The Importance of Athlete Wellbeing and Mental Health

Last Updated: Monday, 20 April 2020 07:46

The Importance of Athlete Wellbeing and Mental Health
by Marcus Jarwin Manalo

The world is facing a pandemic which means a big portion of the population is affected. Our daily routines inevitably changed and it feels like a new world for everyone. There are obvious impacts in the entire sports community since training facilities are closed, tournaments are cancelled, and there are no live sports events to watch at home. Instead, what we have is influx of information about the coronavirus. What goes along with these is a lot of uncertainty which can lead to stress, anxiety, disappointments, and other potential concerns related to our physical and mental health.

Here are some tips for athletes during this COVID-19 Enhanced Community Quarantine:

1. It's important to recognize our thoughts and emotions during this period. It is normal to feel different emotions with the constant influx of information, the increasing number of confirmed cases, changes to daily routines, and uncertainty related to personal health, fitness level, skillfulness, the health of loved ones, the welfare of the frontliners, the impacts on the economy, etc. Recognize what you’re feeling and try to understand and accept them. Also anticipate that your emotions will likely change over time as the pandemic evolves. Recognize also that everyone is affected. You are not alone in this.

2. Maintain virtual communication. Humans are hard-wired to connect so it is also helpful if you still communicate with your friends, teammates, classmates, coaches, etc.

3. While it is important to be updated, please know that it is also helpful to take a break and disconnect from the overwhelming information and negativity from social media. If you'll be in social media, try to find opportunities to help others in need and to amplify stories of hope and other positive stories related to COVID-19. These will help us to focus more on the positive emotions.

4. Find a way to still get better. Some athletes will just sit down, hope for the best, and do nothing all day while some will focus on the positives, continue to work, and take advantage of this lockdown. Everyone is on the same boat. The ones who will be left out during this period are those who will not find a way to be productive. There are workouts that can be done (you may consult your coaches or look for sources online), books to read, videos to learn from, among other things.

5. Establish a daily routine. This is extremely important because in this period of uncertainty, routines also help us establish feelings of control and comfort while supporting our health and well-being. Decide on how to start and end your day as well as things that you want to prioritize daily or weekly. For example, you can start the day with prayer then meditation (i.e., mindfulness meditation if you have resources on it). Then have some time for journaling/reflection to set goals for the day/week and to help you be more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Make sure you have exercise in your routine because it helps manage stress, improve your immune system, and maintain positive mental health. There are home workouts that we can do and there are several online sources for that. You may also read books (10 pages or one chapter at a time is okay) and engage in personal hobbies. If you don't establish a routine, you'll end up spending too much time on social media and not accomplish anything.

6. Control the "controllables". Regardless of what happens, recognize that the only thing you have control over is you, more specifically your attitude, your effort, and your actions. Again, we are all facing a lot of uncertainty right now, so it’s even more important to have awareness of what is going on around us and focus on the things we can control.

7. Reach out for help if needed. If you are really struggling and overwhelmed with this situation, talk to your parents and look for professionals who may be of help to you.

Fear and uncertainty are often the first steps on the road towards personal growth.

- Dee Waldeck



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