The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has created a global crisis and has impacted people and businesses in every corner of the globe, and athletes have suffered greatly. NCAA sports, professional sports, and youth/adult leagues and tournaments have been have been cancelled or postponed worldwide. As a result of having to spend time away from their sport and teammates many athletes are experiencing anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other negative emotions during this challenging time. Here are some tips and resources to help you best handle this challenging time.
· Make sure to exercise and keep your body fit: Just because your team/sport is suspended right now or your gym is closed, you can still take care of your body and stay physically fit during this time! Many gyms and personal trainers have released new free or discounted at-home workouts that can be completed from the comfort, convenience, and safety of your own home.
· Go for a walk outside: The fresh air, sunlight and Vitamin D will contribute to your mental and physical health and wellbeing. Plus, you may even see some neighbors or friends that you can talk to (from a distance!).
· Utilize YouTube for skill instruction: YouTube is filled with coaches who have shared their tips and advice for specific technical suggestions that can be practiced in the convenience of your bedroom. View this as an opportunity to hone and improve your technique in the sport(s) that you compete in.
· Social connection: Remain connected to family members, teammates, and friends through phone/video calls. People are spending significantly more time at home, so to decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness utilize phone calls, video chats, and group calls. Keep in mind that other people are experiencing similar emotions and feelings right now, and it can be emotionally helpful to discuss shared experiences.
· Learn a new skill: One of the best ways to bond with loved ones and grow together is to learn a new skill together. Learning something new establishes new neural connections and can lead to shared positive experiences with family and friends. Here are 50 skills that can be learned on YouTube.
· Read: If you want to engage in something intellectual, give your family or friends a one-book challenge. Ask each member to pick a book and share the learnings with everybody. This will help you understand each other and grow together.
· Relax tense muscles: Try to actively relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulder, head and neck. These are the muscles that become tense when we are experiencing a threat. By relaxing these muscles, you are giving your body a signal that you are safe and okay.
· Handle your added stress: Most of us are feeling added stress and tension in our lives, these emotions are absolutely normal and warranted responses to the threats we hear on the news and social media. Just as a reminder: it is okay to feel and experience stress. There are healthy ways of dealing with stress and other uncomfortable emotions.
· Slow down: Allow your body to rest, eat healthy food and learn how to slow down. Try to relax and let go of the need to accomplish too many tasks. More is not always better, for your brain and for your life.
· Meditate: Taking part in deep-breathing and meditation practices can help lead to decreased stress, feelings of control, and greater self-awareness of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Headspace, Calm, and Waking Up are three highly recommended guided meditation apps that make the process of meditation a bit easier.
· Get your information from reliable sources: This can be a difficult time to differentiate between helpful legitimate information from false gossip/clickbait. If you are looking for additional information please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) for additional information and resources.
· Wash your hands: Wash your hands with warm soapy water and use hand sanitizer as much as possible! Set up routines and reminders. Wash them whenever you enter or exit a building, enter or exit a meeting, shake hands with people, eat food, cough/sneeze, etc.
· Don't make big decisions: Refrain from making any big decisions if possible. When we are stressed out, we want to take action and solve the problems impulsively. Use the HATS acronym to avoid action: whenever Hurt, Angry, Tired or Stressed, don’t make a major decision!
· Gratitude: Practice gratitude and take note of all of the things in your life that you are grateful and thankful for. Writing down three things that you are thankful for each day in a journal is an excellent way to practice gratitude and remind yourself that you have much to be appreciative of and grateful for, even during tough times.
· Happiness Hacks: If you feel lonely or negative during these times, try some “Happiness Hacks” from Gagandeep Singh, Tiebreaker Psych’s Sport Psychology Intern, to help lighten up your day. Here is a video on some easy tips and tricks that can be used in your daily life to feel happier.
· Sport Psychology Coaching: For athletes, this is the perfect time to practice your mental skills. Psychological skills like mindfulness, visualization and self-awareness are best perfected in silence, and this is a great opportunity to gain an extra edge over your competitors. To learn more about Sport Psychology Coaching please visit Tiebreaker Psych LLC and book a free one-on-one 60-minute online Zoom Sport Psychology Coaching session.
Please show empathy, kindness and compassion towards everybody during this difficult time and keep in mind that other people are also going through a tough time. Remember that we are all in this together!
Wishing you safety, health, and strength during this challenging time. This too shall pass.