Quarantine that stress: Keeping well during COVID-19
Sophie Woolcock shares how we can look after our mental health whilst staying well in isolation
In a time where next to every news piece is reporting on the uncertain, unstable world around us it’s easy to feel out of control and overwhelmed. With screen time up by almost a half as lockdown boredom has us flipping from computer, to phone, to TV, over stimulating media is ripe for overindulgence. Whilst some might feel relieved to have broken the relentless cycle of library – pub – repeat and taken this time to slow down, most will be experiencing a rising level of anxiety as our lives turn digital.
Stress relieving activities – namely a spontaneous trip to the pub or a jog – have been replaced with a computer screen and an atypical, not so sticky pint glass as we zoom into each other’s living rooms. The digital switch has also changed the way we experience sports and fitness as it provides scope for replacing the endorphin rush with cortisol, as pressure to ‘get fit’ and ‘be healthy’ during isolation is plastered across Instagram with the latest fitness trends such as the t-shirt challenge (which involves getting a t-shirt on upside down whilst balancing on a wall) and the run for heroes 5km (which involves running 5km, donating 5 pounds towards supporting the NHS and nominating 5 friends to do the same)– which as admirable as they are, aren’t going to make or break your fitness goals.
Keeping well rather than keeping fit is a priority in these turbulent times and we must remind ourselves to treat our mental and physical health with equal importance.
Detaching yourself from that perfectly toned online fitness guru; as beautiful and alluring as they may be, might help prevent the sub-conscience comparison to others that can so easily manifest itself. Making your daily dose of exercise truly YOURS and not his or hers is an important step to living a sustainable healthy lifestyle, not only during this period of isolation but far beyond it.
Getting outside and alternating between strength and cardio workouts will bring variation to your fitness routine and engage parts of your body that are being used less due to a reduction in weight bearing activities. Also including heart opening and shoulder compressing exercises will help correct posture as now – more than ever – we’re spending more time stuck in a slouch.
Setting yourself a circuit of simple exercises like crunches, squats and sit-ups will do, but if you feel like getting creative why not design a personalised workout? With more time on our hands the weekend brings an opportunity to try out new workouts as well as explore your neighbourhood. If you are short of ideas for new moves, pick a handful of online influencers and compile a series of new exercises that you think will work for you. This might help you side step any negative thoughts and allow you to focus on building an achievable and maintainable routine that will benefit both your physical and mental health, so that you can look back at COVID-19 as being the period where, despite the odds, you became stronger, more confident and ready to take on whatever lay on the other side.