The Pony Podcast
Lockdown Survival Tips
Are you struggling with Lockdown or losing motivation with no competitions on the horizon? We sat down with Jenni Winter-Leach from Flying Changes Coaching to help you find a way through.
Lockdown is a strange thing to happen to us and it affects different people in different ways. In 2021 we were all hoping the Coronavirus pandemic would be behind us and we would be looking forward to returning to normality, but that doesn’t seem to be the case yet. In November we sat down with Jenni Winter-Leach from Flying Changes Coaching to learn more about why lockdown affects us and what we can do to cope with it.
Lockdown affects us because it involves lots of change that we don’t choose. We all lose things as a result, for example, connections, socialising, freedom and control over aspects of our lives. A lot of people find this hard. The current generation are especially affected because we’ve never lived under government restrictions, such as those imposed in the Second World War and so we’re used to having more freedom to be able to live our lives. Lockdown is also accompanied with a lot of uncertainty around things like jobs, income and the future; when this is coupled with social media it can lead to some interesting behaviour. The March lockdown was slightly different to the two following ones because it was suddenly upon us, whereas for the next two we had a couple of days’ notice, which gave us time to plan. As riders less has changed, a lot of us can still ride, train and see our horses, and the nature of our sport with all of its ups and downs gives us a resilience that makes us very well prepared for the change in circumstances.
So what can we do to cope with lockdown?
Plan and Prep – People tend to be divided into planners, panicers and not-going-to-happeners. Having a plan and putting yourself into the planner group brings back control. Think about how you felt coming out of the last lockdown, did you come out with a better frame of mind or an empty gin cabinet? If lockdown gives us anything it’s more time and we will be spending that time in an environment that leads to learning and growing. You can’t do anything about the situation, but you can control your mind and body. Sports people love achievement, so what do you want to achieve? If you are still working and riding you might not have much time for new things, so it’s also ok to plan down time, or plan your free time so you spend it doing things you want to do.
Coping with the Mental Challanges
For a lot of people, mental health was a big issue that was brought on by lockdown. Like most things mental health issues sneak up on you and it’s the cumulative effect that is the biggest problem. It can be quite a daunting thing to deal with on your own, so below are a few tips to deal with any issues before they overwhelm you:
Each day have a way of checking in with yourself without judgement. Ask yourself, ‘where am I at?’ and listen to how you answer that question. Are you critical? Do you compare yourself to others? Do you tell yourself you aren’t good enough? Focus on things that make a difference, if you focus on the negatives then you’ll notice more negative things. Your brain has filters and if you set them to positive then then you’ll find more positives. Morning routines can be a useful way of making you stop, check in and set your filters for the day, but make sure you find one that works for you.
Fear lives in the future. If you’re feeling anxious it means your brain has projected into the future and has created a reality based on past experience. Stop for a minute and focus on the here and now, it’s just your brain creating scenarios that haven’t happened yet.
Connect with others and get support. You might find your friends are struggling too, so you can help each other to catch things before they get too big.
Look at what questions you’re asking yourself. If they are things like, why am I not good enough? Your brain will find an answer. The difference between negative and happy people are the questions they ask themselves. Flip the question into something like, what can I do to improve?
How much pressure are you under? People are good under pressure, they go into fight mode, but this can also be used as a distraction so they don’t have to deal with anything. This can lead to burnout and when the pressure is taken off and they have time to think, then everything comes out at once and it can be overwhelming to deal with. Listening to audio books, especially self help types, can be useful when you’re driving. Plan and prep is useful at this point, because you can do something for you, such as riding, cooking or reading a book. Taking time for these activities will give you energy back and they help with mindfulness by focusing your brain.
If all of this sounds like a lot to go through, we asked Jeni for one thing that would make a difference. Her answer was to notice what you’re saying to yourself. We all have an inner critical parent, but some are more critical than others. To deal with this, try stream of consciousness writing. Get a big pad of paper and a pen and write down whatever comes into your head. This frees up your brain to process change. Go through these thoughts and notice any recurring themes or things that aren’t useful. Think about what the opposite to these are, there’s always a silver lining.
Overall anything that makes you focus like knitting, driving or riding is good for mindfulness as it lowers the amount of adrenaline and cortisol in your system. Many of us live on these hormones, but doing that burns our bodies and brains out, affecting our memory and ability. We are human beings, not doings, so make sure you plan in some time to switch off and recharge. We all have different needs when it comes to taking time out and we want to do the thing that is right for us, but it can be hard when there are people around you that disagree. Everyone is going to have their own opinion, so make sure you are clear on your boundaries, it’s all about balance.
If you’re worrying about the current situation, take a moment to think ‘where am I right now?’ Is there something you need to find out? Someone to speak to? A book to read? What have you got? If you still have food to eat and a roof over your head, put that into perspective compared to the rest of the world and find what you can control to make sure you come out of this lockdown in a better place than you went in.
If you want to listen to the episode in full you can find it here.
You can find out more about Jenni at www.flyingchangescoaching.co.uk
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