Five tips for digging deep and carrying on

Love it or hate it, we’re all familiar with the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On”. Originating in 1939, in the spring before World War II, it was intended to help Brits keep calm - that although we may be suffering, it’s no reason to start acting in a rash and hot-headed manner - and to carry on - to look past the bad behavior of our rudest guests, and to go about our daily business as if nothing has happened.

This phrase holds true now as we face the rudest of guests, COVID-19, a guest that just won’t go away! But as I was taking an online spinning class, hearing the motivational words of my instructor, it hit me that maybe a better phrase to help us get through these challenging times is to “Dig Deep and Carry On”, for although keeping calm is helpful, what will help us now even more is to dig deep.

And that’s because keeping calm can only go so far, for it doesn’t address the problem, it merely avoids it. Digging deep, on the other hand, is about looking inside to see your strengths and potential, and using them to help you reach your goals. It’s about resiliency, and your ability to bounce back after setbacks, which I know we all are experiencing.

So how do we do this? Let me share with you five tips that I took away from my spinning class:

1. Mix it up

One of the reasons I love this particular spinning instructor is that she mixes it up - the music, the exercises, even her words of encouragement. By doing this she keeps me motivated and entertained throughout the entire class, even when I’m exhausted and want to give up.

This reminded me of the importance of mixing things up, and trying different things to help motivate and work through the challenges. For me, it’s simple things like working in different parts of the house so that I don’t get bored standing at my desk, or talking to different people to bring diversity into my conversations, or even trying different exercise classes instead of spinning every day.

2. Prepare to fail

When my instructor said that we should be prepared to fail, I was a bit surprised. Surely she’s here to encourage us to succeed, but what she explained was that we all have good days, where classes would be easy, and bad days, where we’d just want to give up. And, she said, that’s OK, it’s OK to fail from time to time as long as we keep coming back to the class.

This is so true, for we all should expect to fail as we face our challenges. We need to dig deep to get through the bad days, accept them, and move on to the next. See failures as opportunities and learning moments, and carry on.

3. Be proud

As words of encouragement, my instructor shouts out ‘be proud’ throughout the class, proud that you’re here fighting and proud of what you’re accomplishing. Sometimes in the midst of a challenge we forget this or take it for granted. But if we’re going to get through these difficult times we need to pause for a moment and be proud of our accomplishments, celebrate our successes, and recognize the differences they have made to ourselves and to others. So a big well done and be proud of yourself to each and every one of you!

4. Find energy moments

Another phrase my instructor shouts out from time to time is to find energy moments, meaning to dig deep to find that burst of energy to help you get up the hill, finish the sprint, or whatever the challenge is. I love this concept as it reminds me that sometimes that no matter how exhausted I am, or how much I want to give up, there is always energy with me. Find the energy, be the energy . . . you get the idea!

5. Work through the lactic acid build-up

And finally, this tip follows on from the last, and has to do with working through lactic acid build up, which is what happens during strenuous exercise when your body is low in oxygen, causing muscle pain, cramps, and muscular fatigue.

As my instructor reminds us, we need to work through the pain, knowing that it is temporary and that we can overcome it. And, by the way, it always surprises me how quickly this happens both on the bike and off, for one minute everything is horrible and the next minute (or possibly day when it comes to life), things have gotten better. If we keep this in mind, understanding that there will be pain, but that we will get past it, it can help us on good days and bad.

So there you go, five tips to help you dig deep. Please feel free to add to them, to make them your own, and share them with others so that we can all . . . dig deep and carry on!

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