Originally written on Apr 14th, 2020 (updated for current).
***I originally wrote this article at the start of the pandemic once I had moved from NYC back to Toronto after less than two months on the job at a corporate gym in Manhattan when I like most of you, had to figure out my way once my gym shut down. Given that current circumstances depending on where you live are quite similar to the ones back last April, I decided to give a slight update this article as it’s still quite relevant.***
Are the days starting to blend into one another? Are you still keeping your routine? Or do you notice that spending more time inside is making your habits and rituals slowly trend backward? Is anxiety & stress higher than it should be? If so, here’s 10 ways to help stay in the fight so you come out stronger from lockdown than you did going into it.
Get Dressed: Yes seriously. Waking up and staying in the same clothes you wore when you went to bed will make you less productive if that isn’t your norm. Studies show that if you associate productivity with work attire, wearing outerwear can help you feel productive. It doesn’t mean putting on the suit and tie. Instead, get out of bed, and getting dressed to give you a sense of purpose so you can go and attack the day. Being in some form of restriction for the 10 + months it only makes sense.
MOVE, NOT YESTERDAY, BUT RIGHT NOW: If you live in the northeast like I do, it’s freezing outside, but you still need to exercise. Getting in quality movement indoors shouldn’t be something you negotiate. Get some type of aerobics/strength work in. Cardio workouts make your insides strong by improving lung health, digestion and organ function. If you don’t have any workout equipment at all, if you have the ability to, jog in place or work on some bodyweight squats, pushups, use your chair for dips and step ups. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be done with control and good form. I even made a 30-minute 5k video where I ran in place! Sometimes you just need to move!
This all goes to say, don’t think of what the ideal situation is for you is to do something, think of what you can do now in the present moment. Stray away from the notion of idealism being congruent with taking action. Life doesn’t work that way.
From a physical and scientific standpoint, when you quit cardio entirely, you’re more vulnerable to diseases, viruses and illnesses that attack the lower lung cavity upon infection. COVID-19 is a disease that starts from the respiratory tract and through the airways and into the lungs where causes the most damage depending on the individual and their existing comorbidities. Depending on where you are in the world, if your gym’s closed, using your body as resistance at a minimum will help you to maintain muscle mass & strength. You can even do gentle yoga. If you don’t know how to exercise, have prior injuries, and don’t how to measure your progress hire a coach/look online. There are endless options available for your budget and your particular needs that are quite similar to training in a gym.
Tune down the news: I say tune down instead of turning it off. Checking in on what’s happening is important, but it doesn’t mean obsessing over it. We’re still at the point where we can’t do much minus staying inside, and that isn’t going to change. Obsessing over it isn’t going to change when you get back to some form of normalcy.
If you feel helpless, be helpful: Even if you feel that you don’t have the skills to help others, remember that everybody needs something. It’s easy to adopt a scarcity mindset but this is the time to connect in your community virtually to see how you can help. Ask questions. By being helpful, you can create momentum during a current point of stagnation to come out ahead whenever that is.
Accept that you’ve been given time: It’s easy to forget that many of us complained about not having enough time to do things that they wanted to do pre shutdown. You want to learn how to paint? Go do it! Want to take the extra course that you never had the time for? Take it. We all have extra time so finding ways to utilize your time best effectively will help you and those around. Fighting the life you’ve created while you’re in lockdown vs. improving on what you can do now is ultimately your decision. Reflection is great but too much will lead to stagnation. Your perception on the extra time you have will determine your reality.
Investing into yourself: Think of the dominant 8 needs of human beings: certainty and uncertainty, love and connection, significance & recognition, contribution/growth. All of these are achieved by investment into yourself and others. It’s hard to see where the payoff is but as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” It might be hard to be enthusiastic about life right now given the times we’re in, but you got to do it. A stagnant life without purpose is not a happy life.
Be consistent to appreciate the small wins: It’s intention, and its intentional appreciation here. You will never be confident if you’re not consistent. Self-confidence about banking small deposits. Did you do the workout you said you we’re going to do? Did you eat the foods you said you we’re going to? Best way to achieve this, keeping a schedule and sticking to it. It’s been almost a year in lockdown, having a routine you can count on that’s productive will get you to the places you want to go vs. acting on random spurts of motivation that will likely wane.
Get out of your own way: Are you having anxiety/noticing you feel too stressed to do anything, and it’s leading to analysis paralysis & nothing is getting done as a result? That is ego talking. Don’t be afraid of it or ashamed of it. You’re allowed to feel what you’re going to feel but understand sometimes thoughts are just thoughts. Lean too much into some thoughts, and you go easily go down the rabbit hole of analysis paralysis, which can be a slippery slope. Accept what is real and in front of you and reject what’s not.
Be a curator of relationships: Connect with others and connect others to other people. If you don’t have a job, or you’re in an industry where income isn’t guaranteed or particularly affected due to COVID-19 having a beginners’ mindset is key. Know that your skill set might not solve everyone’s existing issue but stay present of mind enough to know that you might know of someone who can help someone you know, and vice versa.
Be thankful: Whatever the situation you find yourself in, someone else out in the world has it worse off than you have it. Keeping a healthy perspective of where you’re at and where you want to go, along with empathizing with others around you and their situations is key. No empathy = no growth.
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