Huge thanks to our resident guest author, Tim. In this piece, he opens up for discussion and consideration the hot topic of COVID-19 and the impact on our wellbeing the global shutdown can create.
If you’re hoping for a universal aspirin then it’s a pretty daft question, really, because it can and it can’t. It can’t stop you from becoming infected with COVID-19, nor can it mitigate the infection should we be unlucky enough to contract it. But we can look at the things we can do mindfully to make our lives easier.
By staying mindful we can keep ourselves level headed and calm.
We have the choice over how we handle the rather frequent messages from our government and others. Mindful understanding means we need to choose how much to listen to or read, and, of that, how to process what we see.
An example is looking at the thing that fascinates us all, the inevitable rising number of deaths. If we are mindful, we realise that the actual number of deaths, while each individual is important to those who love them, is only interesting as a percentage of the true total number of those infected. Since we do not know that number, all we can view is the number. We have no percentage. Mindfully, we understand that deaths will happen and that they will increase as the ailment progresses, but that the actual figure is neither important, nor frightening. It is, simply, a number.
If we treat all that we see and hear with quiet #mindfulness then our emotional health will not suffer to the same extent as someone who is not grounded by mindful thought. Sure, we will have stresses, but at a lower level.
We can achieve some degree of physical resilience and attack boredom by taking some form of exercise that we would not, normally. There is a suggestion by medical professionals that increasing our physical fitness is related to our emotional health, but, and more importantly, our body’s ability to withstand illness.
It’s the same, they have said, as becoming physically fitter before surgery. Recovery time is shortened, and symptoms are alleviated. So it’s an option where we cannot lose, more so since endorphins released by exercise tend to increase our emotional wellbeing.
As I write this, we are allowed to exercise for one period a day outside our own home.
The Effect of Social Distancing and Staying at Home
I have been doing this since the day after the UK Lockdown, being careful to be at least 2 metres away from anyone as I do so, even if I have to go out of my way to do so. This is my regime. Yours will be different.
I am in the process of shedding that weight. As lockdown started I had reached 93kg starting at 101.6 in mid-January. I intend to lose weight with some fluctuations until I hit 79kg. I’m 178.5cm tall. Part of the weight loss has been by walking every day and including a steep hill every alternate day. But I do not particularly want to encounter other people.
Mindfully, I have considered what my house and locality has available. For cardio fitness I need to climb, to gain height; for ordinary fitness, stamina, I need to walk some distance.
My house has stairs. My park has a short circuit with a flight of stairs. My back garden has a ridiculously steep set of stairs.
I decided to use these for an entirely arbitrary start to exercise; arbitrary because I knew (mindfulness again) that I had no idea what my body was capable of. I started with a view that I would walk up 40 flights of stairs in 10 flight periods, recovering fully between them. It was sufficiently tiring at first, but I almost enjoyed it.
I noticed, on climbing, how my legs started to rebel after the third upward flight (I go down again between flights!), loosened around flight 6, and re-tightened at flight 10.
That’s exercising mindfully, noticing things rather than just puffing and blowing.
I noted the differences between the first, second, third and final 10 flights. I chose to find this interesting and thus the repetitions were not boring.
At a couple of days in, I swapped 20 of the domestic flights for a short circuit with a flight in it, and added in a full circuit of the park on every 10th flight. As I performed this I meditated. You can do that while walking. I meditated by noticing my surroundings, litter, grass, other people, dogs, all the while considering how I was walking, looking at my posture, my stride, my foot placement, and by understanding what I was doing.
Very soon I have been able to increase the number of circuits, the number of domestic flights of stairs. I was pleased to notice yesterday at the end of 10 flights that flight 11 was possible, and was intrigued that I increased that set to 20 flights without undue difficulty.
This is good not only for my physical but for my emotional health.
Today I have chosen a rest day. It’s not that I need one, nor is it that I want one. I know that my muscles need a day’s rest to rebuild in order to restart tomorrow, so I am doing this, and noticing how I feel not exercising. I’ve given myself the task of writing this piece for Bob, not that he has a clue it’s heading his way!
Looking mindfully at what I’m doing, I am protecting my emotional health and my physical health and interlinking the two in what I’m doing.
And, to do so, I am making use of what I have. What you have available will be different.
Wash your hands.
Now wash them again.
Clean your computer keyboard, door handles, fridge door, kettle handle, taps. Wash your hands again.
You know all that advice about hand washing? No-one has yet told us to wash our towels! Wash the towels often.
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).