It’s been a while since I’ve been able to share my thoughts in this blog. I was hoping to recount my experiences in order, but feel this is a good time to drop in a random post, which actually calls on a lot of my previous experiences. So I guess these coping mechanisms have become transferable skills…
I recently gave an interview to a certain running magazine (more to follow on that at a later date), and was asked for 3 tips for staying positive during a health crisis. I actually managed to come up with a few more, so I thought now might be a good time to share them with you.
1.Keep Yourself Occupied!
Find something to do. Exercise is great for boosting your mood. Run or walk outdoors if you can. If not, adapt. Try a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout, general strength and conditioning – work on your core, or get outside in the garden and try skipping or jogging on the spot. Be creative.
There really is no better time to work on your general health and fitness. Give yourself the best chance of recovery should you become ill, you deserve it. If your health isn’t great, or you have limited mobility, there is still plenty you can do. There are a whole load of yoga poses that can be done without the need to stand on your head or become a contortionist. There are lots of exercises you can do whilst sat in a sturdy chair.
Keep yourselves moving! Physical activity is a natural antidepressant, breaks up the day and keeps you healthy.
Check out YouTube for ideas. There are lots of videos you can follow with everything from armchair yoga to HIIT sessions.
2. Get back to nature!
Whenever you can, spend time outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine always lift your mood. So even if it’s just 5 minutes with a coffee in the back garden, go for it. Listen to the birds, see what insects you can spot, look at the new growth. You’ll be glad you did.
3. Keep in contact with friends and family.
Staying in contact with those close to you reduces feelings of isolation we might be feeling if we are socially distancing or self-isolating.
Set up a regular time to Skype or Facetime each other. If you don’t have access to these, or if you’re just a bit of a technophobe like me, then just pick up the phone.
Make it a part of your daily routine. Share what you have been doing that day, what your plans are. That brings me on to the next point…
4. Make post apocalypse plans
Many of us have had our short term plans kicked to the curb. Whilst we cannot put a timescale on how long this unexpected pandemic will last, that doesn’t stop us from making plans for the future. Set aside a little time each day to focus on setting achievable short term goals, and bigger goals for the year ahead.
Think about those things you really want to do, trips you want to take, parties you want to plan, sports events you’d like to go to. Get your plans written down on paper, and revisit your list regularly to make sure you’re on track.
There may be times when your plans may have to change, that doesn’t mean the goals have to.
5. Find inspiration!
We are lucky to live in an age when we have so much accessible to us.
However, in this age of social media and 24/7 news reports, we can easily find ourselves overwhelmed with negative stories. To counter this, make sure that you fill a small part of your day with positivity.
Listen to music that makes you feel good. Listen to motivational speakers, podcasts, inspiring audiobooks. Personally, I love TED talks! Check out YouTube, Audible, Spotify. There many other sources out there too.
6. Learn something new
There are online courses that you can access free of charge. Use the time you now have to learn more about something that interests you. Check out OpenLearn with the Open University. They have a variety of free courses from An Introduction To Child Psychology, to Learning Languages, Translation, Improving Aerobic Fitness and even Infection and Immunity (quite appropriate at the moment!).
If you don’t fancy going back to the books, take up a new hobby. We might not be able to venture to the shops as much as we would like, but we can still find arts and crafts resources online, or maybe there’s a new mexican recipe you would like to try out.
Make sure you get plenty of rest, and adequate sleep. The amount of sleep we get has a massive impact on our immune system and overall health. It is well documented that certain bodily processes (healing in particular) only happen during certain sleep cycles. You need to be asleep long enough to enter these cycles.
8. Create Routine
During my time of illness, I went from being incredibly active, to spending weeks, if not months, cooped up at home.
Normal life is dictated to us by routines, going to work, taking the kids to clubs, training schedules etc.
If you find that has seemingly gone out of the window, make a routine now. Get it written down and stick to it. Divide your work up into work (if home working), rest, exercise, meals, hobbies etc. Do this for your children too.
Routine can be an anchor. No matter what’s going on in our day, knowing that we will be having our evening meal around 6 pm, and going to bed around 10pm, can be a real comfort. The certainty of our routine can help us to manage the uncertainty that life can throw up. Coping with unpredictable periods of time can feel more doable when we have a little structure in place to look to.
Having a daily routine can help to reduce our stress levels. Routine can take the guesswork and uncertainty out of bits of our day, which can allow us to feel more in control and less stressed.
What things would you include in your routine?
9. Remember to switch off and breathe!
Whenever we are experiencing a health crisis, whether individually or collectively, we can easily find ourselves being bombarded with all sorts of information.
Make time each day to switch off from this. Turn off your phone or tv and find somewhere quiet for a few moments each day. Being in our own space is important, especially if we are at home with others.
Mindfulness is the art of focussing on the present moment and doing it intentionally and without judgement.
Typical mindfulness activities include:
- Mindful non-judgmental awareness of breath, body, feelings, emotions and/or thoughts (in sitting meditation practice or throughout the day)
- Mindful walking meditation
- Mindful eating
- Mindful body scan whilst sitting or lying down.
There are many known benefits, but mindfulness is considered a key element to fighting stress, increasing immune function, improving focus and most importantly lowering stress to name just a few.
There are many online resources that can teach you the benefits of mindfulness.
You can find more information and resources on the Mind website.
I hope these ideas help you over the days/weeks/months ahead. If you have any of your own suggestions for overcoming a health crisis, I would love to hear them!