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Coping with Covid

I am currently in my third ‘lockdown’ thanks to Corona – and no it’s not because of the beer, it’s THAT Corona.

When Covid 19 first hit I admit I was a little skeptical. I was heading to Perth for work and I was more worried about my company cancelling the trip because this time I was bringing hubby with me and we were going to spend the long weekend with the family. Thankfully we got to go and all I noticed was that there were a few more people than usual wearing masks at the airport. We had a fabulous weekend with the family, meeting our new nephew and catching up with everyone before hubby flew home and I came home a few days later post my work meetings. On the flight home I started to hear a little more media about Covid but I again didn’t pay much attention. I had about 2 days in the office after returning home until we were told if we could work home then we should. That’s the last time I was in the office – It was March 13.

The first lock down I was still rather skeptical – I understood why we had to stay at home and I understood that there was a community at risk and yet I still didn’t grasp the seriousness of the situation. That is, until I started to speak to friends in Europe and it became very real very quickly.

My first week of lockdown I didn’t know what to do. I am a creature of habit and Tuesdays I get up at 4:30am and drive to the Dandenongs for a trail run to get in some hill training. But I couldn’t do that anymore. On Thursdays I run to work and have a bacon, egg and avocado roll from my local cafe for breakfast. But I couldn’t anymore. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning because I could get away with sleeping in. I didn’t want to wash my hair or wear a bra because I could away with it. I did the bare minimum I needed to do for work because I was sick of working off my laptop on the couch, but also because I could.

By week two I had been on social media WAY too much. I had also sorted out my work station and finally had a desk and a chair and started to be more productive. I worked out that whilst in isolation, which was now called #iso, I had to achieve everything. I wrote a list – I would run 500km in May to raise money for MS, I would write Dad’s book, I would read a book a day, I would learn to paint, I would lose 10kgs because I was eating less and this would make me a faster runner. I would watch all those shows that I have ‘saved’ on my Netflix list but never watch. I would map out a plan for my Rotary group public image, I would clean out the wardrobe, I would clean out my running gear, I would do 20x the stairs in my apartment every morning, I would learn to cook…. The list went on

Week 3 and I was already beating myself up because I was not keeping up with my book a day and I hadn’t yet learnt to paint and I still hadn’t cooked anything but eggs on toast. I also hadn’t done any strength work despite downloading and paying for a subscription app to ‘make me strong’.

Week 4 and I continued to beat myself up – Some mornings I wasn’t running because I didn’t want to get out of bed and then I would beat myself up for being lazy. Some days I ate more than 3 meals a day and felt guilty for it. I would have a wine at night and then tell myself that I would give up booze the next day. Oh and continued to add ‘things to achieve’ to my list.

On the 1st May I started my challenge to raise awareness and funds for MS research by running 500kms in the month of May. The challenge is actually to run or walk 50km but I am an ultra-marathon runner and love the long distance so I was upping my game. It felt SO good to have a challenge to tackle and I threw my list out the window and went for a run instead. I LOVE to run – I don’t do it for any other reason than I love it. I love pushing my mind and body for long distances and I love the feeling of just me and my body experiencing the elements. Day one was wet and cold and I loved it even more. I came home, had a hot shower and ate the biggest breakfast you have ever seen. Just like that – all that expectation dropped away. I was doing this challenge because I loved to run and wanted to get that back, but also because it had a real purpose to me – I raised over $1000 for MS research and that touched a lot of my colleagues and friends personally and that really inspired me. 

I stopped trying to read a book a day, I stopped trying to learn a skill, and I stopped trying to get a 6-pack or lose weight. I delete the subscription based app and I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. When we are living through a pandemic the important thing is to look after yourself and your loved ones. It’s important to be safe and not catch the virus, it’s important to look after your mental health and prioritise self-care. It’s important to talk about it if you are struggling and find a bit of joy in your day. I stopped pretending that I was ok and I told my boss that actually I am struggling a bit - he opened up to me in return and now we look out for each other and talk openly about daily struggles.

My running became my haven to escape the media and the world. Working from home means you can be trapped into an endless newsfeed of social media updates and the TV replaying media reports. I learnt to turn it off and take a break. My Instagram feed was telling me that I had to learn something new and come out of #iso with a new body – I un-followed those accounts. In a worldwide pandemic I find it incredibly frustrating that people are even using the term iso-belly and are more scared of putting on some weight than dying of a virus. If eating carbs and having a glass of red wine at night is your idea of self-care then DO IT. It’s ok to eat – particularly carbs! If you want some chocolate after dinner because you have spent the day remote schooling 4 kids whilst trying to run your own business and your hair has turned considerably greyer – AND you cannot even go to the hairdresser – THEN EAT THE CHOCOLATE!

It’s more important than ever to be kind to each other. My husband recently cooked me fish and chips for dinner – Yep, I am pretty pleased with myself that I fell in love with a man who not only loves to cook but is awesome at it! Usually he would buy fresh fish and do it all from scratch. He cut a few corners this time and let’s just say it wasn’t up to his usual standards. I was grumpy and dreading the harsher restrictions kicking in that week. So I told him dinner was shit and the worst thing he ever cooked. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I realised I was letting the emotions get the better of me. Rather than storm off to bed with a good book or Netflix on the iPad I just owned it. I apologised and told him that I was struggling with all this Covid crap and I was feeling really down which just meant that he copped the brunt of it.

We threw out the rest of the crap dinner and ate chocolate brownie instead with a good bottle of red wine. I didn’t once think about how this meal would affect my #isobelly, or how ‘naughty’ I was being eating chocolate. Instead I was grateful that I had been honest about my feelings to my hubby and we had shared our emotional rollercoaster together. The next morning I went for a run because I wanted to move my body – not because I wanted to burn off my food. It is OK to eat whilst in isolation. After my run I put on my pj’s and went back to bed and cuddled the dog for a few hours because sometimes life if shit and we just need a good cuddle with our fur babies.

Rather than focusing on all the doing, it’s ok to sometimes just be.

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