The COVID-19 pandemic has many of us busier than ever, trying to navigate new and ever changing schedules. Many of us are also out of routine, off schedule, and perhaps more inactive and isolated than before. When you couple the COVID pandemic with the racism pandemic, during a critical election year, the anxiety, stress and trauma that can arise can be crippling and seem unending. How do you escape the constant internal and external noise? How do you keep up routine for yourself and your family? Where do you go, how do you cope? These are some of the questions I have been navigating for myself, and though I haven’t found all of the answers, what I have found is that my daily routine for myself and my family, being outdoors and movement through exercise or just being physically active, has been essential in relieving and resetting me physically and mentally.
Something I hear ever so often from my husband, and others who know me well, is a comment about how I enjoy exercise and it’s almost like I crave it. And they aren’t wrong; I do feel that comment perfectly describes my relationship with being active. Throughout my life I have sought sport and exercise, and in my younger years I found joy there; however, it wasn’t until adulthood that I started to realize that these activities, and being active in general, were also helping me cope with stress and difficult times. It’s important to state, and acknowledge that we all have varying relationships with exercise and movement and that although it’s played an important role in my life, that may not be the case for some. I do believe though that once we are able to find that activity that works for us, we are more likely to continue doing it. Movement has been one of the most effective ways to cope for me. Getting up, moving my body, knowing that any amount of daily physical activity is beneficial for both mental and physical well-being, whether it’s a round of jumping jacks, a few light stretches, a walk around the park, dancing to music, playing with my children, lifting weights, or whatever feels needed or necessary at the time, has been one constant way I’ve been able to bring some clarity and focus to my day to day. One other piece of my coping strategy for releasing tension, is to connect with others, and through this time of unrest and uncertainty, I have found that connecting with other Black women and women of color has been very helpful and restorative for me. I have reconnected with and found a few groups that both encourage and support Black women and are invigorated by movement and both interpersonal and intrapersonal connection. Outdoor Afro, Black Girls Run! and GirlTrek are just three of many groups who are providing both action and connection. Over the years it has become abundantly clear that we cannot and should not go through difficult times alone, we are however, never alone in our struggles. Sometimes seeking out ways to cope and/or asking for help is challenging and new, finding what’s useful and effective in dealing with our stressors and traumas may take time and what we used to think was helpful may not hold the same impact it once did. My hope for you, and myself, is that we are able to find something that we can turn to, that nurtures us both physically and mentally, in the ways we need it to.
I am sharing four of my go to activities/workouts that need minimal equipment and/or time.
- Walk – Alone, with family, a friend, audiobook, or podcast.
- Deck of Cards Workout – Assign 1 exercise to each number and face card. Shuffle the deck, flip over 5 – 10 cards at a time, do the exercise that corresponds with the turned over cards. Jokers can be an additional rest time, or a “special” exercise, like a plank or burpees. Go through the whole deck or choose a number of cards you’d like to get to.
- Five for Five for Five – Five exercises, five repetitions of each exercise, for five minutes (running clock).
- Jumping Jacks // Option – Lateral steps, not jumping
- Push-Ups // Option – On the wall, on knees
- Squats // Option – Sit on chair, stand up (sit-to-stand)
- Plank Row, Right and Left // Option – On wall, on knees
- Duck and Jab Punch, Right and Left // Option – No ducking, punches only
*Please consult a medical professional before starting a new program or starting a new activity.
“Hello, my name is Tenia Skinner, I’m certified Personal Trainer with a MS in Kinesiology – Geriatric Exercise Science. I live in Oklahoma with my husband and two children. As a family we enjoy spending time outdoors exploring our own city or taking a short trip to hike or bird watch. I also enjoy spending time in the kitchen, adapting recipes and creating some of my own.”
Tenia H. Skinner
Tenia Skinner is a certified Personal Trainer with a MS in Kinesiology – Geriatric Exercise Science. She resides in Oklahoma with her husband and two children. As a family they enjoy spending time outdoors exploring their own city, taking a short trip, hiking, and bird watching. Tenia also enjoy spending time in the kitchen, adapting recipes and creating some of her own.”