Amid all of the sunshine social media posts of barbeques, bikinis and work outs, it can feel you’re you’re the only one struggling in lockdown.
Why haven’t I learned a new language yet, renovated my garden, painted the house, or put 10k on my back squat? It’s been hard just to clean out a cupboard and get the kids to do some school work!
With all the achievements and training gains, it can feel like you’re the only battling the exhaustion and worry, but rest assured, you are not alone.
Let’s remember that social media is the place for the supposed best self. The best pictures, the best angle and what they want others to believe and know about them. It’s important to remember that this is not a balanced or honest view of reality, it’s not how things are. Everyone is having miserable days. Some more than you know. And that’s to be expected.
Granted the lockdown has been kinder to some more than others and the workload is unequal. From people getting paid to sunbathe, to working parents struggling to juggle responsibilities whilst supporting their children to do schoolwork. Self-employed families who are worrying about paying their bills this month, and key workers who are flat out, fearful, doing unfamiliar jobs and on the brink of exhaustion. Even those you assume have little responsibility and plenty of time on their hands may be struggling with boredom and loneliness and missing human touch.
Without the usual distractions and strategies to buffer things, it can be tough to manage anxiety and depression. Being stuck in your head and in your home is pretty tough and relentless, and motivating yourself to get stuff done can be difficult. Social media posts can be helpful in these situations, a reason to train, they actually keep people going and help them to take action, put make up on and get dressed through this time.
There is a general lack of empathy. “Just cheer up and be positive, look at what you can achieve.” This can be useful advice, but there is a time and place for everything and it’s tough on the days when you are running on empty. You need to have compassion for yourself and others too.
Granted many people are enjoying themselves and trying to make the most of things, but most are struggling on some level, so don’t feel less than if you’re not making gains right now. You are not alone.
Feeling down, or a sense of loss or sadness is normal in this situation, you’re missing your loved ones and the life you enjoy, you are human. Anxiety is not a negative emotion; it has a protective function which has helped us to survive, it is an alarm to take action. It’s normal to worry when we feel threatened.
You may have been feeling exhausted in response to all these emotions, relentless worry from the uncertainly, a sense of responsibility and an increase in workload. There is no wonder you don’t have the energy to do that killer workout or paint your house. Your dietary habits may be affecting you too. In times of scarcity we traditionally store and protect our resources. It’s a common response to reach for comfort foods or alcohol- especially if that is how you’ve have been conditioned to fill the gaps.
So take it from someone who is driven and goal orientated, rest assured that it’s ok to just get through this time without learning a new skill, working on your weaknesses or smashing your 5k time. Of course, do those things if you want to, and on the days, you have the energy and inclination to do so. These challenges can distract you, help you to pass the time and make you to feel like you’re still making progress, but please don’t feel less than if you can’t right now.
Pushing when you’re deflated can deplete you further, leaving you drained and empty. A neurological fatigue can linger, and tough workouts can further reduce your mood.
As much as it seems like everything is a competition, it is not. You are unique and incomparable. Getting though each day, having paid a bill, read an article, got your children to read something or doing a food shop may be an achievement in itself. Remember, this situation is temporary and will be over soon. So, if you feel like you’re failing perhaps tweaking your mindset will help you to adjust and feel better both mentally and physically.
Here are our top 5 tweaks from our CEO who has several decades of experience supporting people with physical and mental health. She knows how to use exercise as medicine. These tips will help you to alleviate stress and improve your health.
- Do what you can to maintain your fitness goals but ditch the perfectionist attitude. Walk or run slower if necessary. If you’re getting disheartened don’t track your times, just run for pleasure. There is no arguing that exercise is one of the best things for anxiety and mood, just watch the intensity and don’t get competitive. Research has shown that steady state cardio has a more positive effect on mood that HIIT style training, so bear that in mind when you are choosing your workouts.
- Limit social media. Most of us are communicating on our phones and using technology more than usual. There are 4 people in our house and there is a constant distracting beeping! People know that you are more available and seem to expect an immediate response. The distractions can be frustrating and jobs can take longer as you switch between tasks. Science has proven that we cannot multitask. We simply stop one task to do another and it takes on average 10mins to refocus. Check in once or twice a day and notice if you feel better or worse after your SM interactions. Turn off the notifications and see if this helps, sometimes we just need a break from people’s SM persona. Your tolerance may be lowered when you haven’t got the “real” interactions to balance things out.
- Look after your nutrition. It’s common to slip into old eating habits when you’re under stress. Stay mindful of this and get back on track. Keeping a food diary can help with accountability and stop impulsive eating.
- Stop competing. You don’t need to. You have nothing to prove. Enjoy being invisible for a while and save your energy for your loved ones and what you need to do to pay the bills.
- Kindness has been scientifically shown to reduce stress and anxiety for all involved. You may feel like you don’t have the energy, but small acts of kindness can give you a boost. What small action can you take to help someone else feel like they matter today? Imagine everyone did that today….