Keeping your spirits high in uncertain times

John Inverdale, walking sports ambassador at Just Get Active

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A few weeks into this extraordinary period in all our lives, we’re being bombarded by messages of positivity from all sides. Do this. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Don’t worry. Be happy.

‘Easier said than done’, is the phrase that keeps recurring in my mind. But once you’ve got past the stage of lamenting the fact that, right now, every day feels like Groundhog Day, there really is only one thing for it — to try to make the best of things.  

Exercise in the fresh air and sunshine, once a day

If you’re adhering to the Government guidelines, and hopefully you are, of only going out once a day, then make the most of it. Now that the weather’s getting warmer, the sun shining down on you can work wonders on wellbeing. Fresh air is life-affirming, so enjoy it to the full.


You could go on a run (I know that word is outlawed in the world of walking sports!) or a walk, or a combination of the two. We walking sportsters also know that exercise is kind to our mental wellbeing, as well as our physical health. So, move where you can and let those endorphins — the ‘happy hormones’ that the brain releases — flow.


For this reason, look for opportunities to move at home too, now that walking sports is on hold and we’re all a little more sedentary. There are so many ways to stay active, whether that’s stretching in front of the telly or dancing along to your favourite song. Move around the house, whether it’s walking around the garden if you have one, or simply getting up more frequently for a glass of water. You might have seen the ‘Stay At Home Challenge’ on social media, which I’ve taken part in myself. Just grab a ball, or any household item like a toilet roll, and see how many ‘keepie uppies’ you can do.
 

Do what makes you happy (and move a little more)
 

Keeping busy will take your mind off any worries and being productive brings a sense of pride that lifts your spirits. However, you can only sort out the spare room so many times, and try as the schedulers might, there are long gaps during the TV day when you really don’t fancy watching anything.

 
My day yesterday involved watching Notting Hill for the umpteenth time. I’ve seen it so often I could almost recite it word for word, but it was the first time I’ve done it while sitting on an exercise ball and holding (admittedly not very heavy) weights! The film made me happy — it always does — but the fact that I’d done some exercise at the same time made me even happier.


If there’s one thing that our current incarceration should make us realise, it’s that ‘sitting’ doesn’t necessarily always have to be followed by the words ‘doing nothing.’

Connect with your walking sports family
 

I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone in the last three days, talking and (I’ll admit) moaning to friends. Let’s face it, we all like nothing better than a good moan. But while moaning, I’ve been doing leg raises and stretches!  The great thing about mobile phones is that they are mobile, so I’ve walked round the house having lengthy conversations and noticed I’ve done 1,000 steps! It’s the little things that make a difference. 

Getting in touch with your walking sports family, whether it’s over the phone, on your team WhatsApp group or recreating the post-game cuppa over video call platforms like Skype, is bound to keep your spirits high. Reminiscing, sharing stories of your day-to-day life and, most importantly, laughing is so good for the soul. No one wants to feel alone at this time, so lean on your support network and no doubt you’ll brighten their day too.

Of course, there’s always a welcoming walking sports community on Just Get Active’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages as well. Here you’ll find fellow players, volunteers and coaches in Warwickshire and the surrounding areas specifically. It’s an online network waiting for you!

Get stuck into a good book

I’ve started a good long book — long being the key word — and I’m excited about going back to it later on today. My tip is not to read it all in one hit, no matter how gripping it might be, so the anticipation keeps me upbeat if ever I start to feel a little low during the day.

If your reading material starts running low, there are always audiobooks. Listening, instead of sitting and reading, means you can keep mobile crack on with other activities. Whether you like an exhilarating thriller or historical romance, there are endless options at the click of a button. A good story is enjoyable, but also offers a sense of escapism.

Take up a hobby

Positive thinking goes a long way. Use this break from the bustle of everyday commitments as an opportunity to re-connect with a hobby you enjoy, but perhaps don’t usually have time for, or find a new one that motivates you to get moving in the morning and makes you happy. Whether it’s reading like me, sewing, painting or cooking — don’t underestimate the mental health benefits you’ll experience. Why not look into online courses available? From cocktail making to cake icing, learning a fun new skill that you can show off to your team-mates when you’re able to meet, and chatting to like-minded people on an online community, might really put a spring in your step.

We all have our ways of dealing with this current situation, and anyone who tells you there is a definitive way of coping with the occasional feelings of isolation, or claustrophobia, or boredom, or a combination of the three, is not to be trusted. However, music and conversation and (virtual) human contact and the knowledge that so many people are doing so much to help keep the country on its feet, all help to maintain a sense of positivity about now and the future.

If there is to be one motto during this period for the walking sports fraternity it has to be: ‘keep in touch and keep moving’. Maintain those links that have become so important to your life and oil those body parts that need regular maintenance!

The exercise ball is my new best friend. And if it’s lucky, it might get to see Notting Hill again before I’m back on that walking sports pitch again.