Written by India Sherret (Canadian Ski Cross Team)
It’s not very often that we all have our lives turned upside down at once, but here we are, dealing with just that. There’s no doubt that things are weird and that they’ll probably stay that way for the foreseeable future. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past few years from sport, it’s that being adaptable is crucial to success. For a while I felt like my personal motto was “fake it till you make it” because things changed so fast on me that I didn’t ever really know what was happening. Within one year of returning to ski cross after some time off to focus on my mental health, I had a podium and was qualified for the Olympics. It was whack. Of course, it was exciting, but I was also a little afraid because I often felt so out of my element.
While that situation and our current global one is very different, they also share an important similarity: Uncertainty. When we tread in uncharted waters it's very common (and natural) to feel uneasy. That feeling of worry was protective of humans back when there was more concern about being eaten by wolves. Those that were already concerned for their well-being probably took fewer chances and therefore lived longer. However, when that worry is mixed with a chronic stress response, we enter the realm of anxiety.
Adaptability isn’t always just ‘survival of the fittest’. It also includes making changes that simply help you get by. I like to think of coping mechanisms for anxiety or other difficulties as adaptations. As someone who has dealt with anxiety for a long time, I have a lot of ways to keep myself healthy and on track, some of those methods are what I would like to share with you!
Limit your Social Media feeds
I’m not saying that you need to stop scrolling Facebook/Instagram/twitter etc. in your free time. While cutting back on social media can certainly be beneficial, it can also be a nice little escape sometimes. What you should cut back on, though, is content that makes you feel negative. Does someone you know obsessively post COVID articles? Feel free to hit the unfollow button. You get to choose what you view online. It can be worth taking a little time and asking yourself “Is this person's content important to me? How does it make me feel?”
Try something for at least 10 minutes
Sometimes it’s hard to engage in activities that make you feel good when you feel really bad. For me, getting outside in the fresh air is super important, but some days it feels like a monumental task. On these days I tell myself I will try whatever activity for 10 minutes, and if I feel good, I keep going. If not, I can go back inside. Regardless of what I choose to do, I am always grateful for the permission to do what feels good at the moment.
You don’t need to be productive
Lots of us aren’t working right now or are working in less capacity than normal. If this is you, there is absolutely NO obligation to start some sort of side hustle, or learn a new language, or master the art of banana bread. Some days you will do more than others and that’s ok. It’s alright to just be living in survival mode right now.
Your body will probably change. That’s ok.
Many people have complicated relationships with food, exercise, and their bodies. It’s an unfortunate result of living in a world chock full of diet culture. It’s common and normal to turn to food in times of discomfort and I’m here to encourage you to be kind to yourself. You don’t need to earn food with exercise, you certainly don’t need to try to lose weight. You don’t need to do any quarantine boot camps or start counting calories now that your routine is out the window. Your health is the most important thing right now, and that is often impacted more by your mental health than your body.
As scary as things are right now, I think there are positives to be found. I hope people find ways to reconnect with themselves and their loved ones. I hope the world learns to slow down a little and remember what the important things are. So, here’s to the little joys in life and the health of you and your families. I’m wishing you all happiness and safety as we move forward together.