We are all in uncharted waters. We have never been here before and no one knows what is next.
A sailboat is off course 99% of the time! In the open ocean, sailboats are in a constant state of flux. They find the destination by making adjustments. Tacking is how they do it, the series of zigzagging maneuvers that captains perform to use the wind and stay on course.
We are all off course right now. We need to adjust.
Mental Toughness is how we deal, handle, and cope with the adversity in life. It is not easy, but it is necessary. We are all being hit with major struggles and setbacks! How you respond to the coronavirus crises will make a big impact on your mental state and performance moving forward. Puke & Rally: It’s not about the Setback, It’s about the Comeback.
Here are 4 ways to help your athlete cope with the coronavirus crisis
|1. You’ll Probably Get Depressed.|
|2. Be An Athlete.|
|3. Routine, Routine, Routine…|
|4. Focus on Others.|
1. You’ll Probably Get Depressed-
The way athletes cope with life is through their sport. If sport is okay and we are performing well, then life more easily works itself out. It is when we have severe on-the-field OR off-the-field issues that cause our stress levels and anxiety to spike.
You’ll need to treat this crisis as a major loss and/or death because the emotions experienced will be similar.
Because once we remove our primary coping skill of sport, then we are now forced to deal in other ways and we often lack those other coping skills. This is the same reason why injured athletes experience depression.
Just know that you’ll probably experience sadness, mood swings, or don’t feel like doing anything! It’s okay and it’s normal. The key here is to feel that emotion and just know it too will pass and that there is nothing wrong with you.
Allow yourself some time and grieve space every day to deal with it. This is how to cope with the coronavirus crisis. The worse thing is to simply ignore the emotions you’ll feel because then they will pop up when we least want them to.
2. Be An Athlete-
We all have to approach the current state with a continued mindset of an athlete. Just because the sport has been taken away, does not mean your identity is gone! This crisis and outbreak is just another difficult opponent. As an athlete, we have learned mental skills along our path that will help us handle this issue. It means adopting the same mentality as a competitor. Just know that we are still competing against the most difficult opponent, which is our own mind.
Our mind wants to focus on how messed up things are and how much is out of our control.
No doubt about it, right now, it sucks and there is a ton out of our control!
So, are we going to stay at the pity party where no one else shows up, or get focused on what is in our control?
3. Routine, Routine, Routine…
We are creatures of habit and we crave structure and discipline. The only bad routine is not having one!
It is during these times of undue stress, that we have to master the simple things. Our own mind will try and sabotage ourselves. It will want to blame others, convince us that this is permanent, and keep us in a hole of destructive and unproductive thoughts. Our mind will continue to run wild unless we take those thoughts captive and maintain a routine.
Maintain consistent sleep and wake schedules. Stay focused on exercising and keeping that outlet alive. Eat well and stay hydrated…All of the simple things that we’ve been told over and over again becomes even more important now! Master The Simple!
It is not the time to indulge in all-week NetFlix binges, or gorge out. It’s fine to chill, destress and decompress every day, but keep a healthy routine in your life.
4. Connect With Others!
The reason why the book NO ONE Gets There ALONE was so important is that it echoed “if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, then go together.”
We need others.
We need the connection.
However, the coronavirus crisis and the powers that be are forcing us to isolate. Isolation is destructive. Nothing except mushrooms grow in the dark, and who likes those?
When we are stuck inside of our own head, we are behind enemy lines!
Only through our connection with others can we get better. The ways to help your athlete cope is to focus on others.
We can’t help out anyone else in life without also helping out ourselves. We can’t coach ourselves very well. But, if I am able to focus on helping someone else out, someone less fortunate, or even connecting with a friend, then I am no longer dwelling on my own problems and circumstance. If I can focus on others, then the person I am really coaching up is myself!
The most selfish thing that you can do is to help out someone else.
Here are some additional experts’ ways to help your athlete cope with the coronavirus crisis.
Reach out and talk to someone. Tell them that you do not want them to solve your problem or make you feel better, just listen to you. A common blindspot of many athletes its that they have used their grit to work through other problems so they should be able to work through this one. This one is tough. Encourage them to find a secure base and talk out their feelings.
Adapt on the fly. Adaptability not only helps you win in your sport but also helps you overcome the biggest obstacles in life. This is that moment. An obstacle. Feel what you feel then apply your skill of being adaptable to figure out how you will overcome this obstacle.
Mark Lombardo, Psy.D.
Find a way to improve a part of your game during the time away. Through individual physical training and also through watching videos and/or reading to challenge yourself to come back better is some way than you were before this unfortunate circumstance arose.
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books. Please check out the mental toughness podcast – 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.