Using to-do lists to also capture things you've done helps you understand how much you're doing each week, and manage your energy and workload more effectively.
As part of our ongoing series of articles on tackling lethargy, we’re looking at five ways to help restore more energy during coronavirus.
You can read the introduction to what lethargy is and why it’s affecting many of us here, but this week we’re focusing on exercise. Whilst sleep health is about getting adequate and effective rest, active behaviours are also essential in creating more and sustaining your energy levels.
It might seem like you don’t have the energy to get up and do something, and rest is what you need, but counterintuitively more activity creates more energy. If you’re used to exercising regularly, and your routine has slipped, getting back in the swing of things will help. If you’re not used to exercising, now is the time to get started with some small steps towards building up some energy.
Running is a both a great way to get outside, but also get the exercise in. Starting with some brisk walks, and working you way up to longer durations is both rewarding and helps your physical and mental health. The brilliant Couch to 5K plan from the NHS is a great starting point. Not only does the exercise make you feel better, the success of getting better each week is a huge motivator.
If you’re fortunate to have a bike - getting some time on the roads whilst they’re much quieter, or just circling around local parks and seeing the outdoors, is a low-impact but highly rewarding form or exercise, and also works as a brilliant way to commute, if you’re working from somewhere other than home. If you don’t have a bike, look out for local ride-share services like Lime or Santander, or perhaps connect with others in your street to see if you can share. You can also get indoor cycling stands, for if you want to cycle, but can’t leave home.
For lower intensity activity, but still making the most of the outdoor time - even just 10-15 minutes of brisk walking can really help. Use a ‘walking commute’ at the start and end of each day, to switch between being at ‘home’, and getting mentally prepared to return to your house to work, and similarly at the end of the day. It also gives you a chance to say hello to others on the way, and mixing up your route gives you some much needed variety.
If you’re needing to stay indoors, yoga could be a great option for you. Even if you’ve never tried these stretching and breathing exercises before, there are plenty of free online tutorials and guides to help you get started, and beat those aches and pains from sitting at the laptop or working from bed. Try out Down Dog. Whilst it often won’t raise your heart rate - yoga can create a calming moment which can also help you to move forwards with more positivity.
If you haven’t come across Joe’s weekday morning sessions yet, they’re a brilliant way to start the day, and designed for all of the family. Just 30 minutes of workout with Joe’s light hearted approach. See him at 9am each morning on Youtube.
No matter what activity you choose - don’t aim too high. Not only will you hurt yourself, failing at the first attempt isn’t motivating, start small, work your way up, and stick to it. It can help to find an accountability buddy that you’re doing it with, so you’re keeping each other going if you feel you’re having a day where there is less desire to get up and go.
But I don’t even have the energy to exercise!
From personal experience, I know this feeling all too well. Whether depression, low mood, or just lack of motivation - the first hurdle is always the hardest, and it can feel counterintuitive - but having some faith in the process helps, it works. Even if you just start with going for a walk regularly, helps you get into the habit. Consider doing something at the same time each day, so you aren’t tempted to just ‘do it later’, and even go as far as a star chart for yourself on the fridge.
Government guidance is 150 minutes of ‘heart raising’ activity each week - that’s just 20 minutes each day, or an hour every couple of days. Along with being allowed outside for unlimited exercise, as long as we’re practicing physical distancing, adding physical activity to your daily routine really helps to turn the tide.
Physical and mental wellbeing are absolutely intertwined, so do what you can to create yourself a little more mental energy through physical energy - you can even join the Leapers Strava club, to support each other as we stay active.
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