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by Scott Bay

March 24, 2020

Stay connected to your community, fitness, and mental health during this time away from the pool

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything over the past few weeks. Pools have closed, and there are shelter in place orders across the country. The fabric of our Masters swimming community seemed to unravel with each update.

It’s understandable if you were shocked and saddened by this. Masters swimming and the people we share it with are a big part of our lives. It’s a good idea to recognize that our lives have been majorly disrupted and pivot to how we can maintain a sense of community, fitness, and sanity while dealing with the restrictions.

Stay Connected to Your Community

With many places we gathered for workouts and for post-workout celebrations closed, where does that leave us? Social media.

The biggest caveat here is making sure your privacy settings are in a range you’re comfortable with and that you’re responsible with your posts.

Here are a few things you can do to stay connected.

  • Share your new routine: If you came up with some way to still stay active and fit, share it with your workout buddies.
  • Video chats: Those fun stories you told your lanemates between sets? Why not set up a virtual chat through social media or a video service at your usual workout time just to share the things you normally share at the pool?
  • The challenge: Challenge others in your group to some activity, regardless of what it is, to keep your connections going. It could be anything, even if it’s silly, such as stacking Oreos or folding laundry the fastest, just to get people to stay sharing.

Stay Connected to Your Fitness

Even if swimming isn’t your primary go-to activity for fitness, pool closures and restrictions still pose a huge hiccup in your fitness routine. Here are some tips that several groups have come up with to stay in shape and just like above, stay connected.

  • Check with your gym: Although most are closed, a great many are offering free or reduced-cost virtual fitness or online classes. If you have always wanted to try one, you can now do so from the privacy of your own home.
  • Look for what you can do: Depending on your location and the orders you are under, even shelter in place directives offer exemptions for outside exercise for people who are at less of a risk. If you can, explore an activity that may be outside of your normal fitness routine. If you are stuck inside for whatever reason, usms.org is exploding with fitness content.
  • The challenge: No, this isn’t a repeat of what is above. A group I coach is fond of different challenges because they all have similar wearables. There is the step challenge, the running challenge, and the bike challenge to name a few, but there is also the movement challenge and the plank challenge. There are always bragging right, but your group can award some sort of gift card or silly trophy to the person who gets the most steps or holds a plank the longest.

Stay Connected to Your Mental Health

This is a lot tougher. Many of you love routine and crave it. Whenever your routine gets disrupted, there is definitely a heightened level of stress. When it touches every part of your life, your stress is amplified exponentially.

By all means, if you’re having serious issues, seek help from a qualified professional. But some of the things below can help reduce your stress and help you handle what is being thrown at you.

  • Social media: We have a love-hate relationship with social media. On the one hand, it helps us stay connected, but on the other, it passes on, at times, a great deal of negativity and false information. Make sure you’re having a healthy relationship with your social media channels at this time. They’re meant to connect you to other people, not for you to mindlessly scroll for hours a day.
  • Limit your screen time: You can only process so much. Limit the number of news alerts sent to your phone, watch, and email. You still need to know what’s going on, but it’s OK not to be the first to get the latest update about something not important.
  • Volunteer or donate: If you live in a community that isn’t under a strict quarantine and you are not in an at-risk group, many places need help such as meals on wheels. Check on your neighbors who may be at risk and cannot go out to get necessities. Giving back to and helping others has a profound positive impact on your outlook. If you can’t volunteer, you can always donate to good causes.
  • Ask for help: If you’re struggling for whatever reason, financially, socially, or emotionally, it’s OK to seek help. Take time to identify what is making you feel the way you are, and rest assured there are plenty of resources available.

A Final Thought

Occasionally, we focus so much on what’s directly in front of us. In these unusual times, take a few minutes each day to connect, stay fit, and stay positive. It won’t always be like this. You’ll be able to swim with your Masters community at some point.


Categories:

  • Health and Nutrition

Tags:

  • Health