Life after lockdown: Small steps to normality.
What word jumps to mind when you see or hear the term “COVID19”?
For me it is “uncertainty”. As a self-confessed planner of note, this has been arguably the most challenging aspect of coping with the effects of the Covid19 pandemic.
My previous blog referred to how a fail-safe set of coping mechanisms are instrumental to living a well-balanced life. What do we do though, when that very set of coping mechanisms starts to crumble due to circumstances beyond our control?
The brief answer is: you start from where you are at.
For the majority of us the past 8 months brought disruption at a cellular level. What we took for granted in terms of daily routine, changed fundamentally.
Personally, I observed how the physiological effects from exposure to prolonged elevated levels of stress wreaked havoc on my body, mind and emotional state. I felt disconnected spiritually due to a deep-rooted sense of fear, which stemmed from not knowing. My resistance to return to the coping mechanisms that had served me so well in the past, left me stranded in no-man’s land.
Even though I continued a physical exercise regime throughout lock-down, I was unable to shake a sense of discontentment with my new reality. Instead of taking time out to sit in silence, surrendering to what is and connecting to spirit for guidance, I tried to make sense of the mess through logical reasoning.
It was only when I reached tipping point in terms of physical and emotional exhaustion when I decided to resume a daily practise consisting of physical, mental and spiritual exercises. The key here was consistency not duration, with an intent to do the best I can.
Soon I sensed the weight lifting, the brain fog clearing and a sense of connection to self and spirit returned. We already know what is best for our own well-being. We just need to pay attention to the voice within.
Body, mind and spirit is interdependent and if one area is off-balance it affects the others.
The devastating effects of prolonged stress associated with managing the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has been well publicised. World Health Organisation journalist, Brunier 2020, writes that an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety are already wide-spread and calls on government authorities to act without delay as “The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the need to urgently increase investment in services for mental health or risk a massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months”.
The need for prioritising one’s physical wellness has never been more important if one considers the manner in which hard lockdown regulations significantly limited our freedom of choice, physical and otherwise.
Encouraging individuals to work from home may have assisted in slowing the rate of infection, however languishing in the comfort of one’s home made it easier for some of us to adopt an ever increasing sedentary lifestyle.
In an article published by the National Centre for Biotechnology, Ross Arena 2020, states that “Aggressive efforts need to be taken to get people physically moving again after COVID-19 – at an absolute minimum we need to hold the line.”
The majority of us feel unfit, out of shape, demotivated and maybe even a little embarrassed that we have neglected our own well-being for so long. That's ok.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Give yourself a break. 2020 has been a tough year, but now it is time to dust off those tekkies and get back on track.
Here are two easy tips to get started:
Walk every damn day. Walk to the shops, at a park, around your home… it does not matter where, just walk. Do what you can at first and then slowly progress to 30 minutes a day.
Be still. Create a quiet space where you can be alone. Commit to 5 minutes per day when you can switch off from the external world and turn inwards. Close your eyes and turn your awareness to the sensation of your breath. Feel it, be in it. Inhale for a count of 5. Exhale for a count of 5. Breathe deeply into your belly. Keep going and when you get distracted, which you will, just take a deep breath and start again.
Commit to taking care of yourself, in the same manner you would not let your best friend down. Then act in a manner which reinforces this intention everyday.
As always, I am here for support. Let me know how I can assist.
Thank you for reading.
Brunier, A., 2020. Substantial Investment Needed To Avert Mental Health Crisis. [online] Who.int. Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/14-05-2020-substantial-investment-needed-to-avert-mental-health-crisis> [Accessed 1 October 2020].
Hall G, Laddu DR, Phillips SA, Lavie CJ, Arena R. A tale of two pandemics: How will COVID-19 and global trends in physical inactivity and sedentary behavior affect one another? [published online ahead of print, 2020 Apr 8]. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2020;S0033-0620(20)30077-3. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2020.04.00