COPING WITH CORONA - SIMPLE TIPS FOR ATHLETES AND OTHERS SIDELINED BY SURPRISE
The whole world is experiencing a sudden cancellation of events and that is going to effect everyone differently.For athletes or performers in particular, who have been preparing potentially their whole lives for this cancelled event, how you cope and move forward from this could shape the rest of your career or be a defining moment in your life.Now that you have some extra time at home, or wherever you may be practicing social distancing, it is a great time to reflect on your season and plan a path forward once we begin to return to our pre-corona schedules.
Corona doesn't take away accomplishments of the season:
First and foremost I want to acknowledge that just because your event was cancelled it does not negate all of the hard work and effort you have exerted to get to this point in your career.Applaud yourself for putting in all of those hours and feel whatever you are feeling towards the cancellation, and try your hardest to not let one of those feelings be regret.You have nothing to regret, this pandemic is the epitome of “out of your control” and the entire world shares in that frustration for you and themselves.
While you are looking back on your season (or towards a season that hasn't started yet) recall all of the moments you were proud of your performance, team or individual, in order to increase your self-efficacy.What this means is by looking back on your performance accomplishments you can trigger your belief in your ability to do those things again, despite this weird time off.Additionally, watching video of performances or just replaying these experiences in your mind will activate mirror neurons, or parts of your brain that are at work when you play your sport, or engage in your performance, despite the fact you are sitting on the couch.Assuming you have a next season to look forward to, this is good preparation to motivate you towards that.If you don't have a next season, I'm sorry for your lack of closure, and looking back on the season in this way should help you focus on the positive.
You are more than your athletic identity:
If you have another season or not, it is important to use this time to realize you are more than your athletic/performance identity.When you tell someone about yourself, and the first descriptor after your name is the sport you play or the activity you participate in (ie. Hi, I'm John and I'm a basketball player) this time is likely to be especially hard for you.We want to use this time to realize that you are more than just your sport or performance, so take some time to think of things that make you who you are outside of your sport.
Notice how you cope:
Another step in this self-reflection during self-quarantine should be noticing how you cope.What this means is starting to figure out what your gut reactions are in the face of frustration.Notice the emotion (anger, sadness, confusion) and then notice how you react to that emotion (lash out, cry, sit on the couch and do nothing).By figuring out how you cope in this extreme scenario, it can help you prepare better for your performance environment in the future. Once we know how you cope we can begin to work from that and create and action plan for when this happens in your sporting/performance environment, or life moving forward.
Reset and Refocus:
In general all of these steps are done best in some sort of journal or written form, so you have them to reflect on in the future.In your journaling also take some time to reset your goals and use this prompt: “With this time off I will….”Whether it is learning a new skill, learning to meditate, increasing your reps of push-ups, there are so many things you can do with this gift of time to yourself.Make sure you use this time to stay focused on what you have rather than what has been taken away and figure out where you want to be post-quarantine.
In closing, though COVID-19 has proved to be a waiting game as many governmental agencies, health officials, and other decision makers try to figure out next steps, you don't have to wait to get better.Use this time to yourself and your close others, to engage in some coping, reflection, and deliberately consider how you want to continue to effectively move forward…together.