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Post-Lockdown: Looking after Your Mental and Physical Health

Lockdown rules continue to lift, and things are beginning to feel a bit more ‘normal’. Cue a huge sigh of relief! But… for many of us, slipping back into a busy social routine is not plain sailing, and the changes are not without their challenges. Many of us have adapted to a quieter way of living, and are understandably feeling a little unsure and anxious.

It is absolutely OK to not feel excited at the thought of going to a busy pub on a Saturday, and there is no shame in missing the plan-free weekends which resulted in impromptu walks and making banana bread. 

So if this is you – and you’re feeling a little lost or overwhelmed, now is the ideal time to pause and reflect on how you can look after you. Focussing on our mental and physical wellbeing as we emerge from this pandemic is of paramount importance.

Listen to your Body and your Mind

Pay attention to how you feel, and don’t ignore any warning signs. It might be the fact that your sleep is a little more disturbed than it used to be, or that you’re not enjoying the things you used to enjoy. If you’re noticing signs such as these, it’s important to take a step back and reflect. Speak up, talk to a loved one – or a professional. Take time to notice what strategies and support you have in place to help, and what coping mechanisms work for you.

Time to Adjust Our Coping Mechanisms

Lockdown took a number of things away from us, including many of our coping mechanisms. These might not seem so obvious on the surface, but pre-Covid, many seemingly small things helped us cope with every day life. If might have been the hour long training commute where you could zone out with a good audio book and prepare for the day… or getting your nails done once a month as special you-time away from busy family life…. or the pre-class chat you used to have with your gym friends that would help ease your workout nerves… these were all stripped away, and we had to find new ways to cope. During lockdown, this might have been a regular FaceTime chat with a friend, or a daily quiet walk. We got used to these new methods – and over time settled into the adjusted lockdown-routine.

And now…coming back out of lockdown means re-adjusting those coping mechanisms again. Whilst some of us might find it easy to simply ‘pick up where we left off’ and resume our pre-Covid routine (relieved to get back to the Nail Bar and chat to friends in the gym!) some of us will be finding the switch back just as stressful as the adjustment of going in to lockdown. 

Not to mention that some of those old routines might no longer be feasible. Working from home indefinitely? The re-charging train commute might not be an option anymore. And now, your work day is too busy to replace the commute with the old daily lockdown walk… so that regular coping mechanism is lost altogether. So much for returning to normal… 

So – it’s more important than ever to reflect on what mechanisms we can use, what is available to us, (what is legal will likely feature too, as some rules and restrictions still remain!), what helps, and what really works for you.

Prioritise what matters most to you

Grab your phone, open your calendar, and book in slots for the things that are most important to you. Whether it’s the much needed 20 minute pre-work walk to clear your head, or 8 minutes of GoWOD to unwind in the evening, book it in. Set an alarm, and commit to that slot, just as you would commit to a work call or meeting.

And – if you’re struggling to work out what to prioritise, let’s start with the basics: Sleep and Nutrition. When we are stressed, busy, anxious, overwhelmed, or even feeling totally fine and awesome it’s still crucial to ensure we are getting enough quality sleep and fuelling ourselves with nutritious food. So make sure those are in check, and don’t let social pressures get in the way of those key needs! Next up: exercise. Hopefully we are all familiar with the mental health benefits of exercising, from the mood-boosting endorphins that are released from working out, to the sense of achievement and increased self esteem – as well as all the obvious health benefits. So make sure you’re finding that time for you to get your dose of exercise. Sleep, nutrition and exercise will impact each other too, so if one of these is out of kilter, it’s good to be aware of the knock-on effect it can have. So if you know how much your Sunday morning workout means to you, trying to get to bed before midnight rather than staying out in your neighbour’s garden till the early hours wouldn’t be a bad call!

Don’t Get Sucked In On Social Media

It’s all too easy to have a quick scroll through Instagram and think “Everyone is out having fun and finding this so easy”. Sure this may look like the case – but how often do we share our low moments on Social Media? Rarely. We share highlights. We share the one-night-out we’ve managed that month. We post the group photo of that one garden get together. So try not to get swept up in the illusion that is the highlight reel online. And if that’s a lot harder than it sounds – consider taking a break from the scrolling habit, or unfollow any accounts that are stirring up negative or anxious feelings in you.

Be Kind to Yourself

….And if you feel you need to cancel that social event, do it. You don’t need to have a big reason to say no. It’s ok to want to take things slow, and it’s ok to crave a weekend to yourself at home or in your local area; just because shops and restaurants are open again doesn’t mean you have to say yes to everything. Let go of the guilt and feelings of obligation; it’s time to put you first. It’s been the most wild and challenging year, and it’s completely understandable to need to take some time to turn the page.

So there we have it; a few small ways we can make a big difference to ourselves in these uncertain times, and a gentle reminder that you are not alone. 

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If you’d like to speak to us about how we at SCFIT can help you, and how we’re making the gym a safe and welcoming space for you as we emerge out of lockdown – get in touch today for a no-obligation free No Sweat Intro. The door is open!

Adele Wayt

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