Jenny Nesbitt reminds us that it’s okay to not be okay during the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

 The last month, or is it 2 months (I have given up counting) has been something none of us could have predicted. A world health pandemic caused by a bat. It almost seems like a bad nightmare, but we are all living it right now.

I watched a Ted Talk from Bill Gates a few years who had predicted something of the like, but if I am honest, I never calculated COVID19 into my life. Social distancing, quarantine, self isolation, lockdown… a new vocabulary to go with our new world. It is odd waking up each day without a structure or a true purpose.

We have been well and truly made to slow down. It is almost karma for wanting more time, because if you’re anything like me, you have too much time and not much to do.

Out of kilter

I feel out of kilter. Sometimes my day feels like it lacks purpose. As someone who enjoys being busy, I enjoy structure to my day. Right now, I feel that there is a vacant gap in my day to day life which can not be filled during the crisis we are all facing.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very lucky to not yet be succumbed to COVID and to have non of my family affected either. For that, I could not be more grateful. Yet, like a lot of other people, I am finding these times pretty challenging. Life changing events with uncertain outcomes. Nothing is predictable right now and that is kinda scary. 

And this is where running, or just any form of exercise comes into play. As Matt Hancock said a few days ago, exercise is really important for both its physical and mental health benefits. And I truly believe this, and not just because I am a running fanatic.

Exercise (and fresh air) can do you wonders, and especially in times of uncertainty. From giving you a purpose each day, to getting the heart beating, to soaking up the sun (when it is out), to releasing those damnnnnnn good endorphins, exercise gives back so much. And right now, we all have to opportunity to do it.

Explore what is on your doorstep, because I bet there is more than you realise. 

For those who run and exercise everyday as the norm, do you normally work towards races and set extrinsic goals? The fact that everything is being cancelled and there are no up and coming goals, might mean motivation to go out and exercise could waiver.

I’ve seen this first hand over the past few weeks, and although it is totally fine to be in this camp, it doesn’t mean the alternative is to sit in front of the tv, xbox or phone all day. Admittedly, my screen time has increased from an already bad figure, but in amongst that scrolling, I’ve been maxing out my activity token.

In fact, the first 2 weeks of lockdown confirmed to me how much running impacted on my day to day mood. I obviously miss racing and having short term goals, but the simple act of lacing up my trainers and just running plays a significant role in how my day goes.

Just getting out the door to run

Having a bit of a niggle meant that I couldn’t do the thing that gave me the most certainty in such an uncertain time. I was a moody bi*ch.. as I am sure my boyfriend could confirm (haha), and even though I could get out on my bike, and still get some fresh air, it wasn’t the same.

So, I guess what I am trying to say, is it doesn’t matter what you are doing, just do something that you enjoy and makes you feel good. Right now, no on is judging, and anything seems to go, so go crazy if you fancy it. 

So even if right now you could not give two flying monkey’s about being fit, getting fit or chasing any sort of fitness goals, continue to exercise. Not only will it make you feel good, get you out and super charge those good endorphins, but it will also keep you physically healthy too.

An added bonus, you can still chase those virtual 5k’s and you’ll still have something in the bag if races open up again. 

Top tips for keeping the ball rolling

Here are my top tips for keep up exercising, keeping motivated and staying physically, but most importantly, mentally healthy. 

  1. Make it routine. Although we are living in a very unstructured world at the moment, make exercise routine. Do it first thing when you wake up. Do it in your lunch break or use it as your afternoon activity. Choose a time and stick to it each day. 
  2. Explore new (local) places. Take a different route than normal from your front door. Explore a new path or trail and take advantage of the empty roads. You might find some real gems, and it helps to keep you engaged. 
  3. Remember how good you feel when you are done. It can be really hard to get out the door, but it is very rare you come back form a run (or any other form of exercise) and regret it!  

Its pretty challenging at the moment and many things feel out of kilter, but it is an opportunity to make the most of the situations we are in. More time, fresher air, and a new sense of what is important in life. I for one, doubt the world will ever return to the way it used to be, and maybe that will be for the better.

People will appreciate things more. Running with a friend, hugging your family and traveling to places. Races, competitions and PBs, they will all mean that little bit more. It will get better, it will just take time.

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