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Exercising Kindness... Literally

At a time when nothing is certain, Samantha Campbell, MSc Psychologist & wellness enthusiast, explains that the most important thing we can do is be kind to ourselves.

Following the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the country has gone into lockdown and the government has instructed people to “stay at home” in order to “save lives” and “protect the NHS”. Indeed, this is an incredibly strange time for everyone. People are adapting to a new way of life that in many cases prohibits them from seeing their loved ones or engaging in usual activities.

Many people are unable to work or are having to work from home, and naturally some people are finding it harder than others to acclimatise to the lack of routine and social isolation that comes with being unable to leave the house. Consequently, people are seeking new ways of spending their time and keeping themselves busy. As people look for entertainment and inspiration, one of the many coping mechanisms people are turning to in attempt to make the most of their time (and maintain their sanity) is the ‘home workout’.

Unable to go to the gym, attend exercise classes or participate in team sports, people across the country are discovering new creative ways to workout at home using little or no equipment. Fitness figureheads such as Joe Wicks and various other athletes are supporting this movement by uploading and live streaming a variety of different workouts on social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook to encourage people to stay active during lockdown.

Exercise can be a fantastic outlet for stress, and it is well known that there are many physical and psychological benefits to living an active lifestyle. However, not everyone has the time, energy, or motivation to exercise every day, or perhaps even at all. Whilst it is wonderful that so many people are getting involved with initiatives to keep fit and healthy, it is important to remember that you are under no obligation to be productive during this difficult time. It comes down to listening to your body and doing what is right for you.

Fundamentally, we must prioritise our mental health. If you have a healthy relationship with exercise and working out makes you feel good about yourself, then go for it!

However, if you find that you are forcing yourself to exercise because you feel obligated to do so, it may be kinder to not put that pressure on yourself and allow your

body to rest.

Exercise should be a positive activity that makes you feel happier and healthier, not a chore that you feel guilty about not completing. Some days you may have more energy than others, and that is okay.

Another thing to remember is that you are not in competition with anybody else. Although social media can be wonderful in helping us to stay connected with one another, some people may find that spending too much time on social media can be detrimental to their self-esteem and psychological wellbeing. This can happen when we start comparing ourselves to others.

Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and do not worry about what everyone else is doing. Bear in mind that self-care is an ongoing, every-changing, personal journey. It is up to you to decide what you need to do to take care of your physical and mental health, and the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself.

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