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I remember a meme that was circulated back in March - towards the beginning of the pandemic. It was a poem of positivity, about how the impending lockdown would bring us some kind of utopian enlightenment...
This isn't how it goes, but picture this:
Shut away in the magical cocoons of our homes - away from the pressures of modern life - we would rest, reflect, meditate, exercise and create, emerging at the end like woke butterflies, all zen and wise. We'd then be ready to "go back to normal" having solved all our problems and tasks that we'd put off since smartphones came along and took up all of our time.
Rather than be destroyed by this global crisis, we would somehow be healed by it.
Now, optimism like this has a place. It can be lovely and reassuring to not spend all your time thinking the world is doomed. But on the other hand, relentless positivity can not only be a little irritating, but it can also make us feel abnormal for feeling troubled by the prospect of the world falling apart. And I’m not sure I know anyone who hasn’t experienced that over the last few months.
So here we are, at the end of lockdown - the promised utopia. It all feels a bit different to that description, doesn’t it? I mean sure, some people thrived; they made sourdough and banana bread, worked from home whilst also educating their children, and did some banging home workouts - or at least that’s what they told us on Instagram. Some survived on Netflix and biscuits.
Many people have lost their lives or their loved ones, and many are coming to the end of lockdown a lot worse off than they started. People have lost jobs, relationships, gains and more. Some have suffered mental and physical health problems, domestic violence has risen, and outside of all that, many have lost faith in those they trusted to guide us through it.
The confusion caused by conflicting messages and false predictions has made it hard for people to know what to do next. And just as lockdown has affected us all differently, so too will coming out of it; some will be excited and some will be terrified - and that’s normal. But either way you look at it, we're here to help.
Step 1: Embrace The Change and Uncertainty
There are many questions about post-lockdown that we don’t have the answers to, but believe me when I say, it's completely normal to feel anxious about the regulations easing.
For some, the very fact that we won't be going back to “normal”, but instead, heading into a world which involves facial masks, queues, hand sanitiser at every door, and a distinct lack of hugs will be distressing in itself.
Change is disconcerting at the best of times, but it can be particularly upsetting when it’s a visible reminder that things aren’t quite “back to normal” just yet. But we must remember that this is all part of the process. And, just as we’ve got used to some really weird stuff during lockdown, we will - eventually - get used to all of this too.
As we know from the Charles Darwin memes, it is not the strongest that survive, but the most adaptable to change. Try and accept the uncertainty, rather than endlessly looking for answers on your news feed and social media. My top tip: just take each day as it comes, one step at a time.
Step 2: Re-Build Your Habits
Reflecting back on lockdown, there’s no doubt that we'll all notice some habits we’ve picked up - some good, some not so good...
Equally there will be things we absolutely do not miss about pre-lockdown life - things we knew at heart didn’t serve us well but were hard to shake off. And, things that definitely didn’t serve us well, that we probably weren't aware of until we were forced to put them on hold.
We now have a unique opportunity to rebuild our routines, habits and practices from the ground up, incorporating the best of both worlds and ditching the things that don’t work for us. Maybe this is wishful thinking, and it won’t be easy, but it’s worthwhile. Habits and routines are what keep us going when motivation is running low, so make sure you hang on to the good ones.
Step 3: Kindness is Key
Compassion is defined as recognising, understanding and wanting to help alleviate both distress and misfortune.
Understanding that others are going through this differently to you, and being patient and kind when they behave in ways you don’t necessarily understand can be hugely helpful to them.
For example, whilst you may feel comfortable meeting up with a large group of people in a busy area, your friends might not... The trick is to be compassionate. To be patient and kind.
And we must include ourselves when we talk about this. I mean, cut yourself some slack if you don’t feel like going back to the pub or the gym just yet; this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Fitspo memes always tell us to push past what’s easy, to get out of our comfort zones, and whilst that “just get on with it” method may be helpful in the gym, there are times when a more gentle approach is needed. Strength and resilience are important, but they’re not reduced by being mindful of our feelings and concerns (and those of others). Knowing when to push yourself and when to give yourself a break is an immensely personal thing, and something I think we are all figuring out in real time at the moment.
Step 4: Look After Your Health
The importance of prioritising physical and mental health has become even more apparent in recent times. Getting plenty of exercise, eating a varied and healthy diet, developing good sleeping patterns and maintaining social connections are key.
Practising mindfulness and meditation can be helpful, and above all if we think something may not be going as it should with our physical or mental health it’s important to seek help from appropriate healthcare professionals.
Ultimately we are all continuing to navigate unchartered territory, and like any explorer will tell you (I assume; I’ve never met an actual explorer), it’s important to keep your wits about you, make sure you’re as prepared as you can be, be mindful of the welfare of your team, and know when to take a break. And don’t forget to bring snacks.
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His skills are countless, but the most remarkable of all is his ability to understand. Mike lives a conditioning journey of his own and knows everything we go through on the daily.