I recently caught up with Nicolas Mmako. Nicolas is a Corporate Social Investment (CSI) consultant at Investec. Everyone who knows Nicolas will tell you about his optimism, humility, great leadership and sense of style. He is deeply passionate about community development and CSI.
See my mental health check-in with Nicolas Mmako below;
What is life like living in lockdown?
I must say working from home hasn’t been foreign to me as I’ve often had the option or privilege to do so before the lockdown. The major daily battle is a mental one in which I constantly think about the many South Africans who are affected by this lockdown especially from an economic perspective.
My heart bleeds for small businesses which have and are likely to shut down permanently due to the impact of Covid-19, let alone the ordinary street vendors who are now sitting at home without any source of income to support their families.
Who are you with in this lockdown?
For most part of the lockdown I’m at home with my daughter. My fiancé works at a hospital, so she, unfortunately or fortunately, must report for duty on a daily basis.
What do you do to keep connected with your colleagues, family and friends?
Technology has proven to be essential during this lockdown period. My colleagues and I keep in touch with one another via technology platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and email amongst others. I rely on social networking platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep in touch with friends and family.
Do you have a routine and how does it look like?
Since I’m working from home, I try to keep to normal working hours so that I can have full control of my day which typically starts with me taking a shower before checking my emails around 9am. One of my high school teachers once joked and said “The bedroom is not an ideal place to study because the brain automatically thinks it’s time to sleep.”
It’s for that reason that I avoid working from my bedroom to limit distractions. I normally have my breakfast while reading emails unless if I have virtual meetings in the morning. Otherwise it’s typical email communication with colleagues and partner. And then have snacks and breaks in between until I call it a day around 5pm.
What do you do to cope and what is your philosophy during this lockdown?
I’m naturally an optimistic person so I’m just keeping my head down during this lockdown with the belief that in the end everything will be okay. My philosophy during this time is that there’s an opportunity in any adversity. I believe that we will emerge out of this crisis wiser and stronger.
What keeps you awake at night?
Man, the gap between the haves and have nots in our country is a big bugbear for me. I work in Sandton which is a stone throw away from Alexandra. It is said to be the richest square mile in Africa – that’s great and inspirational. However, I often drive through Alexandra to get to work and I get to see the contrast in the people’s living conditions between the two areas and the fact that life seemingly just carries on as if everything is okay is heart-breaking for me.
What do you do to de-stress?
I love comedy and prank shows so you’ll often find me in the front row at local comedy shows or watching comedy movies on Netflix to de-stress.
How do you keep fit physically, mentally and emotionally?
I’m not really a gym fanatic but a healthy lifestyle is important for me. So, I do sit and push ups most of the times. I’ve personally found that talking to trusted close friends and family members about personal challenges is a good way to clear one’s mind. It’s never a good idea to bottle everything inside. Talking to other people can help one to see things from a different perspective and thus make informed decisions about the issue at hand.
What do you think life will look like post lockdown?
Firstly, I think the President has been phenomenal in dealing with Covid-19 so far. I can only imagine the amount of strain he must be taking with all the decisions that he has to make which are not only economical but literally a matter of life and death. The lockdown has already had devastating consequences for many people such as job losses and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future in one way or another. Nonetheless, I believe that we shall overcome this crisis and some day we will look back and realise how resilient we are as a nation.