How to Keep Sane When you Can no Longer be Active and Participate in Outdoor Sports.

By Dr Gary Bartlett GP and British Snowboarder

Spread of the coronavirus pandemic is fast gaining momentum mainly in the media but also in the real world as we now find ourselves living in this very bizarre world where events are cancelled and we can no longer participate in the outdoor sports that we treasure doing so much. Along with this comes social distancing, isolation, closure of schools, businesses and gyms leaving people to figure out a whole new routine whilst still trying to exercise which is hugely important for both mental and physical health.  Here are some super useful tips that you might just find useful :

Maintain routine
  • Sadly for me, my awesome local Wiltshire running club where we do twice weekly group runs and training has been cancelled. I now use the once daily opportunity  to exercise given to us by Boris Johnson to go out and run by myself or maybe with one other friend whilst making sure that I keep a distance of no less than 2 metres.
  • Here’s a good idea, use the time you would have spent commuting to work being active. For example your ‘morning commute’ could be a run outside in the fresh air (whilst adhering to social distancing rules) and your ‘tea time commute’ could be working out at home. All you need to do is look to social media or YouTube for the infinite number of home work out routines available to us which are largely free. Check out Joe Wicks ‘the body coach’ home work out routines which caters for all ages and abilities. Why not get the kids involved and expel all that excess energy from having to stay at home. My sister is very good at working out with her young kids at 9am every morning for 20 minutes which sets them up very nicely for the rest of the day. It’s PE at home for the children.
Get outside
  • Having a dog gives you a good excuse to leave the house and take a nice peaceful walk. On your walk, I encourage you to take time out of your day to appreciate the nature in your surroundings. Studies have shown that those who take as little as 20 seconds out of their day every day to appreciate nature such as noticing clouds, listening to the birds and streams can have a very positive effect on your mental health making you feel much happier. FYI, you don’t need a dog in order to leave the house.
Virtual workouts and meet ups

Meet friends and family members for ‘workout dates’. Check your app store for face time software that allows you to face time over the internet with loved ones. Why not try arranging a virtual ‘pub quiz’ over the internet with friends and family. Staying in is now the new going out out.

Try at-home Yoga once a day

Again, there are many apps and YouTube videos which can show you what to do. Yoga is a great way to reduce anxiety, stay in the present moment and escape from what is happening around you.

Other useful tips
  • If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with the constant talk of coronavirus then switch off the media and news. Limit yourself to perhaps listening or watching the news only once a day or just switch off altogether. Put on a program, radio station or film that you know makes you feel happy and calm.
  • Feel like all you do is talk about the coronavirus with those around you. Try changing the topic completely. Ask which 5 people would you have at a dinner party and why? What would you cook?
  • TALK! If you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed then talk. Open up to a family member or friend about how you are feeling. Contact the Samaritans on 116 123 an amazing service who are there to listen.
  • There are some great self-help resources to help you manage anxiety. Check out Head Space which you can find in your app store.
  • Regular exercise. Exercise has a positive effect boosting ‘the happy chemicals’ in the brain which can lift your mood and reduce anxiety

A wonderful self-help web page to help you manage the anxiety caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lastly, remember the pandemic will come to an end and life will return back to normal. If we all pull together and do our bit; we will get through this.

Stay at home, Stay well, and Stay healthy! Protect the NHS and save lives!

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