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Keeping Yourself Mentally & Physically Healthy During This Global Pandemic

Updated: Sep 13, 2020

We are living in an unprecedented time, as personal freedoms are curtailed for the good of individual and world health through the COVID-19 Pandemic. For athletes who are used to orderly management and goal chasing, being removed from schedules and training environments can lead to them feeling outside of their comfort zones.

Fortunately, there are some simple actions you can take to feel better. Psychologists have long recommended managing stress and anxiety by determining what you can control, thinking positively, and making a plan. Athletes and coaches who are navigating uncertainty and risk over the next few weeks can try the same approach.

Determine What You Can Control

You can’t control what’s going on globally, but you can control your personal flow of information. Facts are evolving rapidly, but action items are scarce, which can contribute to a feeling of helplessness. Instead of checking for news every few minutes, set your phone to receive important local updates that may affect you and your family—and then put it down. Set aside a time to catch up on all the news just one or two times a day, and focus on other things in between. There's nothing worse then a in facts!

What should you focus on instead? Anxiety can lead to distraction, so keep your mind fresh and focused with a list of goals (like chores, work items, etc.) for each day. When you feel concentration and well-being start to slip, you can re-focus on checking things off your list. If you are home with family members, also make sure you carve time for yourself and each member of the household. For the athlete, this time might be an indoor ride, a run or a yoga session.

Think Positively

These are highly unusual times. No one has direct experience or answers for solving the current crisis, but everyone with knowledge and skill is working towards a solution. Remember, how you approach the ambiguity of postponed event dates and derailed training schedules (or just the disruption to daily life) is up to you!!

There is a silver lining to forced change; for athletes this may mean more time to rest or train, or even a required move from habitual behaviors and patterns that weren’t always beneficial. Creative solutions often rise from adversity: recognise that you are strong, resilient and resourceful and attack the day!

Make a plan

This week, I’ve heard from athletes and coaches in a range of unique situations, including loss of all access to the outdoors and recreational facilities. If you have a compromised immune system or just aren’t feeling it, by all means, permit yourself to take a break and avoid introducing more stress to your system. This is a stressful time already, we don't want to add more to it but keep in mind that staying fit can improve physical and mental health. Even without an imminent race goal, having a plan and keeping on it is good for you.

If you decide to keep training, a good dose of creativity and flexibility can save the day. If you struggle making a plan, have a conversation with a friend, fellow athlete or a coach to help you with this.

Things to do following reading this

1. I recommend using technology to reach out and connect with others, try virtual workouts such as Zwift for example? You can choose between group training sessions, races or create your own sessions and have people you know join you. This helps keep the motivation high training with other and for those who are competitive in nature!

2. Having a plan that accommodates your new environment can help ease apprehension. If this is something you struggle with then seek advice.

3. Clearly Swimming is an issue for most people right now, with facilities and beaches closed. But dry land training can maintain the swim strength that you have gained. There are lots of great resources being put together on youtube currently from the likes of GTN, Lucy Charles Barclay for example on a regular basis to help.

4. Remember, control the controllable! We can't control these current events, but we can control how to choose to cope with it

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and keep in touch with loved ones!

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