It’s been a few weeks of COVID-19 now and I don’t know about you, but being able to exercise outdoors is becoming the new balance for me, and it struck me the other day how lucky I was to live where I do. My doors open out into the old Colliery woodlands, I’m right on the cycle way across Durham, I’m in a very privileged position for corona-ville – but a lot of people aren’t and I know that there will be frustrations for them.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend over Instagram the other day about how they could stay fit but they also felt completely unmotivated and then social media destroyed them by seeing how ‘amazing’ everyone else in the world was doing when all they were managing to fit in was a daily yoga session in between everything else they have to do in their ‘new life’.
I personally had a really good first couple of weeks and then last week (Good Friday) I broke and it hit me how alone I was right now – social media fed into that, so I had to take a break for a few days to fix my brain and lose the lonely feels. So I could sympathise with how much the socials were impacting on my own experience.
After a long chat, it became apparent that they’d forgotten that movement counts – playing hide and seek with your kids, hoovering, gardening (if you’re lucky to have one), stretches, Yoga, Pilates, it’s all functional it plays a part in your daily life and it’s movement. And for a lot of people doing a super intense WOD or HIIT session may not be for them – right now (as I keep being reminded) you have to stop being so hard on yourself.
A good friend of mine reminded me that Carbs are our friends in crisis, but so is movement, because in crisis or times of fear our body reverts back to fight, flight or freeze – our amygdala has a lot to answer for in this – in the modern world our brain still reacts to fear, stress and crisis in the same way. Except now we aren’t being chased by a sabre tooth tiger, most days our stressors are short and unsustained, such as presentations at work, getting blood tests at the doctors etc, but this is a long term stressor and if we can figure out a way to manage it now and reduce the impact our physiological response has on our body we can hopefully reduce the crazy that may come out of this – right now we can access all our usual amenities (all be it in a reduced way), but our body is physically preparing us for an epic battle or to run away.
In this respect exercise is good for the soul, but so is meditation and finding your centre. Breathing exercises will slow your heart rate and I know I have been actively practicing them before bed for the past two weeks to assist me with my fear induced insomnia – So if you can get in some daily movement, then do, don’t focus on how intense it is, how punishing it might be, or how ‘grammable’ it is – just focus on the movement, play, find an activity that is fun, enjoy it.
And don’t be so hard on yourself – this is your situation, everyone is in a different space right now – people keep saying it’s a great leveller, but in all honesty it’s not, it’s actually highlighting privilege even more than it did before. The virus may see everyone as equal but our access to goods, services, basic amenities are now even more extreme than before. So do what you can, and….. #dontbesohardonyourself.