Lessons from Lockdown

As this time of lockdown continues amid the huge impact of Covid-19 on our lives and lifestyle, I have been struck by the number of times I hear about what life will be like once this is over. Which got me thinking… 

When Lockdown is over...

The issue of ‘when lockdown is over’ seems to mean different things to different people. I hear about ‘looking forward to getting back to normal’ and ‘I’m going to keep going with my exercise…’ or ‘I can’t wait for this to all be over’. And in this time of uncertainty, one thing is certain, lockdown and the restrictions that come with it will not be over in the flick of a switch. I think a more accurate way of thinking about this is as lockdown relaxes. However, as the restrictions change this will also bring new levels of uncertainty and take time to adjust.

In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.

David Hollis

Which raises some interesting questions?

  1. How can we focus on the things that really matter to us and move forwards?
  2. How will we continue with the important things once lockdown relaxes?
  3. How can we get better at living with the uncertainty that impacts our everyday life?

So looking at these one at a time...

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Why does it feel a bit like Christmas?

I don’t know if it’s just me, but these last few days have started to feel like that week between Christmas and New Year.  The days have started to lose their structure, people not going to work, shops looking ransacked and everyone hoarding food because they don’t know when they will be able to get more...Happy days, eh?

So remember what it’s like during and after that Christmas week:

  • You forget what day it is.
  • You get less productive.
  • You drink and eat more.
  • You exercise less.
  • You spend the next month trying to get life back under control
  • You experience the most miserable time of the year.

And that is what happens after just one week of chaos!  We have got several weeks/months of this to look forward to!

So why does this happen?  Well, a major reason is how all our usual habits and structure of living is thrown on its head.  Our routine goes out the window and our lives are left unstructured. And when everyone around you is in the same situation, it quickly becomes really hard to function properly (just like that Christmas week).

So I guess we have a couple of options before us:

  1. Descend into anarchy, learn what we can from Mad Max and go hog wild.
  2. Adapt to the new situation and keep/build as much structure/routine into our lives as possible.

Mad Max

Personally, although option 1 sounds exciting, option 2 will probably be best overall…

Identify your old structure/routine

Identify the old structure/routine you had in your day last week.  Everyone is different, but it probably followed a pattern something like this:

  • Wake up at a set time.
  • Get breakfast/shower/clean teeth etc
  • Get yourself/others to school/work.
  • Eat a meal at a set time.
  • Come home from school/work.
  • Eat a meal at a set time.
  • Do “leisure” stuff (watch TV, go to the gym/pub etc).
  • Clean teeth and go to bed at a set time.
  • Repeat.

Once you know what your routine was, we know what your “anchors” throughout the day were.  You could trust these, you know where, when and why these things happened. It is these “anchors” that help us get through the day/week/month.

After speaking to people, I’ve noticed that many of these “anchors” have come unstuck and without anchors, our lives can start flapping about like a mother hen.  And that’s no good for anyone. Being a health and fitness coach, the first thing I notice people doing is not exercising or being active enough, and even, dare I say it, eating badly (I’m sorry, it’s my job to notice these things!)

Flapping like a hen
Life without anchor points is like a flapping hen...chaotic, unproductive and not much use to anyone.

So what can we do to help fix things?

Set new anchors

Yep, if our old anchors helped keep us grounded, new anchors can help us get grounded in reality again.  Of course, things may have changed now, so we will have to adapt, but the principles should remain the same.  There are some habits that are simply just “good” for us, regardless of the context. And just because we can go all Mad Max, doesn’t mean we should.

So, take a look at your calendar/diary for the coming week.  If it’s anything like mine, it’s emptier and has a lot of things scribbled out.  But we can still incorporate good habits and plonk them in there as big, heavy, solid anchors to keep us going.  Some suggestions include:

  • Still get up at a set time (you decide what time).
  • Still do your morning routine of shower/s**t/shave etc.
  • Still have all your meals at set time (even if you don’t need to)
  • Still go to bed at a set time (even if you don’t need to)
  • Set aside a time to do the jobs you have been putting off for months (yes, I’m actually going to do some admin!)
  • Set aside a time for social fun (it may get difficult, but life is all about overcoming difficulties)
  • Set aside time to stay connected to friends and loved ones. Even work colleagues, especially if you’re working from home
  • Set aside a time to exercise and keep active (in case you didn’t know, we can help you with this!)
  • Set aside time for your Mental Health. Give yourself space for mindfulness or wellbeing solutions (we have articles to read on this too!
  • Set healthy eating habits (we have an entire online course dedicated to changing your eating for the better).

Homework

I like to end on a point of action.  So here is your homework (if you choose to accept it):

  1. Identify what your anchors were last week.
  2. Identify which ones can be kept going for the coming weeks/months.
  3. Add new anchors that will help you, for example:
    1. Stay/keep active, fit and strong.
    2. Eating good, healthy food and avoiding junk food.
    3. Maintain an income to pay your bills.
    4. Improve your skills or education.
  4. Subscribe to Eat, Move, Be Happy and get all exercise, eating and support you can shake a stick at (do you like my attempt at a Jedi mind trick there?)

So keep talking to each other - stay connected, and remember it’s okay to not be okay. We are here for each other.

Until we meet again, make sure you sign up for our mailing list or join the Eat, Move, Be Happy Facebook group...

Keep your habits!

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In these extraordinary times…

It is difficult to know where to start. Globally we are facing a new and challenging phenomenon and there are a lot of unknowns, for us all.

With all the advice out there on all things COVID-19, we don’t want to confuse the issue or repeat what is already out there.

Check out Mind.org and BBC (to name just two) for lots of great information including practical considerations for self isolation and guidance on how to look after your wellbeing whilst this extraordinary situation continues.

We do think it is worth mentioning that there are some things to sensibly consider whilst we face this uncertain time:

  • Keep connected with people – online options provide a workable Plan B to keeping in touch. Check out our online wellbeing community too to meet new people.
  • Focus on what you can control – it is easy to get carried away on the tidal wave of destruction with COVID-19. Concentrate on the immediate things you can do with your family and friends.
  • Share the positive stories – so often it is easy to get hooked on the negative stuff (check out Why considering a Wellness Plan is a great plan! to find out more). We have heard some great stories, from people helping find toilet rolls and cat food for elderly, anxious customers to our Get Moving clients offering to pay for our attempts to offer online exercise options. That brought a tear to my eye.

And remember – we are all in this together and will get through this, together.

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This content is reserved for members of Eat, Move, Be Happy.  You can register here.