Confession: I need a little non-pharmaceutical help with my anxiety while the barn is closed and I can’t get in the saddle. These are my favorites ways to help keep me calm, balanced, and active.
It’s not easy to be on house arrest. Whether you are single, married, or with a full family all vying for your attention- none of us are quite at ease. After all, there is a terrifying new reality looming over us. Whether we want it to or not our world has shifted forever.
The uncertainty is what I struggle with most. I am not in control, certainly. I do not know how long my family must remain in our home or how long the barn will be closed and my horse off limits. NYC is less than 50 miles away and the epicenter of the worst Coronovirus outbreak currently in the US.
I am safe, my family is safe. Our businesses are safe for the time being. We have close family and friends who are directly affected. Our schools are closed for the foreseeable future. We don’t know what the next day will bring us much less a month from now.
The future has never seemed so scary. And yet, I can’t help but look at this as a reminder to pay more attention to the present than ever. Prior to this whole apocalypse my husband and I were discussing whether my going to visit friends in South Africa this fall was fair to the family. After all, I’d be traveling (yet again) for two weeks across the world. Leaving my clients, my family, and my responsibilities behind. No matter that I had contingency plans in place for these. For me, it was never really a matter of whether I would go. Visiting Africa is a bucket list item. To travel with friends from around the world and visit friends who reside there? Priceless. To ride horses with these friends? I would be a fool to say no.
My decision is just affirmed by the current climate. I don’t want to push things to someday. I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to be bold. So, while the world and our lives are on hold, I am still working on myself. Thinking of ways that I can keep calm and become a better horse rider and person.
As schools turn to virtual schooling many small business have done what they can as well. My local dance company has begun virtual dance classes from home for their students and local yoga studios have done the same. Wherever possible, support your local community from the comfort of your own home. Even therapists have begun Zoom or Skype meetings with their clients to keep consistency.
Contact your local gym, studio, therapist, or trainer and see if they are thinking of offering any virtual services. At the very least, maybe you will help them consider a new income stream during this time. We need to support small businesses now more than ever.
There’s An App for That
In our modern world, if you can think of something there is probably a corresponding application for it as well. Long gone are the days where you would go to the library or Blockbuster and rent a video to exercise or entertain you. Everything is at our fingertips.
While I stress that it is imperative to support your local businesses sometimes an impersonal application on your phone or iPad is what you need most. While I’m working from home and guiding the virtual schooling ship that is our new normal, I have to abide by the school schedule. That, and my husbands conference calls as well. I can’t exactly hop in my car for a walk in the woods when having to oversee my daughter’s virtual pizza Friday.
Some of my favorite applications are listed below. If you have one you enjoy please list it to the comments section so we can all check it out! *Note, these are all applications that I use personally and have not been paid or sponsored in any way.
This application is designed specifically for people on the go. This app has bite-sized meditations from the most basic 101 to one for work breaks. This one was suggested to me by my friend and fellow author, Carly Kade, knowing I could use a little snippet of sanity throughout my days. The nice thing is the guided meditations are short and sweet, and they can be customized to your needs. The application is 4.99 to download and there are in-app purchases as well.
When you open the application it first tells you to “Take a Deep Breathe” and then it proceeds to ask you what your goal is for the day. But that’s not all. It then asks deeper, follow up questions to better user experience. For example, if I click “reduce anxiety”, it then asks how often I feel anxious, what the biggest source of my anxiety is, and how anxiety appears whether it’s mental, physical, or even problems sleeping. The application is free as is the basic account. The premium account is free for a 7-day trial and you can create a customized plan. Not only that but remixed music and more designed for your needs in mind. If you like it, it is $69.99 per year but let’s be honest. We pay a lot more for yoga classes or a therapist. If this helps even a little, it’s worth or peace of mind.
Down Dog: Great Yoga Anywhere is a new found favorite of mine. I set it up on my iPad in the morning or during a break from work. Sometimes my kids even join me. While I’ve taken yoga classes in the past and know many of the moves, my body is basically that of a 70-year old woman. I have zero flexibility and while I have a surprising amount of muscle from horse riding it is hidden under a soft curvy cushion. I love this application because not only does it have yoga for beginners but you can also choose what type of yoga. On particularly stiff days where my hips are tight I can choose “Gentle” and really have a low, impact gentle stretch designed for mobility. Other days I might push it a bit more with some Hatha yoga or even take a break at my desk for some Chair Yoga. Choose the level, choose a “boost” like incorporating back bends, and more. You will never get the same exact yoga flow, it changes each time. Even better, it is a guided flow so you can follow along like you are in a class.
Don’t feel like yoga? They also have Barre, HIIT Workouts, and more. With the current pandemic, they are waiving all fees until July 1st! https://www.downdogapp.com/
Yoga for Beginners is available on the Apple App Store and is a basic, no-nonsense application for visual learners. This is not a guided flow like Down Dog, but gives the name of a technique with image and associated YouTube video. Perfect for a little refresher since you don’t have any one at home to perfect your technique. You can choose from an assortment of workouts like:
- Bedtime yoga
- Beginner yoga
- Butt toner
- Core blast
- Energy booster
- Fat burner
- Flexible flow
- Inner peace
- Morning yoga
- Power flow
- Slow flow
- Slow stretch
- Sun salutation
- Twist detox
- Yoga for abs
- Yoga for back
The downside is all the moves are in separated videos so they don’t flow. However, if you are looking to create your own flow or just get ideas this is a great option for you at home.
There are two fitness apps I use. I absolutely detest exercising in formal gym settings. I get bore and lazy. My favorite way to unwind is to do it outside at parks or trails. Horseback is ideal but if you, like me, have your horse off limits currently, then you can still go and try something new. I’ve always been at my best physical weight and cardio when jogging. My knees, however, are not a fan. So I do a lot of fast walking and intervals on uneven terrain. Not only does it keep my body guessing but I enjoy being in the moment. For me, nature is my calm. I’m a little earth child. I rarely even listen to music during this type of exercise, preferring instead to be more in the moment. You know, practice that mindfulness I keep writing about.
My husband is an avid mountain biker and runner. He told me about this application for use while I was riding, so I wouldn’t get lost. (He seems to have little faith, but I’ve definitely gotten lost). Not only does it sync to your Apple Watch for hands-free use but the nice thing is it lists all your local parks with maps to their trails. You can get directions, record your hike, share and even download. More, it lists the local weather, elevation, length of the route, and whether it is dog-friendly or good for equestrians. Definitely a handy application to have around!
Strava is a fitness tracking application that allows you to track your progress in distance, route, and take photos to upload and share with friends and followers. It is social media for the fitness junkie. While designed primarily for runners and cyclists, I have used it successfully for horse riding although the speed was a tad off. Still, Strava is a great way to track your fitness and progress while you practice social distancing. This also has a very handy Apple Watch app for hands-free happiness.
These are a few of my favorite applications and ways to keep my calm in the chaos. While not all of us may be sick, we need to stay home and survive this self-isolation together for the good of everyone. Pick up a new hobby or train your mind and body out of the saddle so that you can be even better when you are back in the barn with your four-legged loves.