I published this on September 16th but it turned up in my drafts folder… not sure what happened there….
Am I suffering (post)-COVID funk? Last week I talked about the idea of mini habits suggested by Stephen Guise and the strategies used by Michele Bridges in her 12WBT Challenge (12 Week Body Transformation) as ways of getting myself off the couch, or more correctly out of bed and into action.
Let me set a few things straight, it’s not that I am NOT exercising or eating OK it’s just that I know I can do better. A lot better. I know that once it’s done I feel GOOD after I have exercised first thing in the morning. That smug sense of self-satisfaction gives me a real boost for the rest of the day. My problem has been maintaining or re-establishing my preferred routine.
There have been two factors that have led to my routine crashing around my feet, one novel and one that happens every year. Firstly, the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 and the second, winter.
Been here, done that, sort of.
I can see from my Facebook memories that this time last year and the year before and most likely the year before that, I was in a similar space. On top of that, we have COVID.
Speaking with friends, reading social media posts and a quick search of “post COVID funk” on Google shows that I am definitely not alone. There are a plethora of articles already published claiming we’re all feeling like this. That is, unmotivated and not liking it.
The advice is consistent. Get off social media and get outside (after you finish reading this post of course). Stop watching the news. Eat well, sleep better, connect with friends.
The bass guitar blog even agrees with me on the benefits of mini habits
It is common to hope for motivation to show up to make us want to practice. But a more useful strategy is for us to show up for a small, doable task – regardless of motivation being involved or not – and then celebrate the fact that we did the task.
Motivation is overrated.
Regular short practice bits (and feeling better about ourselves for having done them!) are underrated.
Focus on a short task – one scale, one verse of a song, one technique exercise. Then high five yourself for having done them. The good feeling the high five creates will have you coming back tomorrow. (If you want to know more about this, check out this book).
More serious concerns
My personal situation is not a dramatic problem and I anticipate my laziness will begin to evaporate once we head towards spring and the mornings are brighter and warmer. I have a secure “essential job”, I have a house where I can retreat to if needed. I really have very little to worry about.
There are real concerns that some people will develop more serious health issues and potentially post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the months of uncertainty and stress. For many Australians, particularly those on the east coast, COVID hit when we weren’t yet over the devastating fires of summer. Just as families were getting back on their feet, we were locked inside. Health care workers and other “front line” people haven’t had a chance to catch their breath. They have lurched from one crisis to another.
According to a report from The Black Dog Institute (one of Australia’s peak mental health bodies) people who have had positive diagnosis of COVID-19 are also at a specially high risk.
“In past pandemics, patients who experienced severe and life-threatening illnesses were at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, months to years following their illness [12, 13]. Appropriate systems and supports need to be put in place to screen patients, especially hospitalised patients who have survived COVID-19, to screen for common mental health problems and to provide appropriate psychological supports.”
I have spent enough time wallowing and when I look at the hardship some others are experiencing, I am embarrassed. I need to recognise the privilege I have and stop whingeing! I’m going to use the idea of mini habits and JFDI to drag myself up by the shoelaces and get out there and exercise.
Next month, I am going to look more closely at mini habits or more specifically Tiny Habits. I will post a review and executive summary of the Tiny Habits book by BJ Fogg. (Similar idea to Guise’s mini Habits)
In the meantime, I am off for a run.
If you are suffering from severe anxiety and are seeking more useful help than I am talking about here please reach out to people who can help. There are some great resources here at the Black Dog Institute’s website.
Australian readers can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for mental health support.