I have been reflecting on the activities I have been able to continue to engage in despite lockdown and the activities I have rediscovered as a result of lockdown. I have been reflecting upon the impact this has had on my well-being. There have been a couple of moments when I have been shocked by the impact this situation has had on my thinking and emotions.

How does physical activity support my mental wellbeing?

Prior to lockdown I have always relied heavily on my exercise routine to not just keep me physically well but also to keep me mentally well and reduce stress. My preference is to exercise first thing as I just get up, get dressed and do it. I find that this helps me by

• Having a morning routine that means I feel efficient and that I have achieved something early in the day
• Feeling less stressed because I focus on the exercise routine I am following and not worrying or over thinking what the day will bring
• Improved sleep, the early start means I go to bed early and I am tired and in need of the recovery
• Creating a positive mood, the hormones released by the exercise always make it feel worth while
• Having goals to work towards in terms of getting better at particular exercises or being able to get faster at some etc.
• Connecting with others, I like to do classes enabling me to meet up and engage with likeminded people.

Fortunately, the gym I use are brilliant and fully understand mine and my gym friends needs so even in lockdown I am still able to engage via video links and maintain all the benefits above.

However, this lockdown has raised the need for me to reflect on what other activities I need to do to look after my mental wellbeing. I have realised that I am heavily reliant on my exercise routine and although fortunate at the moment, what if this wasn’t the case? What if I did become ill or unable to access the virtual gym (internet connectivity has been a big stressor in our household this week!!)

I therefore did some thinking and reading about what else was needed to enhance and support my mental well-being. Although working from home I do find it harder to focus and be as productive as I usually am. As always, I want to find the opportunities out of this current situation.

What other activities can support my mental wellbeing?

At first, I tried reading and watching those box sets/films that I had never got round to doing. However, that didn’t’ really seem to have much of an impact. I now have a pile of 5 books that I have started but unbale to get into and similarly with the TV and films I found it hard to get engrossed and found myself getting distracted. Maybe I have chosen the wrong titles or maybe I need something else to stimulate my mind maybe something less passive and more engaging.

So, I have had a go at those things that I do enjoy, and I do find captivating but never seem to get round to. Painting came to mind first and to ensure I did get the materials out and have a go I followed an online painting tutorial. Having a specific time to log on and start really helped and I have really enjoyed building my small gallery. I also got out my cookbooks and did some baking. A little tricky as I had limited ingredients but that created a challenge and made me think. A brilliant activity that I really enjoyed undertaking and then having an end product to share with others. We have had chocolate biscuits, cookies and shortbread so far.

What next?

These 2 have become my go-tos at the moment when I feel the need to occupy my mind and feel engaged in something that makes me feel good. I did try an online meditation this week which I did find difficult in terms of trying to switch off! So clearly something I need to work on! I’m also going to have a go at learning something new not sure yet if that is going to be something totally different and unrelated to existing hobbies or work or something to develop my current interests or professional understanding and skills.

What lockdown activities have you found help your mental wellbeing by providing time to relax, be creative and stimulate the mind?

I have produced a second newsletter with further tips and support, you can find that by clicking the button below.

Also if you are feeling tension in your neck and shoulders from working at home or reengaging in an hobby or interest take a look at my latest self-massage routine for the neck and shoulders through the button below.

Take care and keep safe