Phoebe Pine wants to personally share with you some of her struggles, and how she has been able to overcome them with her little pieces of positivity.
For most of us the Covid-19 pandemic has been the most testing times of our lives, not just being unable to participate in the sport we love but also not being able to see family and friends, adapting to so many changes in our lives, all with the threat, and for some the reality, of losing loved ones to Covid-19.
But through these testing times, there can be light, whether it's starting up a new hobby, getting healthier or just allowing yourself to have a break and be with family around you, in person or via video; small positives can be found even now, even within this cloak of darkness that has engulfed so many of us.
One of the biggest challenges I have had to face over the Covid-19 lockdown was missing family. I am from the Cotswolds but moved to Telford in 2019 for training reasons. The lockdown left me without family for three months - the longest I have ever been without family in my 22 years.
I would have days where I would need to cry about missing them, being without them, and that feeling could go on for days, on and off. Though I missed them every single day, I knew I had to find a way to distract myself, not to stop thinking about them, but to give myself something to do to pass the time and stop my brain being filled by so much negativity.
This came in the form of knitting, dated I know, but I began to knit, and I didn't stop for the whole of lockdown, completing four scarves and three blankets. It was perfect for me because, while it didn't require much thinking, it was enough to stop my mind wandering around into its dark corners. Albeit with slightly aching wrists after, I was able to find an activity that enabled me to keep my mind busy and give me some time, and mental space, to relax.
One of my other biggest weaknesses was the news, whether it was morning or evening I would cry at the news constantly, just thinking about all the people across the globe affected by the pandemic. So, I stopped watching it. I spent my time instead, watching a lot of Netflix and Amazon Prime.
I watched the entirety of Skins, Trailer Park Boys, Inbetweeners, The Office, Friday Night Dinner and all of the Walking with Dinosaurs series I could find and more. It may seem like an overcompensation just to avoid watching the news, but I had such a terrible reaction to it and without a distraction I always found myself watching it; there was no other way for me. I really believe that, through even the worst days, finding a good series to watch, enjoy and (especially for me) laugh at can take your mind off things going on around you.
Watching programmes and movies wasn't the only way I spent the spare time I found myself with during lockdown; I was also able to keep myself positive by working on my self-care. It's easy to forget that you're a human and not just a machine. The lockdown has given me a good amount of time to relax and look after my body and mind, to recover from what I put it through in training over the years. It doesn't seem like much but taking care of myself improved my mental health ten-fold and enabled me to be more positive in the lockdown as well, by just being happier in myself.
To begin with, it was hard. I didn't want to take care of myself. In fact, at times I actually just wanted to be sad and let myself really feel what was going on. After a while I started caring more about myself, I would pamper myself some evenings by applying face masks or painting my nails or other little things that could just lift me. If you are happier in yourself, putting yourself first, then you can start to find the mentality that allows you to be more positive about the situation, alongside allowing an escape for a little while.
On a more archery related note, one of the hardest hits we had to face was not being able to shoot. Seeing other people sharing on social media that they were able to shoot made that feeling worse for me because I would worry that I was falling behind my peers. This was the hardest thing for me to over-come; going from getting ready to head into my first real Paralympic year to nothing, I really had to think about ways to keep myself positive and motivated through it.
I found the easiest way for me to feel like I could make progress was to work on my physical strength, not just my archery strength. I worked out quite a bit more than I normally do. I worked out nearly daily, taking the odd day off if my mental state needed it. But by doing this, I felt like I was improving myself without my bow, which would aid me when I was able to shoot again. When shooting started up again I was able to get back to my level faster than I would have had I just sat around for three months doing nothing, partly because I was stronger and partly because I had kept myself motivated.
Below I have summarised more ways in which I was able to keep myself together, in hopes that if we are to go back into a lockdown, or you find your own circumstances ever leave you needing to make some changes, then these tips could help you too:
Thanks for reading my take on lockdown and self-care. I really hope this can help some of you.