Stay motivated and look after your mental health through Covid-19
London Duathlon ambassador and Team GB Triathlete and Aquathlete, Yiannis Christodoulou, shares his top tips on how to remain motivated through the uncertainty that Covid-19 has resulted in.
2020 sure was a year not to remember but there are still some positives you can take out of this time period. I have struggled like many others with these uncertain times, but I have decided to share some of my top tips on staying motivated and looking after your mental health. I personally believe we have the last bit of the mountain to climb and things will start to return to the new normal slowly.
1. Control your worries
Firstly, control what you can control, and anything else? Don’t worry about it, it is out of your hands. The stress and worry about something you cannot control is not worth it as it will affect you, so the best way is to relax. What I have learnt over the year is that if I feel anxious or start to panic, take a step back for a few minutes, control your breath by breathing in for four seconds and then out for seven seconds and it helps calm down the nervous system.
I found having a worry book is very helpful. I spend ten minutes every day writing my concerns for the day in this book and also how I could deal with them. Once the book is shut, then I stop worrying about things for the rest of the day; I find it very helpful.
2. Get outside
Next tip is to get outside daily. Just getting outdoors for five minutes will go a long way to helping your wellbeing and mental health, even if it’s just for a walk. It can give you time to relax and take in the countryside, and just getting out in daylight will help a lot with your mood. I always find the sun sets me up for a happy day. There will be days you don’t feel like getting out but honestly, they are the days which are the best. If I don’t feel like running, I force myself to go out and say if I am not enjoying it after ten minutes I will come back home, but most of the time I stay out longer and end up enjoying it or having one of my best runs. Keep moving! Don’t just sit about all day if you are working from home – I walk round the house if I can’t go outside for some reason. It’s important to keep moving; it will help your health and wellbeing. I always find when I am exercising, I am relaxed, and it helps me clear my head and therefore destresses me.
3. Set yourself goals
Motivation can be tough without knowing if your race will go ahead or not. Again, this is out of your hands and what you can control is your training. Having a goal is very important in staying motivated. It can be something like I want to run a 30-minute 5k or I want to podium at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships in my age group. The latter is my big goal and is my motivation to get there. If you believe you can do it then you are halfway there, and if you keep working at your goal with smart training then you will achieve it. Believe me, I couldn’t swim in 2012, and in 2019 I won my Age Group at the European Aquathlon Championships. So, the impossible can became the possible. Having small goals to work towards as part of your bigger goal is a great way to keep motivated throughout your training too.
4. Have a sustainable training plan
Having a plan and breaking up your day with training sessions is a good way to keep your mind busy. A good plan should have the right balance of training and structured recovery weeks as well as full rest days. Breaking your training up with cross training is also very important in staying motivated. Of course, you can work round the plan if days don’t go according to plan as it’s very important to be flexible.
5. Don’t overtrain
Don’t overtrain because you will just burn out or give up. Make sure you have the right balance of easy and hard training – I find that the 80/20 ratio a great rule of thumb (80% of training easy and 20% of training hard). This has worked well for me over the years and has allowed me to get in consistent training to improve and achieve my goals as well as keeping injuries to a minimum. Mix up training often, don’t do the same things every day and every week. Changing this up not only keeps it fun and interesting, but it’s also the way you get better and improve.
I hope these tips are helpful as these are some of the things I have used over the past year to help my training, daily life and mental health, as well as just for enjoyment of course! When it comes to exercising, we all know how important it is to your health and mental wellbeing so keep moving even if you don’t feel like it. Of course, having rest days are important but not too many to a point that you stop training altogether. Stay positive and stay safe… the good times will come back.
Want to hear more from Yiannis? Check out his YouTube Channel here.