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You now have the time to build a habit
It has been inspiring to see how people are out walking, running and biking, while keeping their distance of course. I might just be noticing it more these days, but it seems to me to be a whole lot more people out there getting some activity in this high stress time. Maybe this is one piece of silver lining in this cloud. We all know what physical activity does for us, I do not need to list all the benefits. One thing I will remind you though is how much physical activity can positively impact your mental health. I would like to take a moment to be little self-reflective. I would ask that you notice how you feel prior to going out for a walk verses when you come back in. Notice the impact of getting active has on your mental state. It literally can be like a drug. I ask you to remember this feeling when you do not want to get up from the computer or off the couch. Physical activity can play an important part in keeping your resilience battery charged.
This is, and will continue to be, trying times. Resilience is a complicated formula that you determine. There is no one path to sustained resilience or one way to live a flourishing life. You will have people try to tell you this in motivational talks or in books, but it is not true. Are there certain aspects that are proven to really help? Sure, but you need to create your own path. I am hopeful that some sort of physical activity resonates with you to sustain your own r-battery, but I appreciate not all get the same high I do. I encourage you to find something that can give you a charge as there will lots of stuff over the next little while that will be drain.
Walking is probably the easiest mode for most. Not all but most. As a disclaimer, check with your local government officials as some parks, paths and areas are closed so take what I say with that in mind. Getting in nature is one of the best, and simple, r-battery boosts. A great study out of Japan asked subjects to either walk in the city or in nature. What they found was those walking in the city had higher levels of cortisol after the walk (cortisol is a stress hormone). Those that walked in nature had less cortisol and had more of the positive hormones, the one that makes us feel like I suggested at the start of this article. Keep this in mind when you decide where to walk today. Again, please remember our heath officials’ recommendations on this, social distancing, not driving to the location, etc.
Other opportunities are to do something on-line. The last 3 days I have been coordinating and leading workouts online for the Olympians I work with. If you think you can keep up you are welcome to join us. Kidding. Find something online that fits your pace. Maybe it is just a stretch video, maybe you can have people you are social isolating with join in or maybe you can team up online with some friends and do it together. The next workout with the athletes I am going to have different athletes take over the screen and pick their favorite exercise. Try this with some friends online.
This could be the opportune time for some people to start who have said countless times in the past “I don’t have time”. I appreciate some have kids at home, are learning new technology so they can work at home and just stressed out about the whole situation making it hard to think about starting. I get it. Trying to see this time as opportunity can feel silly and not taking the situation seriously however it is what resilient people do. Looking after your health is how you are taking it seriously. It is not being silly or flippant about this difficult time.
Lastly, It can take some time to build a habit. Some research says 12 weeks, 16 weeks or 6 months. Imagine in the future you can say “that was a shitty time for society, but it is where I built the habit of physical activity into my life”.
Do not feel guilty over this. It is normal to feel fear and bad for those who are sick and struggling but let’s make it normal to also look after our own health in this time of crisis.
Darren Steeves is the owner of VenduraWellness.com, a company dedicated to improving organizational health one step at a time.