This week's Running Life column is written by Joanne Dowds, MISCP, a colleague of our regular columnist, Newbridge physiotherapist Barry Kehoe
The summer has seen life loosen up a little bit after the Covid-19 lockdown. I have got to see family and friends (and hairdresser).
We ask each other, ‘how was your lockdown?’ It’s not the easiest question to answer as the last six months has been a sea-change in life and yet nothing has actually happened.
My day-to-day has been a bit monotonous . A wise friend of mine described it as us all being in the same storm, only in different boats. Every boat weathered the storm with its own challenges and blessings.
How was mine...? Well, I survived, without any permanent damage, thankfully.
I have been as busy as I have ever been in work, with nothing else happening outside, so I have been bored and a little lonely.
I spent my 9 to 5 surrounded by people (all appropriately kitted out), to being alone. I swung from aiming for innovation and achieving huge work-based changes to zoning out in front of hours of TV.
Its been six distorted months. It feels both like a decade and only last week that I watched a new virus track across the globe. We might be tired of Covid-19, but I’m not sure it is done with us yet.
Accounting for the time spent and allowing some reflection is a good idea.
Ask yourself, what did I do over the last 6 months? What worked, and what didn’t?
Well, I worked... a lot... like every other frontline healthcare staff member. It was hard, challenging, interesting, rewarding and completely unlike any other time I have ever worked through before.
I used Zoom for the first time. Initially I loved the medium but it didn’t take too long for the novelty to wear off. It is/was an acceptable way of being included in exercise classes and catching up with people en masse but it isn’t the same. It’s fine, but I am glad to see people face to face again.
I cleaned, for a bit. I moved most of my furniture around to make more space for at home exercising.
I shopped online, impulsively and possibly compulsively, my purchases ranging from a onesie to lounge in, to a black tie dress ( was on sale and well, everyone needs a ballgown in a pandemic).
Neflix was a saviour. I watched all the talked about series such as Tiger King; have worked my way through the complete back catalogue of Fraiser and have now pulled it right back to Cheers.
I spent an inordinate amount on vegetables that could only be justified by being hand picked by a princess under a full moon. I didn’t drink for two months, then did and suffered heavily.
Listen to yourself
So what worked for me? Rest, and its opposite exercise. Possibly most importantly, listening to myself and my body. Choosing well.
I started sea swimming. It is a joy and a whole embodied experience.
Connection, albeit remotely, with friends and family. Meditation. Cereal for dinner is perfectly acceptable.
Here’s what I didn’t do. I didn’t bake — no banana bread, no sourdough.
I seemed to lose my concentration. I couldn’t read any type of serious work, articles or books. I have a stack of books that I kept adding to that are still awaiting my attention.
Unexpectedly I have come to appreciate small talk and casual conversations. I have always been ok being by myself but I missed people.
I spent time indoors. I missed the countryside and really felt the lack of a garden. I also killed a couple more houseplants.
I did a ton of Zoom yoga classes in my rearranged bedroom. Being honest, I spent a lot of time either in child pose or on the flat of my back zoned out.
Physically exercising with others is different, whether that is down to accountability, peer pressure or the distance from your bed and a duvet.
I am very glad to be back in a studio for socially distant classes.
As for the ‘Covid 15’ — or the pounds put on during the pandemic — I don’t know. I haven’t weighed myself in years. I actually found it had too big an impact on my mood to be a positive objective measure.
As I have said previously, I believe you should set your own ideas for what fitness and health look like to you, for you.
Body Mass Index is a population health tool that doesn’t work at an individual level. I know we are Irish, but shame is no way to achieve health change.
Closing life down is hard but so is opening it up.
Transition is hard and the oscillation between all of these opposite states definitely took its toll.
Collectively we are getting through it. It was and is a huge learning experience. That extent of disruption brings massive changes but also potential.
In all this uncertainty, I hope you can find some little moments of joy, such as opening parcels, eating delicious mouthfuls of food, experiencing exercise endorphins, chasing a little one on a beach, or watching a beautiful sunset.
Whatever got you through is OK with me.