The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a lot of uncertainty and unrest in the world. People all over the world are grappling with the bitter pill of social distancing and the lockdown. It has been difficult to come to terms with the changes that the virus has imposed in our lives but at the same time we all need to be mentally strong to cope with these novel conditions.
Athletes too have been hit adversely by the current situation. Athletes are generally believed to be strong and able to handle anything that is thrown at them. However, with training being interrupted due to the lockdown, inability to compete because of tournament cancellations and being stuck abroad due to the travel restrictions, they are likely to be mentally affected.
This article presents potential solutions which athletes can use to cope with the current scenario head on-
1)Limit the influx of negative information
The pandemic has been touted as an ‘info ‘demic and the constant barrage of information can be unsettling. Being informed is one thing and being obsessed is another. Keeping a track of the number of covid cases might not be healthy for you and can cause anxiety and stress. Focus on news relevant to you. Know that the situation is being controlled by the concerned authorities who are doing their best and do what is in your control as a citizen by staying home.
2)Stick to your previous dedicated routine
Athletes are slaves to their habits and routines. Although going about with your lives may be difficult with the training grounds being closed or teams not allowed assembling together, try to follow your old routine as much as the situation permits. It may be difficult to not slacken now that you are cooped up at home and have got plenty of time, but remember that this time that you may waste by sleeping late or watching television will never come back. Sticking to your old routine will provide a sense of normalcy and help in reducing stress.
3)Practise good sleep hygiene
Sleep is the cheapest drug that an athlete can utilize for recovery. Sleep calms us down, rejuvenates us and our bodies and helps in tackling the next day with our strength restored. It reboots your body and may even give you better insights into an ongoing problem you may be facing. Getting the right amount of sleep( 8 hours)not less or more, is the way to go to be mentally fit.
4)Continue training and following fitness regimes
Deconditioning equals doom for athletes. Although athletes don’t decondition at the same rate as the general population, there can be marked changes due to stoppage of training in skill specific muscles groups, especially those responsible for endurance. A study noted a reduction of 20 percent in the maximal oxygen uptake values in athletes after stopping training for as short a period as 4 weeks. Exercise is known to release endorphins, which are chemicals that make you feel happy. Athletes should utilize this time by training at home with whatever things they can get their hands on such as bottles, weights, etc. Body weight exercises such as squats, pushups, lunges, etc. can be incorporated or continued without using machines. They can even work out together virtually with their team and have fun while sweating it out. Post your training achievements so that others are inspired too. Focus on recovering from injuries because many a time’s athletes suffer from repetitive stress disorders due to overtraining. Train smartly by watching videos of old games and improving skills, both tactical and physical.
5)Do what makes you happy
Each one of us has a different way of dealing with stress. Some may deal with this by talking to their loved ones, while some may engage themselves by pursuing a new hobby or skill. Some may go into their shell and take time to get to terms with the changes around them. One should do what makes them comfortable. Eat right, stay healthy and feel better. Having said that, do reach out and seek help if necessary. Athletes can avail of tele-sessions from mental health experts who are offering them online. Take each day at a time, stay safe, and stay prepared to bounce back harder, stronger and better!
Poetic Musings of a Physiotherapist
With a lot of love ,care and pride He created Adam and Eve,
How perfect they were, standing beautiful and tall, He just couldn’t believe.
Two gave birth to one, one rose to two and that led to many more,
They spread out over land and sea everywhere in an attempt to explore.
The huge animals saw us and laughed, dismissing us as threats,
But men with their resourceful brains, soon turned them into pets.
He abused the land, poisoned the water and crowned himself as king,
Enough was enough, God thought, He would destroy us with the natural calamities that He would bring.
He rumbled the earth, made huge waves, started fires that would burn us alive,
But humans were so many ,they thought they outsmarted God and continued to proliferate and survive.
Man is a social animal, God thought, what if He used that against him,
Men would not stay at home, he would not stay alone, because he was a slave to his every whim.
What else does man need other than lies and greed, oxygen in each breath,
That was another weakness God decided to use to bring the wretched creatures to their death.
God made a tiny virus, equipped to kill and wipe out the human race,
He wished he had done it earlier, created better beings to take their coveted place.
God thrust a crown on the virus’s head, got them ready for their task to slay,
He reminded it to not repeat the same mistakes as men or there would be a heavy price to pay.
The virus mutated, one rose to two and that led to many more,
It spread through contact, attacked men’s lungs and struck their very core.
It attacked China, Iran and Italy were next, wiping out lakhs in its way,
Men were shivering with fear, not able to contain it, all they could do was pray.
Man thought over his deeds, cried hard, felt guilty for what he had done,
He prayed for God to forgive him, he would change his actions and learn.
Its for us to repent now, take stock of our actions and not leave things to fate,
We should mend our ways and turn over new leaves, before its far too late!! – Mamata Revankar