5. Well/Being? – Physical Wellbeing

Well Being Physical

Before the pandemic began, if anyone had asked what kind of things might keep her awake at night during a global health crisis, she would have said without question; fear of illness and loss of livelihood; for both herself and her loved ones. And who wouldn’t say the same? If there was a top 5 list of pandemic worries (and she was sure that someone had indeed compiled one), death, health, and money would probably be up there.  What she wouldn’t have anticipated was long, sleepness nights filled instead with mundane worries that, to recount six months on, was more than a little embarrassing.  In the early days of lockdown her nightly obsession was weight gain, of all things.  Days of being sedentary (mainly caused by a sudden increase in workload; staffing levels were cut and students needed hourly support) plus what she suspected was peri-menopause, caused an alarming widening of her hips and midriff which couldn’t be hidden by loungewear or baggy tops. She fretted over it nightly and then fretted about the fretting; what a ridiculous thing to be concerned about in the midst of countless deaths and trauma!  In the meantime, a couple of things had happened which seemed to aggravate the night terrors further. In the short window between lockdowns, her mother was diagnosed with cancer completely out of the blue; then, the following week her rabbit became ill. Both events coincided with the start of a very busy term and the stress of starting online learning with 100 students.    #2

I’m a social runner … I couldn’t run on my own
Before the first lockdown I done three half marathons and I was due to do another half marathon in March.  I’m a social runner, I belong to a group, we run and chat.  I lost that completely, couldn’t run on my own.  I tried to pick it up between lockdowns and then we got lockdown again so I completely lost fitness.  I was aware of that, it was a gutter because I’d worked so hard to get up to half marathon.  I’m back to it now, I’m only running three miles at the moment, three times a week with my group, very far away from a half marathon now but yes, that took its toll on me, I think.  #8

My Strava charts flatlined
Looking back at calendars and schedules for the past year, the thing that has really given is time to do the running, cycling and being outdoors that I really value and find so vital to keeping happy and peaceful in myself. I meticulously record my rides and runs on Strava.  The charts essentially flat-lined in 2020 and through into 2021.  And where exercise is recorded, that’s usually the only time I have made it out my chair that day.  It’s actually quite painful to look at this – at how much I have allowed work to really take over and how a commitment to supporting others has led to such a lack of care for myself.  Zoom lifestyles and socials were really not appealing at the height of lockdown ‘socialising’ – there was nothing appealing about another sit down in front of a screen after continual work meetings.  So keeping in touch with friends really suffered in the heigh of lockdowns and our world became very focused on home and the four of us within it. #21

The house was getting smaller by the day
All of a sudden, my morning routine seemed strained and I was finding it harder and harder to get up with a positive mind set. The house seemed to be getting smaller by the day. My normal release of stress has always been sport, and with lockdown this was torn away from me and I didn’t have a back-up plan. The uncertainty of how long this was going to last, cast a greying cloud over me and I couldn’t really see how I was going to get over it.   #17

I’ve experienced a lot more pain
I have a condition which is genetic and it mainly affects my joints but I’ve experienced a lot more pain partly think because of being more sedentary.  I’ve also put weight on which hasn’t helped. I’m usually out, busy, I don’t go hiking for miles and miles, don’t get me wrong, but I Iike doing things and I’m busy and moving around.  Pre-pandemic, I was swimming at least three times a week and I’m just starting to get back into that but I shelved it for a long time because it’s difficult to get slots at swimming pools at the moment.  So, I think it’s had a negative effect really.  I feel like it’s progressed the condition that I have faster than maybe it would have done otherwise.  It’s one of those conditions that it could improve again, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a permanent progression but it’s definitely had an impact on that.   #28

I like biscuits too much!
I’ve put on weight, disappointingly, but that’s because I like biscuits too much when I’m sewing, and I’ve been doing a lot of sewing. I’ve also developed a problem with my hip. So, that’s sort of, prevented me doing any real physical exercise. Not that I was much of an exerciser beforehand, but, yes, it’s meant that I can’t really do much at the moment.    #26

I feel I’ve aged
I started with a frozen shoulder and that had a big knock on I think … not so much mentally, but on my general physical health, because I couldn’t exercise as much, and I didn’t want to because I was in pain. Then the sort of perimenopause stuff was kicking in and I think again that might have been happening anyway, but it happened at that time, so it was like, oh god.  I feel that I’ve come out of the pandemic like I’ve aged hugely, because all of these age-related things were happening at that time.  #2

Add in the perimenopause!
I was walking from my study to the dining room and the kitchen, and that was it. And when doing the homeschooling, I would be not really moving for ten to twelve hours a day, which was not good. I had quite significant back issues and problems and have invested in a very swanky office chair which has helped lots. But, again, there is resentment because of the financial investment I’ve had to make towards working from home. The only thing work provided was the laptop and they’d given me that already. So, there is a fancy chair. There is the headset. There is a desk riser. There is a laptop riser. There is a keyboard. There is a mouse.  And it all adds up to quite a lot of money for sorting it.   So, physically it’s not been good, and I’m struggling to get back to exercise. I think I need to go and see an osteopath and get a few things sorted out. Mentally, it was definitely not very good, although I think I’m coming out of that with still the bubbling, seething resentment. Add in the perimenopause and it’s great!   #1

Take a painkiller and hope for the best
I’m seated at my desk by 6.00 am so that I can accommodate paperwork before the meetings start. By the time the first meeting starts at 9.00 I might already have a headache which intensifies during the day and I really need a break from the screen, but it’s not to be so I take another painkiller and hope for the best.   #5

Fatter but feel much better in myself
It’s impacted my wellbeing on a positive note rather than to its detriment because I would be in the car at 6:00 to beat the traffic or on the train or wherever.  So, they were long days, most because we’re out in the countryside.  Even if I went on the train I had to drive half of the journey.  Quality of life is much better without that commute at either side. It’s taken a lot of getting used to, both of us being around but we’ve worked that out.  We walk every single lunchtime now for at least an hour, just to go, just to walk the dog and put the world to rights.  I kept joining the gym at work but then I’d never keep it up.  So yes, I’m fatter because the fridge is there but I feel much, much better in myself. #4

Taking my cup of tea for a walk
I left sitting in the office a lovely double screen desktop arrangement with an ergonomic chair that was especially bought to mitigate my back pain with an inflatable support in the lower back and I’m not using it and it’s been 14 months.  If I bring it home now, how long am I going be at home for? I just don’t know.  There are lots of good reasons why I don’t feel like exercising. I feel exhausted, I don’t feel very motivated.  It is my responsibility, but those external factors are real and actually happening.  If I’m going to find my way through it, I’ve got to find something within me that enables me to adapt.  So, for example, this week I’ve had a bit of headspace, you know, things are slightly quieter in terms of like hectic meetings and so on.  My boss is away, so I managed to get up and go for a walk in the mornings.  I’m rubbish until I’ve had my first cup of tea so I took my cup of tea for a walk.   #7



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