Some of things I normally do to relieve stress went completely out of the window in the middle of March and I realised that I’ve not been doing any Pilates or having a bath last thing.
It’s really common when we’re under stress to suddenly forget all our normal activities and particularly when we were all in a situation we have never been in before.
Where we can it’s good to try and stick to our usual routine. I realise right now we are pretty far away from ‘usual’ so it might be about trying to bring in a bit more routine than you might been doing.
Just small things like going for your walk at the same time every day or trying to go to bed and get up at the same time can make a difference.
Our minds and bodies are linked dramatically, which those of you who know me, know I bang on about a lot so I’ll start with some of the obvious stuff.
When we’re stressed our bodies become stiff and we will often lift our shoulders up towards our ears. We’ll start to feel sore. Sore necks and tightness across our shoulders. We can suffer from headaches and tummy aches and upset stomachs.
The interesting thing about going for a walk, is that it can help to calm you down on a lot of levels. It’s beautiful weather this week and being in sunshine is good for us. Vitamin D is great for our well-being.
Being outside is great – looking around and watching out for nature, what birds can I hear? What flowers can I see? What can I smell? Choosing your favourite house on a street (car/garden/curtains). Looking for rainbows in windows, even though you might not have children and are 45. All helps us to slow down and start paying attention to the things around us, which is a big part of mindfulness practice.
You’re also walking. Which is a great low impact exercise. You have to breathe when you’re exercising (It’s a good idea generally ?) but again this is a great way to start of being mindful. Even when I’m still in the house, slowly breathing in and out for 60 seconds can help me to regain my focus and stop my thoughts from crashing around, and for me, a walk helps even more.
If you’re able to do more than go for a walk then maybe try it out. I don’t mean that I expect you to have a body builder’s physique by the end of lockdown and unless you live in a full equipped gym, it wouldn’t be possible anyway. But see if there’s any way you can move more. Is there something you enjoy? Pilates and yoga are great for stress because the movements are focused on the breath which will help reduce feelings of anxiety and the actual exercise bit will help you to feel more mobile at a time when your body might feel quite tight. There’s a lot of online exercise out there.
Exercise and movement create endorphins – which is a complete bonus right now when hugs are at an all time low. Exercise helps me to stabilise my mood so even if I haven’t done enough to get a high, I won’t be in as bad a mood as before or I won’t feel quite as low. Even slow and steady forms of exercise can help with this.
Do you enjoy going for a bike ride? Do it. See how you feel afterwards. For those who need a slightly bigger hit (– or even HIIT) of endorphins, there are lots of online workouts available where you can work up a sweat and I know a lot of parents out there are doing PE with the kids and those workout are pretty high intensity. There’s also the Couch to 5k app which I love for those of you who fancy running. (Just remember to have the day’s rest it recommends between running)
Online exercise links
- Pilates: Robin from ‘The Balanced Life’ has a huge range of pilates video content for all levels and all timescales. https://www.youtube.com/user/TBLwithRobinLong
- Yoga with Adriene: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene. A couple of friends have recommended this to me and her dog is really cute. It’s nice as she has beginners stuff and different length sessions so you can just do what you have time for. (Under 10 minutes, 10-20 mins and longer practices too)
- Couch to 5K. This page gives you the programme to follow if you don’t have a smart phone and the links to download the app if you have: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/
- PE with Joe. https://www.thebodycoach.com/blog/pe-with-joe-1254.html Many of you might be doing this already with the kids. It’s live at 9am but also recorded and uploaded to YouTube so you can do them at any time. Joe’s 5 minute warmup if probably ideal for kids but you might need a bit more warming up than your 7 year old. An extra 5 or 10 minutes at least. (You could do the following ten times each; touch your toes, jump up and down, march on the spot, squat, do arm circles.)
- Bhangracise: https://youtu.be/bU4kimGlcbc. This is so much fun. I did this on Saturday and I’m hilariously bad at it, as my coordination is shocking, but it did make me smile and sweat. These are live and recorded like Joe’s stuff too.
- HIIT from the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/10-minute-home-cardio-workout/. The NHS website has a lot of exercise videos that you can try from this HIIT one to Legs, bums and tums, and Upper arms. You can have a look at what else they have on their Exercise webpage: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/.