For many nurse and midwives, 2020 has served up unexpected challenges. The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to disrupt life and work as we know it, even as some states ease restrictions. While nurses and midwives have been front and centre caring for others during this challenge, it is still important to look after your own health and well-being.
Changes to routines and work environments may have impacted your movement patterns, exercise routines and emotional wellbeing. You may have adapted your exercise and routine to maintain fitness.
These changes may have contributed to your ability do those things that support you mentally, spiritually and physically to be your best self. Every little positive move you make assists to support your fitness! There is an opportunity amongst the uncertainty to stay strong and give back to YOU.
You may be in lockdown, recently emerged from restrictions, or even still feeling impacted from the summer bushfires. Willpower and motivation are tested in times of stress. Finding a new normal with your exercise or movement routine after time away from your usual activities can be a challenge.
You may have experienced seasonal changes, being less active during the cooler months. Or, you could be working around an injury, health condition or life changes. It is important to take into consideration your unique circumstances and adapt your exercise routine accordingly.
Change your focus
Time away from your usual exercise routine can lead to an opportunity to shift focus. Perhaps finding a new approach to something you enjoy like a new gym program, trying something completely different like yoga or swimming, or just taking things into a new environment. There are lots to consider in times of change.
Utilise your health care team, such as an exercise physiologist or personal trainer while adhering to physical distancing requirements. Many have adapted to teleconference sessions and online classes or sessions.
Compassion and humility are essential, as life including our bodies change. From the way we look, to the way we function, and to the way we feel.
There may be a need to grieve as certain phases in our lives end, and new beginnings emerge. There is opportunity to adapt and refocus our goals that are meaningful to the stage of life you are at which facilitates overall health, wellbeing and longevity.
For example, regaining cardiovascular fitness or mobility after pregnancy, an injury, operation or time away from exercise can be difficult. Take your time and be kind to yourself as you start exercising again.
Time away may have highlighted the need or desire to move on from a previous exercise routine or environment. Perhaps you have outgrown running, and need to do some yoga, you may need to switch the gym for at-home workouts, and maybe you are just not missing what you were previously doing. Your netball/basketball/football season may have been cancelled. This is a great opportunity to reassess and contemplate alternatives.
Take things slowly, and gradually, allow for changes in your routine, building the habit of just showing up to exercise is more important than actually completing anything.
Wearing the right clothing to exercise, setting up a space to roll out your mat in your lounge or garage or purchasing the right equipment, shoes, or walking jacket are big steps that need to be considered and celebrated.
Try to let go of expectations of functionality, weight loss or performance, and allow yourself to be a beginner, just like when you were a graduate nurse or midwife.
When exercising from home, creating a safe space is pivotal. Things to consider include:
- Making sure you warm up when exercising to help to prevent injuries.
- Having a window near to ventilate the room.
- Enough space to be able to move freely, this may include decluttering your environment or putting things away in cupboards.
- Other people and children may need consideration, so perhaps find a regular time that is suitable to carve out for you, like before anyone wakes up in the morning.
Being a nurse or a midwife gives you the upper hand in understanding the principles of infection prevention and control when exercising in public spaces. It is about being compassionate and educating the public in our day to day lives, to help others keep us, and the community safe.
This may involve:
- less selfies
- wearing masks
- educating others
- providing your own hand sanitizer, wipes and towels or masks and not relying on others, or
- thinking about how you use your water bottle.
Some activities to do outdoors
- Bike Riding: Looking up riding paths is easy on Google Maps, and a great way to see your neighbourhood from a new perspective and cover more ground than walking.
- Golf: It may be a new opportunity to get some fresh air and appreciate the difficulty connecting the club and the ball.
Find a running buddy
Many local athletics tracks have lights on later into the evening, even if you just go for a brisk walk and get some fresh air. Finding a regular partner to run with has been pivotal in supporting my running, even when I didn’t want to, and pushed me further than I anticipated.
Enjoying your neighbourhood on foot, taking in the sights in the crisp mornings, or as the sun sets can be a great way to finish your day, enjoy fresh air and outdoor time that can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
Ask yourself if there are some activities you can build into your day to get yourself moving a bit more.
- walking to get your morning coffee
- walking to pick up groceries (carrying them can add some resistance on the way home, and perhaps make you a more conscious consumer)
- run errands, or
- park a little further away from your destination.
If you have a small space set up, or you are looking at getting into something new, perhaps trying: a dance class, body-weight workouts, stretching, yoga, Pilates or meditation.
Exercise apps can be an easy way to create an at-home exercise routine. A few popular apps and websites include:
- FitOn: Free workouts you can do at home.
- Alltrails: Find walking tracks around your local area.
- Strava: Record your runs and rides; cheer each other on by giving kudos.
- Nike training club: Another running app, popular worldwide.
- Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout: For the time poor.
- Splits in 30 days: Three levels, this one can keep you entertained for 90 days.
- Yoga with Adriene: Free yoga lessons on YouTube, and
- Alo Moves: Great for yoga, fitness and mindfulness routines.
A useful strategy may be to keep an exercise journal, contemplate and write down:
- the things that you enjoy
- the things you can do, and
- perhaps one new exercise you want to try.
For example, you may enjoy walking, and you may be nursing a back injury, gentle body weight stretches or yoga may be an option for you. You might like to try the Alltrails app, to have some more variety for walking tracks, and you might like to try Alo Moves and include two gentle yoga sessions in your weekly routine for flexibility.
However you choose to exercise ensure that you enjoy it, have fun, be safe and celebrate your achievement.
Founder Wholeheart Magazine