The past four weeks have caused dramatic changes to our usual lifestyle. We are currently experiencing unprecedented circumstances, resulting in many of us being unemployed and the rest of us having to work from home.
As practitioners we are unable to assess and treat clients in the way that we usually do. People are anxious and there is a lot of uncertainty. Our normal lifestyle and routines have been disrupted and everyone is pondering the question, “How long is this going to last?” Although, I cannot answer that question, I think it is important to try to maintain or establish routines despite these circumstances.
Personally, I have found myself staying up late and sleeping late. Like many people, we are unable to work in the same capacity that we used to (physiotherapy is now through tele-rehabilitation instead of in person). Others, are being forced to work from home and hours may be flexible, as they no longer have to go in to the office for a set time.
My routine is off and I find myself feeling unmotivated, tired and anxious. For this reason, I believe it is important at this time to try to maintain or adopt a new normal routine.
My past experience as an elite level cyclist supports this. Personally, I was always at my best when I went to bed and woke up around the same time. Training more or less occurred around the same time and my eating patterns were consistent as well. In fact, life was so routine that I didn’t need an alarm, my body simply knew when to get up.
I doubt that my experiences are any different to the majority of athletes. Although athletes have to adapt to changes, they try their best to control the little things, giving structure to their days, weeks and months.
Although it may be difficult to set long-term objectives at this time, we can try to establish healthy routines. Healthy routines include exercise. Fortunately, here in Victoria we are still able to go outside, which in itself is refreshing.
Safe exercise during this pandemic is beneficial psychologically as well as physically. Psychologically we are constantly bombarded with information about COVID-19, which can leave us feeling anxious and fearful.
Research has shown that anxiety (worrying about COVID-19) activates the body’s stress/inflammatory response. However, exercise has been shown to be effective in reducing chronic stress-induced inflammation. In addition, to reducing stress-induced inflammation, exercise activates endorphins and works on those problems (ie shoulder, knee, etc.) that are bothering us.
This is a great time to add those specific physiotherapy exercises to your daily routine. If we can establish healthy routines during this period of uncertainty, we are more likely to maintain these routines when life gradually returns to normal.
Despite all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we can adopt healthy routines which give our days structure and leave us feeling energized and refreshed.