Samantha Rea

A military guide to surviving lockdown

Top tips from SAS commando Jason Fox from Channel 4's SAS: Who Dares Wins

A military guide to surviving lockdown
Image: Channel 4, SAS: Who Dares Wins
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“Wire your booze cabinet up to the mains so you can’t get into it!” says Jason Fox, the former Royal Marine Commando and Special Forces Sergeant who’s best known for barking orders on Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins.

With wine o’clock starting earlier each day for many of us, as we crawl the walls in isolation, I’ve asked Jason for his take on lockdown drinking. “It’s not the answer really. It’s great fun and I enjoy having a drink, but I won’t allow myself to drink all day. It doesn’t make you feel better about yourself.”

Having spent sizeable chunks of his 20-year career sardined in submarines with other men, “sat on top of each other in the pitch black;” and having rowed across the Atlantic for 50 days, with four other guys, on a boat just six metres long, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Jason is unruffled by the Coronavirus putting us all under house arrest.

“I’ve been locked down on numerous occasions for months on end, and you find your own coping mechanisms – or you call upon your training to find the coping mechanisms you need for your mental wellbeing,” says Jason, who’s finding life in a time of COVID restrictions “quite good.”

Here are his tips for surviving – and thriving – during lockdown:

Safe Space

Communication, empathy and compassion are key for getting along with other people and avoiding arguments. Give each other space – even if you’re in a small space together. In the Marines, your bed space is sacred – the unwritten rule was that if you’re in your bed space, you’re untouchable, because that’s your space. So respect other people’s space and give people the time they need on their own. You could mark out areas of the house where if you want to be on your own, you’re allowed to be on your own. And have a danger word for when you feel your hackles rising. Use it before an argument kicks off, as a way of saying: “I need to go and take 10 deep breaths and chill out, before this escalates and we end up in a massive scrap.”

Sweat it out

If you can go for a run, then get out there and do it – that’s always good for your mind. But even if you’re in a confined space, you can always exercise – just smash out 100 burpees! If you’ve got nothing to do all day, set yourself tasks: spend ten minutes of every hour smashing out 50 press-ups or star jumps or squats. Anything like that will get the blood flowing and the lungs going and the next thing you know, you’ve done God knows how many in a day, and you’re feeling better about yourself, and getting stronger and fitter. It’ll keep the day ticking on much quicker too, if you break it up into units of time and tasks.

Routine is key

Have a routine. That’s what we do in the military – whenever I’ve been away, you’ve always got a routine. Start by making your bed, because you’ll feel better about yourself. Then check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling. If you feel negative, or in a way that you don’t want to feel, address that – think about what you need to do to get yourself out of that mood. Then start your daily routine. Check your emails and check your diary to make sure you’re ready for everything that’s coming up. If you’re on lockdown with nothing to do, find things to do. Set yourself tasks, learn something where you can have the satisfaction of making progress; give yourself a new hobby.

Put others before yourself

In the Marines, there’s no detail that’s too small to pay attention to – from keeping clean to keeping your spacing when you go out on patrol, because if you’re all bunched up, you’ll all get killed easily. As a professional soldier, if you don’t act in a responsible way, you could cause someone’s death, and with the Coronavirus it’s the same thing: you could cause someone’s death because of a mindless activity. That’s a hard thing to live with, so have some discipline and look at the bigger picture, otherwise the restrictions will be in place a lot longer. Having grit and determination, and sucking it up, ultimately means life will get back to normal a lot more quickly.

Jason Fox has partnered with Neutrogena® Norwegian Formula.

Samantha Rea can be found tweeting here