Fiddle Fit Middle

Become the star of your own fitness story

Fiddle Fit Middle

Become the star of your own fitness story

When getting fresh air isn't easy, let alone simple

“Get some fresh air!” is the go-to advice dished out to anyone who looks or feels in need of a health boost. What happens when it’s not that available any more?
When getting fresh air isn’t easy

We can no longer fall back on advice to “get some fresh air”

It has stood the test of time: your mother must have told you to get some fresh air at least once a day when you were a teenager.

You probably say the same thing to your own family (whether you take the advice yourself or not).

It’s thought to help alleviate depression.  It’s recommended to people who want to lose weight, stop smoking or just think things through.

Just about every health professional and even quack and snake oil salesman agrees.

We know that in its basic form, it costs nothing.  It’s widely understood to be good for our mental and physical health.  You’d be hard pushed to find anyone who doesn’t agree with it, even if they are only ever getting it when they walk between the door of a building and a car or think running’s bad for your knees.

We instinctively know it’s a connection with our ancestors, who were out getting fresh air permanently and in turn had a real connection with nature.

We understand that if you’re moving around outside, it’s more than likely good for your physical health. And even if you’re not actually moving about much, you’re still probably getting a does of vitamin D, jokes about the British weather aside.

We talk about going for a walk (or run, or cycle) to blow away the cobwebs, or to clear the mind, so the benefits of getting fresh air for mental health are also culturally accepted.

Someone who is getting enough fresh air is doing themselves good and, by extension, is doing their community good.  It helps us avoid placing a strain on health services.

It helps us to work on tying our own shoelaces when we’re 90.  It helps us to stop getting anxious about weight. It helps us feel like we’re doing something - however fleetingly.

We dish out advice like smarties: to get fresh air and not stay cooped up inside. Sometimes we see it as a very simple answer to some very complex problems. But even those who are thinking “easy for you to say, try being in my shoes” don’t dispute the advice itself.

What happens when it’s gone?

So, then, what a huge shock to our bodies, our minds and our culture to learn that the advice to just get some fresh air suddenly turns threatening and menacing and following it could do some real harm.

For so many of us, that time is now.

The threat to communities posed by the COVID 19 virus is frightening. It is so catching, that there just isn’t the public space for us all to be spontaneously going where we want for fresh air. An open window or a balcony is the best a lot of us can hope for Most of the time. Even those of us who can get outdoors in public spaces have to plan every step carefully.

The chance to go out and get some fresh air may still be there - but the spontaneity so tightly bound up with the phrase has completely gone.

Those blithe instructions to just get out for some fresh air, or statements that being cooped up indoors is no good for anyone have faded quickly into the wind.  

Public health advice about exercise and healthy living has gone AWOL, because it’s completely caught up with something bigger.  We daren’t encourage each other to get up and out, because it feels irresponsible and in a lot of cases it is irresponsible.

The health professionals are too busy trying to keep people alive and breathing to help us out.  The world has changed and something else is even more important for our health.

Feeling loss and grief

This leaves us with a void, because going out for fresh air has suddenly become bad for us. In fact, is still fundamentally as good for us as it ever was. Being cooped up indoors almost all the time still isn’t particularly good for anyone. It’s just less risky for our health than the alternative.

For anyone not experiencing the virus first hand, the extra time we have to stay indoors is contributing to a rise in anxiety in already anxious times.

We’ve lost access to the one action we can always fall back on: telling ourselves and each other to “get some fresh air”.

I have come to think that the loss is so great that we are experiencing grief.

Grief for what we have rightly taken for granted; the sheer immediate availability, the ease of going out to get fresh air.

It’s a personal opinion, of course, but as a lay person, I’m prepared to stand by it.

the sudden relegation of advice to get some fresh air to a very distant back seat is going to open up a void in our lives and that it is OK to grieve for it

Grieving to move on

That sounds really dramatic, I know. Melodramatic, even.  But here’s why I think it’s worth staying with it.

Knowing that we’re grieving gives us hope.  There is a lot of research out there on grief.  There are resources, there is support. We don’t have to fester in grief on our own for so long that it starts affecting our physical health too much or our anxiety becomes too much to bear.

Knowing that we’re grieving can give us structure. In times where all of the structures we normally rely on are disappearing before our eyes, this is comforting.

And finally, because it provides structure it can show us a path forward.

Now, I haven’t had time yet to work through all of this, but that’s exactly what I am going to do next.

I’ll be doing another post yet about the 7 stages of grief in depth and pulling out what I think they reveal for our collective situation at the moment.  I’m going to try to show how I think they relate to our duty to ourselves and to one another to drastically restrict movement.  

I’ll be sharing what I find out with you as soon as I possibly can.

In the mean time, while you’re waiting, I want to encourage you to recognise 2 things:

  1. That the sudden relegation of the advice to get some fresh air to a very distant back seat is going to open up a void in our lives
  2. That it is OK to grieve for this.  It’s not selfish. It’s perfectly normal.

I very much hope that knowing this is going to help you to start reducing your anxiety levels.

I hope that, by giving some structure to this aspect of our new lives, I can help you - and me - deal with this abrupt u-turn and help you start to think ahead, even if everything else is still very uncertain.

I hope you’ll come on this very new journey with me.  I hope we’ll all come through the week with a little more hope for our future, whatever shape it may be.


Kate

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I take your health and wellbeing very seriously, so this comes from the heart - it's not just covering my backside legally: I'm not a mental or physical health professional of any kind, as I stress in my disclaimer. If you have any doubts about the state of your health, please get an appointment with an appropriate professional. Here's to your best possible health!

Welcome

Me biting a medal
A few years ago, I got scared that I won't be able to tie my own shoelaces when I’m 70, so I started to work on my fitness.

All the advice I found made me feel I was on the outside looking in. I needed something a lot more me-centric.

Now I feel I have more control and hope for the future.

I’m sharing what I’ve learned so that you can star in your own fitness story.
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