Staying motivated during lockdown by Abbie Robinson, GB Paraclimber
Abbie Robinson, our Ambassador who is a member of the GB Paraclimbing Team, shared with us how she was managing during lockdown, and how she was maintaining a routine and keeping up her training. Her advice on how to get, and to stay motivated is great when applied to current times when things aren’t yet back to normal, but also useful when applied to normal day to day life and finding motivation.
“The world all seems a little surreal at the moment. For most of us, many aspects of our lives have had to change, whether that be in our work, social life or living situation. For me, as both a final year University student and a competitive athlete, I’m having to finish my studies and continue training from home with the uncertainty of whether any of our competition season will still go ahead. We all have different ways of dealing with such uncertainty; so, I thought I’d share some of the steps I’m taking to stay positive, motivated and calm whilst doing my bit and staying at home.
I’m generally an incredibly busy person and I don’t often spend much time in the house – I probably put in more hours at the climbing gym than I do at home! So, like many others around me, I’m having to compromise, create new routines and adjust to this new normal. Whilst I won’t pretend this isn’t challenging (especially as someone who is very active and loves routine!), I can also recognise this is an ideal opportunity to reflect, slow down and work on forming some good habits.
Life can be incredibly stressful sometimes; we all move at 100mph and want everything done yesterday. So, whilst we may not like it at first, this is the perfect opportunity for many of us to take a step back, breath, and practice a little self-care. My approach to self-care so far has been to spend some more time with my family (whom I’ve rarely seen since starting University four years ago!) and to allow my body some much-needed respite from high-intensity training. And, most importantly, lots of baking!
As an athlete for the GB Paraclimbing Team, I train most days and at a relatively high intensity; for those who’ve tried their hand at climbing, you’ll know it’s difficult to do that at a low intensity! As I’m currently nursing a knee injury and some other little aches and pains, the current circumstances have provided me with a little forced rest and an opportunity to take a much-needed breather. I’m hoping to use this time instead to reflect on what has and hasn’t worked for me over the last 6 months as I stepped up my training massively. I think this opportunity to rest and reflect is really important for those who have stressful/busy jobs or, like me, try and get a thousand and one things done in a day.
That being said, I’m a big believer in staying active for the sake of your mental and physical well-being; even some light exercise is a great means of relieving stress or anxiety and increasing self-esteem and confidence. For me, this takes the form of a daily walk and some daily yoga with the addition of some strength-based home workouts a few times a week in order to maintain strength for climbing. I may not have a home climbing wall to train on, but I’ve got some weights, a pull-up bar and some other bits of gym equipment to keep me ticking away nicely and I’m certainly learning how to get creative with what I have lying around the house! For finger strength, most climbers train using a fingerboard (we hang off slots of varying sizes, sometimes adding or taking away weight), which I also have set up at home and this is allowing me to maintain the strength in my fingers and forearms while I don’t have access to a climbing wall.
I’m lucky to live by the beach and can get out for a solid hours walk whilst maintaining good social distancing; I would recommend everyone, where possible, tries to get out each day (even if it’s just for 10 minutes!) to blow the cobwebs away and cure that cabin fever. I also find yoga really relaxing; it encourages us to shift our focus onto our body and breathing, so it’s difficult to think about anything else! Even 5-10 minutes a day can leave you feeling refreshed and much calmer. There are some great free resources on YouTube that progress from beginner to total pro (I’m certainly not the latter!) and you really don’t need to be an expert to feel the benefit. Just make sure you start off easy, it’s very easy to get put off by these things if you try something far too challenging to begin with. So, I would encourage people to give it a go, but don’t put too many expectations on yourself!
Perhaps the most challenging part of the current circumstances for me is my change in routine; I’m not super regimented but we’re all creatures of habit, right?! Typically, I wake up at the same time each day, eat similar meals at similar times and I train at the same times each week. So, for me, a great way to relieve some stress and allow me to think more clearly when I’m training or studying is to create some simple routines at home. This has included waking up at my usual time (mostly!), heading out for my walk at similar times each morning and planning our weekly menu with my family (this is particularly important as we are now only going to the supermarket once a week). I also try and write down a few simple goals for the day or week; some of these are productivity related whilst others are more centered around my mental well-being that remind me to take care of myself and look at the big picture. I try not to put too much pressure on myself to complete them all but ticking the odd one-off can be really motivating. These loose routines have allowed me to maintain some form of structure, which is helping me stay motivated, maintain some normality and, most of all, keep track of what day it is!
It seems home workouts have become the new ‘in-thing’ and everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon, finding new and creative ways to replicate their training or gym session from home. For the most part, I think it’s great to see so many people getting creative and managing to stay active from home. It’s easy to come up with excuses or talk yourself out of staying active during tough times; so, I think this time will prove to many people, myself included, that they’re capable of more than they think when times are tough and resources are limited! Whilst I see many people are setting themselves inspirational fitness goals, I personally don’t want to give myself too many expectations as it’s simply not the way I work best. Sure, I’d like to get better at handstands and that’s certainly a little goal I have to keep me ticking away while I’m at home. However, I’m certainly not putting too much pressure on myself to make any major gains while I’m out of my routine and in a challenging situation as I simply find that too pressurising.
Like I said earlier, I think the key to maintaining motivation and making progress is to start off easy, easier than you want to. Jumping in at the deep end can often lead to reduced motivation, risk of injury and a higher chance you’ll give up after the first two weeks (there’s a reason the gyms start clearing out by mid-January!). So, in a nutshell, I think keeping active and setting some simple goals is a great way to stay positive throughout these circumstances; but, a sure way to success is to take it steady and keep it consistent!”
The Wilberforce Trust is dedicated to helping those with visual impairment, sight loss, hearing loss and other disabilities across York, North Yorkshire and the surrounding areas.