How to stay positive  

As the coronavirus continues to affect everyone’s daily routine, it’s now more important than ever that you stay positive and #mentallyfit. You can do this by taking care of both your mental and physical healthHere, we focus on top tips from Team NL’s Performance Manager in Performance Behaviour, Paul Wylleman. These six key points will help keep you on the right path during these challenging times. 

  • First priority is to keep calm and stay well informed  
  • Challenge yourself and your entourage to set new goals and adapt your daily behaviour to your current reality  
  • Stay in regular contact with your friends and family  

With the recent developments surrounding coronavirus, athletes around the globe are rightly concerned about their training regimes, but one aspect that can often be overlooked is the mental side of being isolated for a period of time. At Team NL, number of recommendations have been developed which can make the situation more manageable for athletes. 

  1. Choose trusted communication channels 

The spread of the coronavirus is, of course, a major news story. This can lead to an overwhelming amount of information coming your way. It is important that you have trusted sources that you can check two to three times per day, but make sure not to consume too much information, as this may lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed or even helplessness. 

To find out whether new information matters to you as an athlete, ask yourself: “What does this mean for me and my entourage?” 

Here are some trusted news sources across the Olympic Movement that can help. 

  1. Manage your thoughts  

It is normal to feel a certain amount of confusion and anxiety in this situation. Make sure you stay on top of this by actively controlling your thoughtsYou have to accept that you cannot always be in control of the situation, but that you have the ability to take some specific measures that can deal with your challenges, to keep your daily life as structured as possible. 

Negative thoughts and feelings occur to everyone in times like this, but avoid paying too much attention to them. Try to shift your attention by focusing on a word, thought or behaviour that actively helps you to relax, let go and live your daily life. 

One technique you can use is the 456. Four times a day, you should breathe in for five seconds and then breathe out for six seconds while slowly lowering your shoulders. This will help relieve tension and unrest. 

  1. Adapt to your new surroundings

Make a plan to help adapt to measures such as social distancing, not shaking hands and washing your hands regularly. Visualising how you will behave can help you to keep up your daily activities and deal with the feeling that something is missing, or that you are acting in a rude or unfriendly way. 

Seems simple, but are you doing it? Here’s how to wash your hands properly. 

  1. Keep your eye on the future

All of you will have your training and competition schedules disrupted in some way. Make sure you regularly speak with your coach and entourage about how to manage your daily training, but also coach yourself to maintain supportive thoughts and feelings. Eventually, events and competitions will return, so make sure you stay prepared and ready for that moment. 

Part of this can be done by setting new, concrete goals which fit into your new routine. Establish realistic and achievable goals, which you have discussed with your coach and plan to achieve through daily activities. 

  1. Sharpen your online social game 

While isolating yourself physically may now be a reality for you, one of the most important things you can do during this time is to talk to others remotely, and we are fortunate to live in an era where we can chat to others digitally with ease 

Sharing your thoughts and feelings with others is an important part of being human. It can be a lot harder to do online, but maintaining regular contact with your entourage and other people who are important to you is vital to staying #mentallyfit 

  1. Lean on your network 

This situation can make you feel restless, irritable or even insecure. Sometimes this can also lead to a feeling of lack of control, avoidance behaviour, disturbed sleep, anxiety or even panic.  

You will not always be able to communicate with body language at this time, but make sure that you are able to speak to others. Sharing your problems as well as your daily activities will help you to maintain a stable lifestyle in these times, and contact with a licensed mental health professional will help you to deal with the psychological impact of the situation. 

Be part of the solution by filming your activity and sharing it with fans; this can be therapeutic for you too.   

For specific advice from the World Health Organization on dealing with COVID-19, click here