There are many stressors that athletes need to navigate throughout their careers such as: academics, practice, extracurriculars, time management, injuries, and competition. For this year’s athletes, added to the list is a pandemic. From the uncertainty of their individual sport to competitions being postponed or cancelled because of outbreaks, athletes are learning lessons of adaptability at all levels.
I am in my senior year of college as a D1 Track and Cross Country athlete and I’ve witnessed first hand the challenges each athlete and sport is facing and the ways athletes are taking advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. This blog post will outline 4 opportunities available to athletes to help them stay positive and supportive of their teammates and communities through the uncertainty of the pandemic.
1. Check on your teammates in isolation
Many people feel guilty and anxious after testing positive for COVID-19. People are afraid of spreading the illness to others and blame themselves for a situation that they do not have a lot of control over. Experts say those who have COVID-19 can ease their feelings of "guilt and anxiety by talking to others" (healthline).
One way athletes can provide support to teammates in isolation is through sending encouraging words over text or setting up phone calls. Here are some ideas of encouraging text messages:
A simple message letting a teammate know they're in your thoughts and have your support can go a long way.
2. Focus on what you can control
Many people find comfort in plans and schedules that help them know what to expect out of the day/week/year. During a time where so much is out of athletes' control, coming up with a routine can help create a sense of normalcy.
Routines can create a positive level of stress that keeps us focused and may avoid some of the depression that many people may experience as a result of the COVID pandemic, isolation, fear and uncertainty" Ramon Solhkhah, psychiatrist.
Here are some examples of routines you can adopt:
Routines have always been a great way to create structure. Now, during a time where so much is out of our control creating simple routines can set priorities, structure, and a sense of normalcy in our lives.
3. Continue to set goals
Goal setting is important for athletes to continually push outside of their comfort zone. Although competition is uncertain for many, there are still areas of life that athletes can set goals in.
Here is a list of the areas along with examples of goals athletes can set:
Working towards goals helps keep athletes focused and motivated. Start setting your goals and be sure to write them down. Another helpful tip is to put them in a place where you will see them every day as a reminder (I put mine next to my mirror).
4. Give back to your local community
Communities support athletes in many ways from attending competitions to fundraising for programs. Many community members keep up with the latest news of their local teams and look up to/support teams and individual athletes. It is always important to give back to the communities but the ways athletes are able to do so might look different this year.
Here's a list of ways athletes can give back to their communities during the pandemic:
There are many other ways to give back to the community aside from this list. Collaborate with your teammates and athletic staff on how your team can safely give back to your local communities!
During a time where so much is out of athletes control, focusing on the things athletes can do instead of what they can't is a great way to remain positive and motivated. So be sure to check in on your teammates in quarantine or isolation, create routines, set goals and give back to your community!