This month’s blog party is hosted by Taiob Ali (b|t), and they ask how are we coping with the pandemic. Last week England entered its second national lockdown, which is slated to last until December 2nd, so now more than ever is a good time to reflect on some effective coping strategies. Thanks Taiob for hosting and I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s mechanisms.
In the prompt it was suggested we could break this post down into three buckets: mental health, physical health and professional growth. Three really important areas so I’ll do just that.
Changing the order slightly, I’m going to start with physical health – as it’s easier for me to talk about.
Fitness and being active has always been a big part of my life. I played football (soccer) from the time I could walk until I graduated college in 2009. After that my fitness floundered until around 2011 when a friend encouraged me to try CrossFit.
CrossFit gets a bad rap in some circles, but my experiences with the sport have been almost all positive. I know that when I show up to class someone is going to tell me exactly what the plan for the day is and then I’m going to get after it with a group of people from every corner of life. This is perfect for me, it feels like I’m playing a team sport again, and the workouts are varied and challenging.
In the UK, gyms were closed during the first national lockdown from March until almost the end of July. Our gym was kind enough to let members checkout some equipment and still posted daily workouts that we could complete at home. This was great, except I struggled to stay motivated without the structure of going to the gym for a class. I started to skip workouts, which made me feel worse about the whole situation (physically and mentally).
When gyms were able to re-open on July 25th things felt a lot easier for me, even though there were still a lot of restrictions in place. To start with I was really anxious about whether it was going to be safe, but the gym did a fantastic job of implementing COVID measures to enable us to workout safely. My wife and I figured out a new routine, with me working from home we were able to go to the gym at lunch most days, and I almost immediately started feeling more in shape and healthier again. We found a new ‘normal’ that worked pretty well for us.
Then November 5th happened. England has now entered lockdown 2 and gyms are back to being closed. Add in another factor, sunset today is 4:29pm! The days are getting shorter and it’s dark after work which is going to make it harder to stay motivated. It’s been a bit of a ramble up until now, but this is where my coping strategies come in!
My strategy is just to do something. I know that I feel better when I’m active so I just need to dig in and do it, easier said than done. I’m going to split this into three parts:
1. Lunchtime workouts
I’m unbelievably lucky that my wife is the most motivated person ever and I know she’ll work out most days. I just need to stick with her and I’ll be ok. My goal is to workout, bike, or walk on lunch as many days as possible.
2. Yoga (3-4x a week)
I also want to add in some yoga. My flexibility is shockingly bad and I can easily do yoga inside which will be a good after work activity.
3. Plank Challenge
I saw a tweet from Kendra Little last week on her fitness plans for lockdown and she included working on planks every day. I am also terrible at planks so I’m going to jump in on this and join her with a plank a day.
With a bit of a plan under my belt I hope that I can stay more active this time around and I know it’ll make everything else associated with this lockdown easier.
The second topic is something that I (and I think a lot of people) find harder to talk about. This year has been tough (understatement!) as my wife and I uprooted our lives in Ohio and moved to England in January. I had a great career opportunity and we decided to take the leap, with the biggest pros being the opportunity to travel around Europe more easily and to be able to spend time with my family, neither of which have really worked out.
Instead we had just a couple of months of that plan before we were locked down, unable to travel and unable to even visit my family for several months. We now lived in a place where we knew basically no-one, perfect for a global pandemic.
However, we managed to make the most of what we did have available. The rules during the first lockdown were that we could leave our house 1 time per day for exercise, so we did a lot of walking. We are lucky that where we live there are miles of public footpaths through beautiful English countryside. We had fun making new routes and mostly being able to follow them (I have zero sense of direction).
We also watched lots of movies. I’ve probably watched more movies in 2020 than I have in the rest of my life all together. It was nice to have some time to do that.
The coping strategy here is to simply make the most of what you have. I will work on being grateful for the things I do have available and overall try and stay positive.
One benefit of this global pandemic is I have more time on my hands. Without the commute to work everyday I get almost 2 hours back in my day. Also my calendar has never been this low on social events, so there is free time everywhere! Have I put this to good use and worked hard in this professional growth category? Not really, no.
I’ve found it really hard to be motivated to blog, something I’d previously worked hard on making more consistent. I have made a couple of short videos and spoken at a couple of virtual conferences, but overall I’ve been struggling to get content out.
I did manage to find some motivation during Hacktoberfest, which is a month-long party to get people contributing to open source projects. I submitted some PRs and was reminded how much fun it is to fix bugs and write new dbatools commands.
My coping strategy here is to ride this renewed excitement and get some content created. I have a whole list of ideas, I just need to set aside some time and work on them.
This has turned into quite the ramble, so thanks for reading if you’re still with me! To sum it up, I know I need to stay active – this is really the base for everything else. If I workout I feel better about everything else. It’s as simple as that.
I know that this year has been tough for everyone. I hope some of these strategies will be useful to other people too. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter if there is anything I can do to help. We can get through this together.