RUNNING is what Jean Flynn calls her medicine to help soothe her anxieties and manage her mental health.
When the coronavirus pandemic kicked in, Flynn's anxieties went up a notch and so too did her running, only for the overloading to create a common iso injury. Flynn hurt her Achilles tendon and was sidelined from running. Her mental health deteriorated.
Flynn said the pandemic had undoubtedly put everyone a little more on edge and mental health was an increasing issue. For those, like herself, who had a pre-existing tendency for anxiety, the pandemic made every concern more acute.
In a detailed follow for SBS program Insight, Flynn writes not of feeling miserable but feeling nothing - "And believe me, feeling nothing is far worse", she says - and detaching from every one and every thing around her. You can read herfull account here.
In between lockdowns, Flynn's parents came to visit her Ballarat home and she was reluctant to let them inside. Only, when they needed to use the toilet and Flynn found herself lecturing on how germs could spread with a flush.
"It wasn't just thinking (my parents) are from Melbourne and potential COVID carriers, but also I could have it and give it to them...It was hard to enjoy time with them," Flynn told The Courier.
"When I'm at my best, I'm still quite conscious of germs and dirt but now I'm definitely really conscious of all that stuff.
"...I'm actually lucky I am working from home. I'm fortunate to still have a job and one I can do from home. The kids are at home. At the moment, I feel relatively okay in a safe bubble."
It wasn't just thinking (my parents) are from Melbourne and potential COVID carriers, but also I could have it and give it to them...It was hard to enjoy time with them.Jean Flynn
Flynn shares her story because she wants to encourage everyone to find what works for them in managing their anxieties and stress amid the pandemic - whether they had existing mental health concerns or feel niggles emerging.
Injury was not new to Flynn. About two years ago she was sidelined from running for about four months. This time, in lockdown, Flynn was conscious to not find herself sitting around.
The gym was out, so Flynn tried to substitute in other home exercises or workouts but these did not quite have the same effect.
Flynn nursed herself back from injury and while the pandemic still heightens her anxieties, she is okay and managing.
"I wouldn't say I'm feeling wonderful, but who is?" Flynn said. "I can keep that level by running. Anxiety is still there everyday when I read the newspaper, coronavirus is there every time I turn on the television news."
Flynn misses the social aspect of running, particularly living in a city with such a strong running community. Every group Flynn runs with, she feels supported without judgement on speed or fitness or the brand shoes she wears. It is just about running.
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