I’m not going to mention the “C” word as there is enough of that on the news and all-over social media. However, with the current lockdown situation, how can we stay positive and make the most of our newly found free time?
Try To Maintain Normal Routine:
Okay, this may seem like a strange one on the face of it, but bear with me! Most of us will either be off of work, or working from home during lockdown. So, how can we “maintain our normal routine?”, I hear you ask. Well, you can try and keep similar patterns. For example, I’ll still be going to bed as if I was getting up for work, and my alarm clock is also still set as if I was going to work. I’m eating my meals at around the same times as if I was at work. I’ll still be getting dressed, even if I don’t go out anywhere.
I don’t want to get into a new routine that would then have to revert back once I am able to go back to work. Obviously, there are some things which will have to change, such as shopping habits and time spent exercising outdoors. However, keeping some consistency can help bring a feeling of normality to an abnormal situation.
Adapt Your Goals:
In order to adapt our goals, we need to take a look at any existing goals that we have in place. Are there things that you were hoping to achieve or were training for this year? If so, we need to re-evaluate. Can they still be achieved with the current situation or do they need to be adjusted accordingly?
For example, this year I was aiming to run the London Marathon in under 5 hours. The event was due to take place on April 26th, and I was feeling well prepared. I had started to countdown the days and was looking forward to reducing my training intensity to peak for the event. Unfortunately, the marathon has been postponed until October. Obviously, that has a knock-on effect on my training. I was up to 16-17 miles on my Sunday long runs, but there is no point continuing with that intensity and building on the mileage now that the race is more than 6 months away. Instead, I need to re-adjust. I’ve dropped back my weekly long run and aim to cover 8-12 miles over the next few months. I’m going to focus on shorter speedwork sessions during the week. It was tough to accept at first as 6+ months is a long time, and it’s hard to stay focussed short term when your goal seems so far away. I told myself that I now have more time to train and a higher chance of exceeding my goal when the event does finally roll around. I have also applied for a charity place for the Great North Run which is due to take place in September as a bit of a motivation boost, and to also get an event under my belt as otherwise it would have been months since my last event.
On the other hand, I also wanted to complete 35 Parkrun events this year. This now won’t be possible as they take place weekly, and I won’t have enough events left in the year by the time we are out of lockdown and the events are back on. This is just one of those things that I have to accept, and change my expectation timeframe for. Don’t dwell on this being a negative as just because it can’t be achieved as soon as you would have liked, it can still be achieved.
Set New Goals:
Add new goals to your current plan, or create goals if you don’t currently have any. Goals can act as a way to stay motivated and look at things more long term. There are plenty of goals which can be set at home, such as cooking a new recipe every day, 15 minutes of exercise a day, drinking 8 glasses of water a day, getting 8 hours of sleep per night, etc. You can use your newly created goals to build a routine and then progress from them later.
Learn A New Skill / Hobby:
This one can semi tie in with setting new goals. With the help of the internet, you can learn things that you may not have had access too before. Perhaps you have a guitar sitting around that you never learned to play… well, now you have the time and resources via YouTube or finding an online teacher to help.
There are so many things that you could learn, from instruments, languages, art and crafts, to how to play chess! You could also learn more practical things, such as how to cook, sew or repair things. Learning something new will not only help to pass the time, it can also provide something that you can use after the lockdown period, either as a hobby or new skill. Time spent learning is time that is never wasted!
Okay, so before lockdown I used to hear the “I don’t have time to exercise” objection a lot… well, unless you’re a key worker (if so, thank you for your hard work!), then you should now have a lot of time to spare! Meaning that now is a great time to try and build some exercise into your daily routine. Even if it’s just 15-30 minutes. Getting into a routine now will make it easier to stick to an exercise plan when you return to work or school. It’s just about making exercise a habit. Then, before you know it, you’ll wonder how you never made the time to exercise before.
Not only will this improve your physical self and help if you want to lose weight or improve your cardio, it will also help you manage your mental health. Just 30 minutes a day has shown to help improve heart health, aid weight loss, reduce stress, improve your memory, increase productivity and creativity, and improve self-confidence.
Oh, and you don’t need fancy equipment to get a good workout! There are plenty of bodyweight exercises that can be incorporated at home for a great workout. Plus, you don’t even have to get dressed!
I’m sure I’m not alone in having a list of things that I need to do, but haven’t had the time yet. Use your free time to tick a few things off your list, if possible. For me, it’s mainly decorating, going through old clothes and items, clearing through the garden, etc. Having a task to focus on can help take your mind away from the situation and also give you a positive boost when you achieve the task at hand.
Just because we can’t see our family and friends, doesn’t mean that we have to be completely cut off or isolated. Make the most of social media to share pictures with each other, play games online together and just pick up the phone for a chat! There are so many different platforms available now that you should find one to suit your needs, whether it be Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, Facetime, etc.
As of recording this video, the UK isn’t on complete lockdown, so you are still able to go outside for 30 minutes a day for a walk or to the shop for essentials. Even sitting in the garden can help to prevent you from feeling imprisoned inside. It’s just important to get some fresh air every now and then!
Make plans for when things go back to “normal”. These could holiday plans, places to visit, booking a meal out with friends and family, a cinema trip. Just something that you can’t do now that you are looking forward to. This will help to keep you looking forward and remind you that things can go back to how they were and you’ll soon be able to enjoy doing familiar things again.
Don’t Obsess Over The News:
It’s practically impossible to avoid hearing anything at all relating to the current situation, especially during lockdown. You can, however, minimize your exposure to it by avoiding news channels and websites. Staying up to date is important, but don’t obsess over the details. It’s something that you have no control over, so frantically watching the news and live trackers is just added stress that you don’t need!
Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself:
Fingers crossed, lockdown should be a once in a lifetime situation. This is a strange time for everyone and no-one really knows how to act. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you are finding it hard to adjust to a new routine. It’s easy to get frustrated, but don’t feel like you’re alone. Almost everyone is in the same boat at the minute and everyone will have different coping mechanisms. If your alarm goes off at 7am but you are struggling and could use that extra 30 minutes in bed, then allow yourself time to rest and recuperate. Do what’s best for you, whilst being responsible and sticking to the government guidelines.
Uncertainty is never fun, and no-one knows what is going to happen next. This is why it’s important to try and keep your normal routine where possible. Obviously, certain parts of our routines will have to change, and that’s why it’s important to incorporate healthy and productive activities. Not only will these pass the time, they will also help to keep you positive through a difficult situation.
Let me know how you are spending your time in lockdown and also what you are looking forward to doing once it’s all over!