Coping with COVID and The Disruptions in 2022

Finally, I got COVID.

The symptoms were mild- a bit of sore throat, tiny bit of headache after I got out of bed, a tiny bit of coughing. That was it. Maybe this was because I was triple-vaccinated? Or perhaps the variant that hit me was kinder.

During this week, I paused exercising. I stayed at home. Annoyingly, my mind decided to go crazy. So I had to nurse a stupid wave of stupid thoughts in the middle of having COVID. COVID might have caused the breakdown. I don’t think so, because this COVID really wasn’t bad at all. It wasn’t taxing. But who knows how my brain works.

I am recovering today. I am experiencing another “morning after.” It is refreshing after a long break, and I am in the mood to reflect.

This year has been full of long breaks- I was sick more and for longer. I was mentally overwhelmed more often too. Plus, there was a longer lockdown in Hong Kong earlier this year. It has been interesting observing myself going in and out of my routines and habits.

Since 2011, I have not had long breaks from my workout routine. I might have taken a day off my routine for maybe 10 times in the last 10 years. This year, I have taken multiple weeks off, and I have found the changes during those periods interesting.

Since I haven’t paused exercising for so many years, the first time I stopped for 7 days, my body finally had the time to recover and was not strained/stressed. It felt wonderful. I wasn’t stiff. My muscles were not tired. I walked around feeling lighter. Most important of all, I felt more energetic.

I was surprised to find out that emotionally I was also very stable without regular exercises. I thought I would be in worse mental state. I wasn’t. This made me think if I had been doing this whole exercise routine thingy wrong. Perhaps I shouldn’t wake up early to work out? Perhaps I need to change the type of exercises I do? Perhaps I should reduce the intensity of my workout (I have already reduced it by 50% from my peak)?

I have been wondering about this since the last long break but didn’t do anything about it. I have not evolved my workout schedule. When I recover from COVID, I want to experiment with some changes and see if I could create a lifestyle where I feel more like how I feel now after a week’s long break, where I feel energized, relaxed, but less “fit.”

Another interesting thing about these longer breaks from working out was the journey of getting back into the routine. Last time I tried to resume slowly. I started at 75% of the weight and repetition I was doing prior to the break. I would wait for my muscle to be completely free of pain before I increased the weight and intensity.

In the past, I would not change anything and would go straight back at it after a break. My body would then complain in pain for days, and I would just push through it. I wanted to try something because I wanted to see if I would enjoy the process more. I wonder if I need the mental push more and if I would find the less taxing experience more enjoyable.

Finally, it is hard not to accept that perhaps my current life routines no longer serve me. Daily physical exercises, meditation, and a plant based diet worked, but not anymore. I am not sure why. Perhaps my brain and body have gotten older. I am like a car getting old. It needs different kinds of maintenance. I can’t maintain it the way I did when it was fresh out of the factory. It’s no longer well oiled. It’s gaps and creaks were littered with dirt and rust.

At the same time, I am fearful of changing. What if I stop looking the way I look today? What if I start looking like a middle age man with bear belly and double chin? How will I feel about myself when I don’t feel the muscle pain and tightness? It is scary. I am not confident about how I would feel about myself without those ridiculously strict routines and restrictions. Or maybe what I need to change is my sleep patterns? Can I keep the way I exercise, but instead of working out at 530am, I can work out later in the day?

Another thing I need to confront is my need for vices. Smoking was one of those vices. During the emotionally dark days, smoking was pacifying. I knew this but I chose to stop smoking because of health reasons. Yet I still needed pacifiers. I substituted smoking with eating, which was a terrible alternative. What should I do here? I looked into vaping. It’s not legal in Hong Kong and it’s difficult to find supplies. At the same time, this is clearly an area that I have not been able to find replacements. I tried many “healthier” vices, from meditation to breath work to writing to drawing to video games. None worked. I need to figure this out.

Today the sky is blue and beautiful. I am finding joy and hope in everything. I am at a mental state where all is possible and beautiful. At the same time, I know I have been before, and I know this state is too fleeting. I know this is part of my exploration, that this peaceful state is temporary. So what’s the teaching? What am I hearing? What’s whispering?





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