We all know how important exercise is, however when you’re in hospital caring for a sick child, working out a daily exercise routine is next to impossible. Lizzy Williamson is the amazing brain behind Two Minute Moves and she very kindly took the time to give Cocooned some great ideas on ways to get moving, and why it’s so important.
What is Two Minute Moves and how did it come about?
Two Minute Moves is a way that you can give back to yourself, little action steps you can take which add up to make a big difference. It all came about because when I had a baby and a toddler and I stopped doing anything for myself. I had stopped exercising, I couldn’t leave the house whenever I wanted to and believed that because I didn’t have an hour a day to dedicate to exercise, it couldn’t happen.
I also had postnatal depression at the time. I was feeling was incredibly overwhelmed and stuck. I was experiencing intense emotions I had never experienced before, including anger and suicidal thoughts. I thought everything I was feeling and experiencing was me failing as a mum. I just kept telling myself to get over it, how dare I think that way with all that I had to be grateful for, that it should be enough.
My doctor at the time told me “When you get on a plane, they tell you that you have to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others” and that’s when the realisation hit me. I had been doing everything for everyone else, focussing on all the other people and things in my life because I thought that this is what would make me a “good person” and a “good mother”.
However the oxygen mask analogy made me realise that I had no reserves. You have to have that oxygen mask on first if you care enough about looking after everyone else, because otherwise it’s just not sustainable. It was then I decided that my oxygen mask would be exercise, but this was easier said than done!
How can 2 minutes help?
Exercise for me always had these rules associated with it. If I couldn’t do something that took a certain amount of time, was a certain intensity, somewhere like at a gym with certain equipment, it didn’t count. Well it turns out that I was actually really wrong!
The next day, after making this decision, I put on a TV show for my daughters and I went into my kitchen bench. Even though it was the last thing I felt like doing, I said to myself, I need to get myself moving. I used to be a ballet dancer so I put my hands on my kitchen bench and I thought “this could be my ballet bar”. I started doing a few plies, which are leg bends, then I did a few push-ups. All this only lasted a couple of minutes until my toddler called out to me.
In that moment something happened I will never forget, and it was that feeling of hope. All of the obstacles that were getting in my way, preventing me doing something for me, things like; no time, sleep deprivation, no energy, not being able to leave the house, not having the money. None of those excuses or obstacles were in my way in taking these little moments, moments for me to move my precious body.
This feeling brought me back to that kitchen bench the next day and the next and I started to see all these opportunities where I could get my body moving. Whether I was sitting down on a chair and I could do some cycling with my legs, if I was sitting down a lot, the idea I could just get up and walk on the spot or walk around the house.
Even though these things weren’t my idea of what exercise was ‘supposed to be’, it added up to make a really big difference. It made me feel like I was achieving something and doing something for me. I was feeling stronger and fitter and I had more energy.
This is what I’ve seen my program 2 minute moves do for other people. It does change people’s mindset and the way they approach exercise. It really helps people to break those rules and ideas that we all have around exercise and self care. The idea that even taking a little moment to give back to yourself, can make a difference to your day, your mental and physical health, and therefore make a difference in how you can look after others.
Even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing, two minutes feels achievable, it feels doable. It’s enough to give you that feeling of connection back into your body, checking in with what your body needs.
So how can I exercise when I’m in hospital with my child?
When you’re in hospital, caring for a child, you may be sitting down a lot and not moving, you may be feeling stressed, tired anxious and worried. All of this stress, sadness and worry is being held in your body.
There is something about moving our bodies that helps us move through those emotions. By opening up your chest moving in a stretch, or walking on the spot, blood and oxygen can start working around your body and your brain and this helps to relieve some of that stress. By getting back to yourself, and nurturing yourself, even for a few minutes, you function better and your ability to cope also improves.
2 minute moves in this situation, is all about making exercise and self care something that is actually achievable. When you can’t get to the gym when you can’t even get outside, taking a moment to give you a boost of energy to keep you going and maybe even a hit of endorphins, lowers our stress hormone cortisol.
I would recommend setting a reminder on your phone every hour, a little reminder to get up and move;
- Have a walk on the spot, look up and put your shoulders back
- Lift each knee each knee high as you can while you walk on the spot, try for about 10 to 20 of these
- Try few twists side to side squatting down as if you’re going to sit, then getting back up again
- Roll down to touch your toes let your head drop your jaw go soft and let the weight of the world that is on your shoulders drive down towards the floor then roll back up to standing
There are lots of little ways you can work exercise into your day when you are caring for your child in hospital. You can find ideas for moves on my Instagram or Facebook pages or find me on YouTube for lots of videos. You could also take a look at my book 2 minute moves.
I really encourage you to find even the littlest moments to give back to yourself, make sure you put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.
Again a huge thank you to Lizzy for all of these wonderful ideas for keeping up with exercise while caring for a child in hospital. Let us know in the comments below which of Lizzy’s tips have been working for you!
If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, please reach out to your GP, a family member or friend. If these feeling are more intense or if you’re having suicidal thoughts, get in touch with an organisation such as Lifeline or PANDA in Australia.