About Davide Lanfranco
This year it could be said that Blue Monday will be even bluer due to a recent surge in COVID-19 infections and the strict lockdown restrictions that we all hoped would stay in 2020 – undeniably one of the toughest years for many people.
Although science, once again, has come to the rescue by means of a vaccination, our lives have already changed drastically due to COVID-19. We have all had to modify our habits and routine, making significant changes that impact both our work and personal lives.
The three lockdowns we have endured in England have forced people to spend much more time at home, with the lack of our usual day-to-day exercise – such as walking to work or going to the gym – resulting in many people developing new aches and pains. Furthermore, being confined at home has been challenging from an emotional point of view.
We all tend, to different extents, to fill up our lives with an abundance of people and activities. We often avoid our thoughts and problems. The chronic distraction of our busy lifestyles means we can develop an aversion towards mindful awareness and openness to our emotional life.
Being forced to spend more time at home, without the comfort of our social circle, has made us face these fears and anxieties head-on. The paranoia over what may happen next, to our own health and the ones we love, and the depression many may be experiencing as a result of loneliness, have been very challenging.
Similarly, those living in large household groups may also have felt a lack of ‘me time’ or personal space. Parents have much less time for themselves, working from home while simultaneously home-schooling their children. Whatever your living situation, emotional tensions can be, understandably, high.
If you add, on top of all the aforementioned challenges, a bad diet due to comfort food, an increased intake of alcohol and a poor sleep pattern you have the perfect recipe for a physical and mental breakdown.
As physiotherapists, this is something we are acutely aware of.
Starting to reframe things
It’s essential to remember that we’re not alone. We’re all in this together and so many of us will be experiencing the same negative side effects of this global healthcare crisis.
One way to start to slowly improve things is to use this experience as a learning point. To begin with, as much as being aware of the downsides, I personally feel it’s helpful to be mindful of the positive impacts this pandemic has had on our mental and physical health. For me, it’s made me understand how unsustainable our lifestyles can be and start to think about what I want life to look like once we are through this. It’s also shone a light on the vital importance of our healthcare system.
If we take a moment to start thinking like this, we might all find small victories. For example, it is estimated that the average London worker spends 74 minutes each day commuting. Working from home has resulted in millions of people having more time on their hands to do the things they love and using this time to fit some exercise in will lower stress levels and protect our personal and emotional space.
There’s also been a boom of online content to enjoy and support to benefit from. For instance, fitness instructors, such as Joe Wicks, have made exercise easy, enjoyable and accessible to everyone.
An increase in exercise not only leads to stronger bones and muscles but also results in a healthier mind, better quality of sleep, healthier appetite and a more stable mood. The positive impacts of exercise, in fact, affects every aspect of our lives. With online videos you don’t even need to leave your living room.
At the therapies department of The London Clinic we have made all our professional services available online via our Connect digital offering. People from all over the world can easily access a diverse team of physiotherapists, psychologists, clinical rehab specialists, dieticians and occupational therapists for bespoke treatment from the comfort of their own home.
At the end of the day, what determines our quality of life is not really what happens to us. Rather, it’s how we react to unforeseen circumstances that are beyond our control – such as a global pandemic!
As the psychologist Steven Hayes says: “Life asks us many questions and probably the most important one is: what are you going to do about difficult thoughts and feelings? The answer to that question determines the trajectory of our life.”
In light of all of this, the pandemic has taught us that we can’t carry on living like we did before. This Blue Monday why not take a moment to think about some things that are not necessary in our life – and treat ourselves with love, compassion and kindness.
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.” Mary Oliver
Contact the Physiotherapy department directly on +44 020 7616 7651 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the services we offer patients, including video consultations via Connect by The London Clinic.
Arrange a video consultation with Davide Lanfranco.
Any views expressed in this article are those of the featured consultant(s) and should not be considered to be the views or official policy of The London Clinic
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