Guys, I feel like we are at mile 18 in a marathon COVID race. I have run a few marathons, and there was something about miles 18 that makes it so challenging. You have come so far – 18 miles, and still, you have 8.2 more to go to finish the race. I remember my first marathon in Los Angeles; it was pouring rain. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t pack extra food. I had trained with some friends, and still, that didn’t prepare me for this weather and the slog in the 50-degree weather and the pouring rain. I had to rely on strangers’ kindness passing out bananas and oranges to have the energy to finish. Also, from a physical standpoint, you have most likely burned your glycogen stores at this point. Your body can quickly activate glycogen when it needs energy; however, we can hit the wall when we run out of glycogen.
Without enough energy, the body relies on fat and lean muscle for fuel. Decreased lean-muscle mass decreases strength, endurance and musculoskeletal function, which will decrease performance. Fat as a fuel source does not necessarily come to the rescue of a bonked athlete. Fat takes longer to convert into energy when compared to glycogen, causing the athlete to not get fuel as quickly as it is needed”.
Why am I sharing all this? Why am I talking about marathons and running and miles 18? Because my students, my friends, and my family have all shared that they are so tired – they are “hitting the wall.” We are depleted and pulling from sources that do not convert easily to accessible energy. We might have relied on references in the past, our family, friends, the friendly barista or waitress that gave you a burst of life, and your morning coffee – they are all depleted as well. We are so close to a new normal. We are close to hugging our friends and celebrating birthdays with loved ones without fear of getting COVID or giving it to someone we love.
At this time of depletion, self-care is so important, maybe more than any other point of the pandemic. What can you do to fill up your tank just enough for the day? In yoga, the breath is central to the practice. Can you take 5 minutes a day to consciously breathe? Can you take whatever your age in-breath before you roll out of bed or grab your phone? For me, that would be 45 breaths. We need to replenish our glucose stores. Can you go for a run or a walk by yourself if you need a break from your family? Can you take a bath? Can you read a book for fun? Can you sit in the sun for 5 minutes without your phone and listen to the birds or the wind?
For me, yoga isn’t about how flexible I am or how I can contort my body; it’s about how I walk through each day of my life. This past weekend in school was focused on cancer, and three brave, wonderful people volunteered to participate in our session. They allowed us to hear their story and watch as our instructor worked with them. They all had different prognoses, and it reminded me of the beauty of how we view the world. I can view this pandemic as a series of restrictions and hardships that are happening to me, or I can see this as something we are collectively going through and hope that it changes me for the better. I am not the victim of my story. I wouldn’t say I was the hero either. I don’t need to be rescued, and I don’t need to save everyone. Today, I will put one foot in front of the other and breathe. Today, I will try to show my family compassion for their level of depletion. Today, I will pivot one more time in this pandemic and let go of my expectations of what each day should bring. Today, I will be grateful for a conversation with an old friend because of a mail glitch. Today, I will take 5 minutes to sit in the sun. Today, I will reach out to a friend so I don’t lash out at my family because I feel frustrated. Today, I will Marco Polo, my besties, about 10 times so we can vent and cry and encourage each other through our day because we can’t see each other, and our kids never let us talk on the phone. Today, I choose to accept the things I cannot change; I choose to have the courage to change the things I can and hope for the wisdom to know the difference.
Suppose you are at the wall in this pandemic. Can you take 5 minutes to put one hand on your head and one just above your navel and breath in hand above your navel? If you can’t do 5 minutes, can you start with 1 minute? Can you take one step to replenish a little bit of energy and be kind to yourself?
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