Struggling with Motivation during Lockdown

We are four weeks into lockdown, and it feels as though whilst the rest of the world has dug out forgotten trainers to embrace their hour of exercise a day, I have put mine away. As someone who bores you all senseless banging on about the importance of staying active for our mental health, it is strange that come a global crisis, my exercise has gone out the window. I know a big part of this is my return to night work. As a locum veterinary surgeon, my role is to provide extra cover for practices who are short staffed. As clinics cut work back to urgent and emergency only, they are operating on skeleton teams. So, much of my booked work was cancelled and I have gone back to working emergency out-of-hours, often at night. The shifts are intermittent, but as a freelancer I am grateful for them. One of the reasons I stopped working as a night vet was the effect of chronic tiredness on my mood – and my desire to exercise. I guess it is no surprise that a return to high-intensity work and sleepless nights has had a similar effect. But with days stretching ahead with little structure, I have also found myself lacking in motivation where I thought I would crave it. I am normally cramming runs into snatched lunchbreaks or combining my commute with a bike ride. During lock-down, there is always tomorrow! Apparently I find it easier to fit exercise in to a hectic lifestyle than an empty one. I know much my mental health suffers when I work nights. It seems pretty likely that a global pandemic is going to have an effect too. So, writing this piece is me giving myself a good talking to. There should be no shaming during lockdown. This is a time where all you need to do is survive. Whatever social media tells you, you absolutely do not have to come out of this time fitter, smarter or more enlightened. Writing this is in no way me shaming myself for losing my mojo. Honestly, there are more important things to worry about right now. But for me, exercise is really important. It is the thing that clears my mind, gives me a sense of achievement, and helps me feel good about my body. Lockdown is a time where it is vital to be kind to yourself. Getting myself back out there is me being kind to my body and my mind. I wanted to write this to remind myself of that. I also wanted to write it because, amongst the hoards of new runners going past my window, there might be a few of you that are also struggling. Despite appearances, you are definitely not alone. So, whatever you do, do not beat yourself up about it. But if exercise is important for you, and you think it will help you cope in these difficult times, then take a breath and make tomorrow a new start. Or even better – today. I have given myself a talking to, and now I am heading off in the sunshine for a few easy miles with a good audiobook. No targets or time pressures, just me. I am already looking forward to how much better I know I will feel.

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