As the UK's third national lockdown is in full flow how can you stay positive, look after your mental health and wellbeing whilst making the most of ‘Lockdown 3.0?’
Firstly, as the title of the blog suggests, don’t put ordinary expectations on an extraordinary situation. We are living in the middle of a global pandemic, something none of us would have predicted 12 months ago, therefore, having the same expectations on daily life, your riding, and your goals is not feasible. This does not however mean you need to give up and be down about the situation, there are things you can do to stay positive and still progress during this time.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves or others, acknowledge the fact we are in a very strange and everchanging situation. Don’t feel pressured to be superhuman during the lockdown period and achieve loads of things ‘because its lockdown what else are you going to do?’ Realise and reflect you are going to have ups and downs and not every day will you be highly productive – but that is okay and completely normal.
Take some time to reflect and learn from the first lockdown
Take some time to reflect and learn from the first lockdown. Did you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve? Were your goals and expectations unrealistic? What helped you stay positive? What motivated you? Who supported you? By asking yourself these sorts of questions you will be able to keep the things that worked the first time round and learn from those didn’t.
See lockdown as an opportunity to target something in your riding you may not normally have the opportunity to do so. Whether it be improving your riding position, perfecting your lateral work or simply vowing to clean your tack more regularly (guilty!). Set yourself a positive and realistic challenge. Give yourself a timescale to achieve this goal, it may be the end of the lockdown period or it may take a little longer, this will help you stay motivated.
Look after your mental health and wellbeing by exercising. For most of us having horses is a luxury as we can leave our working from home setup and get out into the fresh air for an hour or so. Try to also complete some form of additional exercise such as a walk to get your heart rate up, blood pumping and endorphins flowing.
Dr Virginia Sturm from the University of California has published some interesting research on ‘Awe Walks’. An ‘awe walk’ where you actively take in and notice the beauty and awe of your surroundings. This could be something you do whilst walking the dog, out hacking or out for a walk by yourself. There is beauty in our surroundings, no matter where you are. In the countryside or urban areas there will always be something worth your attention and to stimulate your senses. Sometimes it becomes easy to be absorbed by technology and we feel addicted to scrolling through social media whilst walking or listening to music rather than taking the time to connect with nature and our surroundings. As Dr Sturm’s research group showed, awe walks can boost your mental health and wellbeing, so why not give them a try!
You are not alone. Everyone else will feel some level of anxiety around the uncertainty of the situation, become each other’s support network.
Finally, stay connected with people. We may not be able to socialise with lots of people like we normally would, but we can still stay in contact and have a social connection over the lockdown period. We are extremely lucky to have the technology available that we can see our family and friends without being in the same room, county or country as them. Keeping social connections will help you keep perspective and boost your mental health. You are not alone and everyone else will feel some level of anxiety around the uncertainty in the situation, become each other’s support network.
And remember, they key message to takeaway is don’t put ordinary expectations on an extraordinary situation.