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  • Embrace Performance

Challenges and Changes: Guidance for Athletes Managing Coronavirus Disruption

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

The uncertainty and concern surrounding the outbreak of Covid-19 has led to the disruption of training schedules and organised competitions for many athletes. It’s a difficult and stressful time so we’ve put together six tips to help athletes maintain their health and wellbeing in the current circumstances...

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

Allow yourself to feel

You might be experiencing a range of emotions (i.e. anger, sadness, disappointment, relief) and that’s ok. There’s no right way to feel right now. Be patient and allow yourself time to have and process these feelings. Find practical ways of releasing anxiety. For example, try writing down how you’re feeling in a journal or notebook. It sounds simple but getting it down on paper often helps you to put it to one side and let it go. Remember that everyone is different and may manage these feeling in different ways. Be kind to yourself and others.

Control what you can control

There’s lots going on at the moment and unfortunately, we don’t have much of a say in it. No matter how much we worry, there are some things we simply have no control over. We can’t impact the restrictions placed on us or how long this will last, so it’s really important to focus on “controlling the controllables” to help us feel less worried or anxious. Here are some things you can control: your routine, when and where you get information, taking care of your health, helping others (i.e. donating to a foodbank, supporting vulnerable people in your community).

Stay connected to your support network

Although social distancing advice discourages us from meeting in person, and it can be easy to want to isolate ourselves (especially if we’re concerned about the virus), it is really important to maintain human interaction. Send emails or texts, meet for coffee over facetime or skype or watch a film together on Netflix Party. Reach out to your support network, whether that’s friends, family, teammates or a coach. Having the space to talk with someone trusted is so powerful for our wellbeing during times of abrupt change. Mental health and sport psychology professionals are trained to help support athletes, so do reach out if you would like to talk.

Set boundaries

If the 24-hour rolling coronavirus updates on the news is getting a bit overwhelming, limit your intake. You can still keep track of developments by checking in once or twice a day to get the latest updates. Also consider where you’re getting your information from. Focus on the facts and stick to respected, health-first websites (like the NHS or the WHO) and trusted news outlets (rather than social media) for instructions and guidance.

Adjust your goals

Try not to beat yourself up if coronavirus is going to get in the way of reaching some of your sporting goals. Reflect on whether they need to be adjusted in light of the current situation.

Try setting yourself new goals for the day or week to help keep you focused and motivated, even whilst in isolation. You might not be able to physically train or compete, but you can use this time to develop as an athlete in other ways such developing your mental skills of imagery or studying your sport. Try not to plan too far into the future as we don’t know how long these restrictive measures will last and that can be stressful. Keep yourself in the present as much as possible.

Develop a new rhythm and routine

A lot of us will be spending more time at home and some of our regular activities may no longer be available. Establish an adapted routine and build structure into your day. Don’t forget the basics of sleep, nutrition and exercise as the building blocks of keeping well, both physically and mentally. Utilise the extra down time to engage in other activities that give you joy, maybe it’s baking, or reading, or something creative – whatever you enjoy. Investing in your personal or educational development can also be a great use of time. But do make sure to give yourself a break too. No one is expecting you to master a thousand new things.

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