Perception is everything

In Trucker's Health, October 20218 MinutesBy Laura PeacockNovember 5, 2021

Thanks to Covid-19, the past two years have been extremely turbulent and unpredictable. It certainly hasn’t been a smooth and easy road for anyone involved, with everyone struggling in their unique way. In saying that, we can draw one positive from the pandemic – the newfound appreciation for truckers delivering the tidal wave of online orders and the allimportant toilet paper. Covid-19 has had obvious impacts upon our economy, small businesses, and our ability to work and socialise. But, sometimes, what is overlooked is the pandemic’s influence upon our physical and mental wellbeing.

Last year required us to stay locked up at home for seven weeks, and this year we’re in again for three weeks (unless, of course, you live in Auckland and have had extended lockdowns throughout). The disruption to our work and social life can be extremely detrimental to mental health. Many households had different situations; some parents were essential workers still out working, some were working from home, some were dealing with home-schooling children, or there were people totally on their own. In other words, there was a boatload of different situations – each hard in its own way. It was especially difficult for people prone to anxiety, OCD, or who are extreme creatures of habit.

From personal experience, I can say that my two lockdown experiences were like night and day, and the difference between the two was my mindset.

I’ve been forced to realise that you cannot control a situation but you can control how you respond to it.

My general approach throughout the first lockdown was, ‘Woe is me, life is hard, when will life ever be the same again?’ I thought it would be a grand idea to eat my body weight in home baking and not break a sweat for seven weeks. This negatively impacted my mental and physical wellbeing. This year, when we got the lockdown announcement, I decided I would have a different experience this time around. I saw it as a much-needed break from work, a chance to reset and think about my future goals. I made myself a promise that I would exercise each day – even if it were just a walk around the block – and that I would eat plenty of healthy and nutritious foods.

It is amazing the difference looking after yourself can make when feeling anxious, vulnerable, and extradited from society.

If you have tendencies towards negative emotions and mindsets when you don’t take care of yourself, make it of the utmost importance to do just that. In other words – don’t poke the bear.

This doesn’t just apply to the pandemic, of course. It is true of any situation or event that throws you off your original and intended path. As I always tell my clients: “It is never a good time to lose weight and be healthy.” You can always think of a reason why you cannot look after yourself. So why not think of the reasons why you should? Things such as feeling good, increasing your productivity and positivity, and improving your overall health and wellbeing.

Here are a few quick tips to reset that mindset and push through a tricky barrier or life situation.

Set out a non-negotiable time to exercise during your day

If you come up with excuses why you don’t want to exercise in the evening/ after work, smash it out in the morning. If you feel more energised and awake later in the day, choose that time. Base it around the time that you enjoy being active, or simply just choose the lesser evil.

Get friends or family to help you to stay active and healthy

If you need help achieving your health and fitness goal, don’t feel too shy to reach out to a friend or family member who may be able to help keep you accountable. Whether it be an online group check-in chat, or Zoom workouts, whatever is going to aid you in keeping to your plan.

If you’re having a hard time, talk about it

It’s all very nice to slap on a fake smile and pretend life is butterflies and rainbows, but it gets to a point where it drags you down to carry that burden. Talk to a workmate, family member or friend you trust – someone you know won’t be judgemental. If you do feel too shy or embarrassed, you can always journal. Write down how you’re feeling, scribble down your thoughts because sometimes, when you see your thoughts on paper, you soon realise that they are perhaps slightly irrational, or easily solvable in time.

Don’t be hard on yourself or set unrealistic goals.

When you feel anxious, down, or vulnerable, the worst thing you can do is set loads of high arching goals. You may think it’s a positive thing to set goals – and, of course it is – but if you are feeling a bit down trodden, the worst thing you can do is set unachievable goals, and then be disappointed in yourself. Set achievable, measurable, and straightforward goals. It feels good to tick things off and achieve things you set out to do.

Instead of ‘I will not eat any chocolate through this whole lockdown’, you could say ‘I will eat a chocolate bar every third day’. I certainly know which goal would be more achievable. You give yourself the parameter to still enjoy your treat, but you’re improving your overall wellbeing with a small step.

Life at the moment can feel strange, unpredictable and frustrating – but it is important to focus on the positive things we experience every day. They don’t have to be huge; they can be as simple as ‘there was the perfect amount of milk left to have my morning coffee this morning’. The more we focus on these miniature wins and successes throughout the day, the more positive our overall outlook.

Give it a go – you will be surprised how many glorious things happen.

Laura Peacock – Personal trainer TCA Fitness Club