Joggers back out as COVID restrictions ease

Joel Julien

By 6 am yes­ter­day there were al­ready around 25 peo­ple walk­ing, rid­ing, and run­ning along La­dy Chan­cel­lor Hill.

The hill which has be­come a go-to of sorts for fit­ness en­thu­si­asts had a larg­er than nor­mal crowd size for that hour on a Sun­day morn­ing.

But yes­ter­day was no nor­mal morn­ing.

It was the first time in more than a month that cit­i­zens were al­lowed to ven­ture out­doors to ex­er­cise since stay at home or­ders were an­nounced on March 27.

And cit­i­zens yes­ter­day made use of the lift­ed re­stric­tions an­nounced by Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley on Sat­ur­day.

They did so while main­tain­ing the rec­om­mend­ed phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing.

Clin­i­cal and Or­gan­i­sa­tion­al psy­chol­o­gist Kel­ly Mc Far­lane yes­ter­day said if a per­son feels safe be­ing out­doors and is not pan­icked about ex­po­sure to COVID-19 they should make use of the op­por­tu­ni­ty to ex­er­cise.

“Ex­er­cise is a def­i­nite con­trib­u­tor to im­proved men­tal well­be­ing. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, be­ing out­doors and get­ting at least 10 min­utes per day of sun­light is a def­i­nite con­trib­u­tor to good men­tal well­be­ing,” Mc Far­lane stat­ed.

“As long as a per­son feels safe be­ing out­doors and is not pan­icked about ex­po­sure to the COVID-19, this can cer­tain­ly help peo­ple psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly. For many, jog­ging out­doors was a part of their rou­tine, so be­ing able to get this go­ing again will help them to feel ‘nor­mal’ again and get back in­to their sched­ule,” she said.

“There’s al­so the ben­e­fit of get­ting out of the house and spend­ing time alone for those who usu­al­ly love spend­ing time out­doors and have been locked away with fam­i­ly at every cor­ner and no space to work­out. Any or all of these con­sid­er­a­tions would make get­ting back out­doors for ex­er­cise a won­der­ful thing for those ex­pe­ri­enc­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress,” Mc Far­lane said.

Mc Far­lane said while some may feel a sense of re­lief with Row­ley’s an­nounce­ment of a phased re­open­ing, oth­ers may be­come fear­ful.

“You now have some­thing that you lost for a cou­ple months – choice, be­ing re­turned to you slow­ly and hope­ful­ly sure­ly. When this was per­ceived as be­ing tak­en away when the quar­an­tine was re­quest­ed and peo­ple’s time spent out­doors, trav­el­ling, par­ty­ing, work­ing etc was lim­it­ed, there were many re­ac­tions of dis­com­fort, fear, anx­i­ety, frus­tra­tion and so on,” Mc Far­lane stat­ed.

“We know that Trinida­di­ans are used to hav­ing the abil­i­ty to choose what they do and how they do it so for many this may be­gin to of­fer some psy­cho­log­i­cal re­lief. For oth­ers though, those who are more sen­si­tive to the pos­si­ble neg­a­tive ef­fects of the pan­dem­ic, this may cre­ate some fear and anx­i­ety as they look on in angst for what­ev­er comes next,” she said.

Mc Far­lane said it is ab­solute­ly nor­mal for peo­ple “to feel down, scared or frus­trat­ed some­times dur­ing crises like this one.”

“Even with­out cri­sis our moods and well­be­ing fluc­tu­ate. How­ev­er, it is im­por­tant not to main­tain neg­a­tive thoughts and moods be­cause they can mul­ti­ply and lead to in­ter­per­son­al and men­tal health prob­lems. Ru­mi­nat­ing or stay­ing fo­cused on fears and re­grets and the neg­a­tive things in your life cre­ates and main­tains de­pres­sion. Try talk­ing about your fears with some­one that you trust, who is ei­ther ob­jec­tive or en­cour­ag­ing. Make plans for your fu­ture, find­ing all of your re­sources that may help you through this dif­fi­cult time and then let it go,” she said.

“Ask your­self whether you can con­trol that which you are wor­ry­ing about, if the an­swer is yes, then write down how and what you can do about it, if the an­swer is no, seek ad­vice, start work­ing on ac­cep­tance and try to stop think­ing about it. Use hob­bies, books, cook­ing, tele­vi­sion, art etc to dis­tract your­self and main­tain a pos­i­tive mood. Med­i­ta­tion and deep breath­ing for at least ten min­utes a day can help to set­tle your ner­vous sys­tem and keep you calm. Eat health­ily and get some sun and car­dio­vas­cu­lar ex­er­cise at least four times week­ly. Keep your brain ac­tive by pro­vid­ing it with va­ri­ety and learn­ing new skills. There is so much to learn, so many free re­sources,” Mc Far­lane said

Mc Far­lane said if any­one is hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time and needs to speak with a pro­fes­sion­al, the Trinidad and To­ba­go As­so­ci­a­tion of Psy­chol­o­gists has a di­rec­to­ry of psy­chol­o­gists on its web­site.

Many of the psy­chol­o­gists who are list­ed of­fer vir­tu­al ses­sions, Mc Far­lane said.

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