The Inevitable COVID-19 Post… (Part 1: the personal stuff)

How is everyone doing? I hope you are managing to stay as balanced as you can in these strange and difficult times.

I have approached the physical isolation restrictions in the same way that I approach winter – aggressive exercise. Also yoga. I am fortunate in that I have a sizeable public park nearby in which to walk and run. I haven’t cycled there yet, but took the opportunity for a couple of short road rides near to home last weekend to make the most of the sunshine and blossom. I was conscious of venturing a bit further from home than of late but kept to roads I knew while avoiding the routes out of the suburbs that are the most popular with local riders. Pedalling to the edges of Kent and back into London was, frankly, joyous – I haven’t felt happier in recent weeks. Otherwise there is turbo. My usual Turbobeat group sessions have, as so many others, gone online. A fitness app connects heart rate of individuals to a shared screen which pretty much replicates the display in the usual classes. Though, my landlady’s garage lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.

 

 

A shout out to Paul Mill of Elite Cycling here. He’s running these classes three times a week (Tues-Thurs) until the end of May with no charges. Come and join us! All he asks is that you donate to Shelter via his JustGiving page. It also has all his contact information so you can drop a line to find out the Zoom meeting link and Spark app details – you need a turbo and a HRM. At the time of writing he’s managed to raise nearly £2k. If you have a bluetooth monitor you can see your HR onscreen but if not you can self-regulate that in accordance with Paul’s instructions as I do. Great structured sets and a way to raise funds for some of those most in need during the current pandemic.

There is no right or wrong way to react in the current situation. We do what we can. Perhaps we stick to what we usually do when things get tough, perhaps we try to adapt. Bake sourdough or don’t bake sourdough. Sit around in your pants or don’t sit around in your pants. I have sat back a little from social media though as I found I was becoming rather overwhelmed by the sheer output of organisations shifting so much information into the digital realm. I still make time for the all-important cute animal videos though. Plenty of people have commented on how repeated online interactions, and in particular group meetings, leave them unusually tired by the end of the day. Here’s just one comment on some of the reasons why that might be.

The courses of therapy I’ve attended have underlined trying to approach things with an investigative air, with a curiosity. This seems to help me – when I remember to do it! Also, attempting to be present, as Mindfulness encourages. When we cannot say for sure what the future will bring it can help to focus more on the short term. Running and turbo does that for me too – the physical effort needed keeps my train of thought on a short track. Mens sana in corpore sano.

 

 

We won’t all react the same way, or the way we expect. As someone for whom anxiety is a regular companion I thought I might find this situation far more stressful than I have. I’m not alone, however, in finding that I am much happier and relaxed now than I’ve been for many, many weeks. A new normal with certain boundaries removes some of the vagaries of life, some of the previous ‘obligations’ no longer apply. For me, the fact that I currently do not have to attend regular appointments with my Universal Credit Work Commitments Advisor has been a palpable relief. I am fortunate that I have been in the system for several months and do not have to apply along with tens of thousands of others. Life feels as if it’s on pause, yet I can still do some of the activities that mean the most to me. For others, it might be a struggle to get through each day without the usual structure of work and all the social interactions that accompany it. For me, being at home recently and job-hunting has meant I’ve been fairly isolated anyway. It’s not such a huge shift in my life. It is, of course, a very different situation when you *can’t* do certain things rather than when you *don’t*. Like some others, I’ve done more exercise recently than I usually do because I feel the need to make the most of the chance I have. I do worry a little what might happen if further restrictions were put in place… and then try to remind myself that all this too shall pass.

How are you coping? Or not? Has your relationship with the bike changed during this period? Drop me a line via the contact page and let me know. Perhaps we can all share some of the things that have helped us, and those that haven’t. I feel the change of season is a boon. It might seem unfair to be inside working when the sun is out and the temperature is mild though I, for one, feel the situation would be much harder if we still had the storms and rain of earlier in the year. My flat might begin to feel a bit like a prison if the rain was beating down on the windows. To complement the physical exertions I have been more attentive of the natural world; a spot of Hanami (the flowering cherry outside my window is coming into bloom), visiting the goslings by the lake in the park, listening to birdsong. These are reminders of both permanence and fluctuation. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

 

 

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