Advice / 6 months ago
Advice / 7 months ago
The Antidote is Action
The Antidote is Action
Haul down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
May well be stopped by three.
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?
Covid-19 has given up more and more of its secrets as time goes by. And as our experienceof the virus grows, we are reminded that this isn’t the first time that humanity has faced thesilent enemy, and neither will it be the last. Black death, Smallpox, Spanish Flu, Aids/HIV aresome of them, and there have been many others in between, what we have continued toshow is the ability to adapt and overcome.
Leon C. Megginson, Professor of Management and Marketing at Louisiana State Universitysaid that “According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of thespecies that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is theone that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”As of writing this, we are looking down another 3 weeks of isolation, which means we arethree weeks minimum away from getting back into the gym. What has been surprisingthough is how quickly we have managed to settle into this new way of life. The Zoom classesare flowing, and I am quite enjoying watching you guys workout, especially when I can do itin my PJ’s. It feels, to me at least, like this has been how life has always been. I know thereis a better way, that’s way more fun, but it feels like we have been doing this forever. If youare working in the NHS, another emergency service or key role in holding society togethercurrently, I have nothing to complain about. I get to chill at home, working out, writing blogsand thinking of what possible talent I can figure out for the talent show. I’m not coming homeafter a 12 hour shift with bruises all over my face from masks, We cant complain aboutstaying at home watching TV when the NHS is dealing with what it is. However for most ofus, we haven’t experienced social isolation before, and it comes with its own uniquechallenges. The way we view the situation, and then deal with it is something that can onlyimprove us as more functional, evolutionary proficient human beings for after.
A favourite scripture of mine from back in my Christian days is that “God, hath created allthings, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act andthings to be acted upon.” This is a principle that has been repeated throughout the ages bythe classical stoics, to religious teachers and every other philosopher in between. Thecommon principle being that we must guide our own path, and not be completed byothers.We can choose, or be chosen for, act or be acted upon. This way of living is moreprominent in times of stress, and personal and social upheave. Frodo and Gandalfcontemplated the same. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo, “So doI,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Although we can influencethe circumstances we find ourselves in we do not have complete control over the externalworld. But we certainly can decide how we personally deal with it. Once we can harness thisway of dealing with the world, we can find true peace, serenity and confidence.
In the book ‘As a Man Thinketh,’ James Allen says that “Man is buffeted by circumstancesso long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realisesthat he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of hisbeing out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself.” Wecan choose how to deal with this Coronavirus isolation and choose to make something goodout of it, coming through the other end better people.There is nothing better than adependable person. A favorite quote of mine is from the Art of War. “He who advanceswithout seeking fame, Who retreats without escaping blame, He whose one aim is to protecthis people and serve his lord, The man is a jewel of the Realm”. Man or woman, now is thetime to be an anchor for society, in our own small ways. When the Queen gave her speech,she asked us to think how we would judge ourselves in the future, based on our actionsduring this time. It reminded me of the lays of Rome “Then out spake brave Horatius, TheCaptain of the Gate: To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late. And how canman die better Than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, And the temples of hisgods”. The Right decision, and the hard decision are usually the same, and we are in a timewhen the tough decision to stay indoors away from everyone (Netflix has made thissomewhat easier) is definitely the right decision, that we are all doing so well to adhere to,pat on your back.
So after pondering I thought I would put some thoughts down as to what we can do inregards to becoming better CrossFit humans. Tougher, physically and mentally, so that weare not only harder to kill, but also more useful people for society and the communities weare involved in, inside and out of the gym. Here are five things we can do today to make thebest of this different world we find ourselves in.
- Create a routine
We all had our routines before we went into lockdown. However for themajority of us, this is no longer the case, the old routine doesn’t work. We canuse this time now to sit down and develop a list of tasks or activities tomaximise our time, which can so easily slip away, whilst working from home. Ifind my most productive time are the hours before 12. I like to do a Cardiobased workout, answer emails, do some background work stuff, stretch andget the rest of the ducks in order for the rest of the day. If I can get all of mytasks done in the morning I have the rest of the day to chill, or do anythingthat spills over, or I don’t have time in the morning to do, such as mowing thelawn, going to grab food, or whatever. I find if I don’t plan to do them in themorning, they just won’t get done, and I will feel like it is a day wasted. Interms of planning I try to set weekly goals, and focus on those goals the nightbefore on daily goal planning. For me, this gets things done, and helps mefeel satisfied that stuff is getting done. We will all have to find our own way,but having a routine and planning it, will help us be more productive and feel more fulfilled.Astronaut Chris Hadfield said that “You don’t launch into spacewith your fingers crossed, that’s not how we deal with risk.” Setting theroutine, then taking massive action, not small little bits, will put us in charge ofour lives. If we can set the precedent now, we are more likely to continue thebehaviour when we are free.
Now the rest of these five points are really specifics that we can implementinto our routine, but are probably common amongst our tribe (I certainly hopethis one is 😛 ).Physical fitness is certainly something we all have within our control. How farthat fitness gets us up the CrossFit leaderboards is not up to us, but ourbodies are ours, our own to do with as we please and are our responsibility tokeep healthy. I don’t want to find myself in a situation where I cannotphysically do something, knowing that If I had taken better care of myself, Iwouldn’t be in the trouble I am in. For most of us, that may be pushing a car ina breakdown, entering a marathon (ha) or getting to the loo on time. The vastmajority of those who are sadly dying with Covid-19 have underlying healthissues. This is certainly not the case with all, but those with chronic illness aremore susceptible to a tougher time if they contract the virus, than those whodon’t. Marni N. Silverman and Patricia A. Deuster said that “Physical fitnessappears to buffer against stress-related disease owing to itsblunting/optimizing effects on hormonal stress responsive systems, such asthe hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system.This blunting appears to contribute to reduced emotional, physiological andmetabolic reactivity as well as increased positive mood and well-being.Another mechanism whereby regular exercise and/or physical fitness mayconfer resilience is through minimizing excessive inflammation. Chronicpsychological stress, physical inactivity and abdominal adiposity have beenassociated with persistent, systemic, low-grade inflammation and exertadverse effects on mental and physical health.” Please join our Zoom classes,if you aren’t already. We aren’t in this game to create Games athletes, but tocreate healthier, stronger people.
- Clear the mechanism
In the Kevin Costner movie, “For the Love of the Game”, they talk aboutBaseball pitchers Clearing the Mechanism, Ultimately, to “clear themechanism” as a pitcher means to remove distractions so that they can focuson the things you are able to control (i.e. throwing the pitch you would like topitch and focusing on the catcher’s mitt or target you would like to throw to). Idon’t know much about Baseball, but we have all played a sport, or written anessay or done something where things flow, and we feel almost like we are inthe zone, and whatever it is we are doing, gets done, and we feel solid afterhaving completed it. In those times,on the fly, a zoning of attention and focusto complete a task with bizarrely high efficiency. We can use this time ofisolation to clear the mechanism and get something done that has needed doing for a while, with a more conscious effort that perhaps we would if wewere in the zone. Once it is done, we have a fresh slate to work on otherthings, without it as a distraction in the back of our mind. I went to town on ourhouse the other day, clearing out all the rubbish and unused stuff we just hadlaying around. It was massively therapeutic, if traumatic for the kids, to clearaway stuff that I knew we didn’t use. I just didn’t have time to do it previously.It’s not a done job yet, but already that back of my mind prodding is gone, andI feel like I can focus on other things better. Whatever mechanism needsclearing, I would suggest you get on and do it, it will feel great after and youwill have greater attention for other tasks you may have.
- Mental Health
Your mind is going to be having to adjust to this new way of life, just as muchas our waistline is from Isolation. The support networks we had before are notas easily accessed, and physical contact with other people has been heavilyreduced, for some people entirely. Being able to gather together with groupsof friends, shaking the hand of a stranger, to cry on a shoulder or get loud in apub on game day with your mates, is no longer something we can necessarilydo. We are a social species, as cruel as humans have been over the years,we are at heart a tribal bunch who need each there to make ourselves whole.It is super tough. Those lucky of us with family and friends who we live with,and those alone, will find the mental journey of isolation the toughest part.This is where action, preemptive action is going to have the greatest impact.We all need each other, and it is important that we recognise this andreachout if we are struggling, or to help others. We are so lucky to haveZoom, telephones, emails and other communication tools to keep usconnected. If you somehow don’t have access, ask me for the gym Zoomaccount login. You can speak to family and friends you haven’t seen in a fewweeks. Speaking can have a huge impact upon your mental health, deloadingyour anxiety and fears, and your accomplishments and hopes will help keepus all going. Meditation and Yoga can help ground you in the moment, givingyou clarity and perspective on a situation that can otherwise seemoverwhelming. Exercise, lift what weight you have, run, jump, listen to apodcast whilst doing it and learn something new. This may be a good time tostart a diary, so that you have something to look back on in the future, on anevent that is going to be a key moment in all of our lives. We have plenty ofresources in the gym, we are your tribe. If you are struggling, you’re notalone, reach out.
- Plan for the future
This whole isolation malarkey is going to be over eventually. We are going togo back to work, back to the gym, back to Aunt Maudes for Sunday roast. Wedon’t know exactly how it will happen, at what pace, and what measures willbe insisted upon for how long, but things will move forward. That is probablygoing to take some serious adjusting, probably more so that being put inisolation in the first place. We probably need to sit down and think about what we need to do, as previously mentioned, to make this time worth it. I knowthat in the gym we are definitely going to increase the level of hygiene. Thecleanliness of the gym, when we were cleaning everything was awesome.Coronavirus was our bitch back then. It’s worth thinking now and planning onwhat we miss now, and doing it more often. There are things we can take lessseriously, and some things and people we certainly should spend more of ourtime on. Society will be different when we return, but in honesty, it willprobably only last a year tops. If we can come out a happier, kinder, moreproductive group, and sustain this growth, then this will have been such auseful couple of months.
This blog, turned essay, is just some of my thoughts. We’re all adults and we know whatwe’re doing. I’ve been reading a few old books, and had some thoughts that I wanted toshare. The main one being what a great group of people you are, and the pressure it puts onus staff at the gym to live up to the bar you have all set is real. To finish, ill leave you withShakespeares 29th Sonnet:
“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan th’ expense of many a vanish’d sight;
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.”