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Why Routine is Important During Times of Uncertainty

with LESLEY PATERSON, Liv Racing Athlete

This period of time has created so much anxiety around the uncertainty of our future, from the micro level of not knowing when we can race as athletes to the macro level of the world economy and health. Living with a husband who is a psychologist has helped me understand why this time has been so unsettling for most. Uncertainty is like kryptonite for the brain, it physically impacts the chromosomes in our genes and triggers a cascade of chemical and hormonal changes in our body that can have a profound effect. Have you ever been on a group bike ride and not know where you’re going, how hard it’s going to be and for how long the suffering might last? NIGHTMARE!

There are so many situations that bring about uncertainty for us – from having injuries, to changing jobs, break ups, moving to a new town, illness – so mastering how to cope with it is essential. For me personally, I’ve dealt with debilitating injuries and having a chronic illness called Lyme’s disease, so I’m no stranger to utilizing techniques to help quell the anxiety.

So, given these many instances of uncertainty that creep into our world and most specifically during something like a pandemic, I’ve found creating a routine to be the best antidote to this. It’s about giving daily certainty to my uncertainty. Most of us athletes thrive off routine for this very reason. I plan out every day the night before from the minute I wake up, to the minute I go to bed – including scheduled “downtime”. Given our current situation, being in isolation means not having access to places, things and people we are used to and furthermore, it can send us into a spiral of apathy and behaviors that are negative and unproductive.

The key things in my routine revolve around productivity of training and work, social time, nourishment time and rewards.

  1. Focusing on the small things: Even although I’m not sure when my next race might be, I’m using this time to really focus on the smaller details of my training that I often put aside while in season – stretching, rolling, imbalances, PT exercises, breathing exercises and so on. By putting the emphasis on mastering my craft, I feel a great sense of achievement each day that I’m building a stronger, more resilient me for the future of my athletic career.
  2. Creating goals: I’m allocating specific times in the day that I connect with the athletes I coach, either on Facebook Live or Facetime. Most businesses are going through tough times; however, my husband and I are choosing to see this as an opportunity to build a better business in the long run by giving more one-on-one attention to each athlete.
  3. Connecting with family and friends: I can honestly say I’ve never spent as much time on Facetime to my family as I have over the last week. In times of tragedy or stress, there’s a beauty in reconnecting with loved ones and friends. I think all our relationships will improve because of what we are currently going through. Each day I rotate a family member that I connect with over video and normally do this while I’m stretching or relaxing after training sessions. There’s an immense amount of gratitude for what I DO have at the moment and not what might go wrong.

  1. Scheduling “me” time: My nourishment time has actually been to cook. Luckily enough, we have a store within walking distance of our house so we can get some fresh air and have an outing. I’ve been looking up recipes and enjoying spending time nurturing my love of cooking which I am either too busy or too tired to pay attention to in normal non-Covid life!
  2. Being nice to yourself: Anticipation of a reward is actually more exciting to the brain than having the reward itself! That’s at least what the science supports and what certainly makes sense to me! Every evening I have a reward of some kind – a good chapter of a book, a nice chocolate bar, an episode in a new series, etc.

How do you cope during times of uncertainty? Share your strategies for creating a routine with the Liv Cycling community on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter! #LivCOMMITTED #HowWeLiv