Wellbeing Matters: keeping your body going in a pandemic

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In our weekly spot where we chat about mental health and wellbeing, a few words on the impact on the body for the less able during lockdown.

Hello everyone, and welcome to Wellbeing Matters, our weekly spot to ask how you’re all doing here at Film Stories.

I let rip with an almighty Twitter whinge last week in this spot, lamenting three months plus in lockdown, with not a toe peeped out of the front door. I muttered about spontaneous combustion leaving only two skinny little feet, a finger pointing skywards and a ginger wig. I was only half joking.

Fun as a commodity is in short supply right now. Those little pleasures and outward looking moments of engagement. A bimble along the seafront. Writing this column in a branch of Costa.

There’s a balance to be had between fear and fun, wellbeing and self-isolation. I suspect I’ve tipped into the fear a little too much. Deconditioning is a term used to describe the gradual decline of the body for those people with long term health conditions. Without moving, stretching, walking, the body loses fitness incrementally, and once it’s gone, it is very difficult to build back up.

The emergency of ‘long-Covid’ sufferers post viral is one element of this. I’ve been reading stories of this with a grim recognition as someone with long term debilitating conditions triggered by viral infections.

Pre-pandemic I volunteered in a mentally challenging but rewarding role. I’m not sure when I can return without risk. I miss having a useful role in society. I won’t be alone in having suspended my life. Truth is, I’m scared to resume my normal activities. Scared of the wolf outside the door. But I’m becoming increasingly concerned about what is happening to my body in lockdown.

That daily walk I’ve been unable to take is overwhelming my thoughts right now. I miss using my legs in a meaningful manner. Shaking my mind free of dust.

It would be easier if I were a turtle. Carry my house on my back, have a protective shell to retreat into when feeling threatened. Instead, I have to build my own defences, with masks and sprays and wipes, attempting to maintain social distance. The fear of Covid-19 is real for many of us. It might not mean death were we to catch it, but it could mean deconditioning on a grand scale, potentially beyond the point of return.

There’s a balance to be found for all of us. Risk versus safety. I have nothing but admiration for those people who have stepped up, stepped out and taken care of the rest of us. The parents, the carers, the essential workers. The people who had no choice but to step over that door thresh, step over fear, and who have enabled those like me to stay safe at home.

I need to face my fears, seek courage. Find the joy in the seemingly mundane again. Step over that door thresh into the outdoors, letting my wonky leg lead the way. There are multiple versions of me across the land.

If you see people in masks, looking timid as they try to put one foot in front of the other, perhaps give them a bit of space. Not everyone who looks well is well. There are fears inside many of us that will take considerable time to overcome. We all have different starting points, different races to run. Masks, maintained social distances and sanitisers are our protective shells, helping to reassure us that it’s safe to cautiously re-emerge into the world.

Be gentle with us.

Stay safe, stay well. And thanks for reading.


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