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Following the announcement of lockdown 2.0, the timing has never been better to gather some tips and advice from various professionals on how best to get through isolation.
Facing the initial lockdown was no easy feat, though we did it. As humans, we often have to look adversity in the eye, and more often than not we come out unscathed, having learnt vital life lessons while bettering ourselves. As sportspeople, routine is essential: it helps us to find a much-needed balance in our busy schedules. I’ve mentioned the importance of balance and routine previously, maintaining this is so important, to me at least. This could be something as simple as waking up at the same time every day or having a set meal or training time, or, if you are as bizarre as me, having a freezing cold shower to start the day. Once a routine is taken away from us, it gets a little bit trickier. Lockdown 1.0 was challenging, however. During that time we learnt a lot about what makes us tick and most importantly, what doesn’t. Finding what works for us during a time of isolation is vital, by trial and error or simply knowing what works for you. Making the most of this latest inconvenient but essential lockdown puts a positive spin on things, which is always good for us athletes – mindset is everything remember! So there is no better time than now to try out new things, maybe trying something you didn’t have time to do before that could potentially make the world of difference to you as a person. This is a time where you can start that project you have always wanted to start, learn that new language or perhaps get better at cooking (if you still have your tastebuds!). No one will judge you, or even have to know what you are getting up to; it’s literally the perfect time for self-development, because it’s just you (oh and possibly your house-mates!)
Throughout this article, a range of professionals share their own advice on how to best cope with the lockdown with theathleteplace. For some of you, these might be part of your daily routine already, which is fantastic. On the other hand, others might be able to learn new tricks to not only benefit their time in lockdown but their day-to-day lives outside of isolation.
It is no surprise that mental illness has been on the rise since the arrival of COVID-19. Mental illness can impact everyone, it doesn’t care who you are, if you’ve run 9.9s or scored 1000 points in your rugby career. This is why it is so important for people to take it seriously, and their own health seriously – physically and mentally – so take note. With the likes of Lebron James famously using mindfulness and meditation for performance and wellbeing benefits, it is definitely something to consider trying. But remember, it is perfectly normal to have ups and downs, we can’t be positive all the time, it’s all part of what makes us human.
To minimise the risk of social isolation, it is important to maintain contact with family and friends. Where possible, spend time in company with them.
It can be very tempting, particularly for those individuals who have been prevented from leaving their homes, to stay in bed in the morning, and go to sleep much later than usual. Try to avoid this. Try to stick to as normal a sleep routine as possible (an afternoon nap should suffice).
Relaxation and mindfulness can be very useful techniques when maintaining your mental health. There are a huge number of resources online, and free trials are available on apps such as Headspace. If you’ve never tried relaxation or mindfulness, this can be a really good opportunity to give it a go! It’s also incredibly effective in helping manage difficulties such as anxiety, and depression.
If you are worried about your mental health or that of someone you know, speak with family or friends or the staff at your club or sporting organisation. It’s always recommended to seek expert advice from your GP”.Willow Grove Mental Health Consulting
What comes with lockdown and isolation? Unfortunately, lots of sitting around. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. You may be limited to the environment in which you can move and how you move, but you can move – and you must move. You will feel better for it!
We know it’s going to be difficult, but we are resilient and have already proved that. Movement, deep breaths and talking are key in maintaining physical and mental wellbeing.
Out of darkness cometh light.
Stretch the body outwards as much as possible. The body automatically tenses inwards when stressed.
Flexibility and rhythm are key to unlocking your potential”.Alex Nwenwu, Therapy on Performance
For more tips on keeping your body in TOP condition during lockdown head over to @therapyonperformance to see more from Mobility Mike.
From a Coach’s Perspective
COVID-19 has been a nightmare for everyone, our routines have gone totally out the window. It has been hard being an athlete during these challenging times, but imagine being a coach? All that planning they have done is now potentially scrapped, or has to be adapted and changed to suit new circumstances. So, what advice do some of our country’s best coaches recommend?
I am no expert, but humans are problem solvers. To solve a problem you must first identify and dig apart that problem. Look at lockdown. It is 28 days, 4 weeks of inconvenience. You need to work out what is potentially inconvenient and work around it. Maybe no gym or indoor facilities, how will the throwers survive?! You need to be innovative, 4 weeks is not that bad.
I wake up at 6.30-7 am every morning, my body is pre-conditioned to do so, our bodies are weird. But I’m not going to suddenly change that, I will still do as much I normally do as possible. I am not going to be changing any of my routines unless I have to. If I normally train or coach at 9 am, I will train or coach at 9 am – if it is running on a hill or in a park instead or an indoor track, or doing circuits in your living room then so be it. Do what you can do. As a coach, I am going to be planning and adapting to what we can do and I am going to keep my fricking routine.
As athletes, we move forward to create gain, pinpoint something to work on and make physiological gains in the next 28 days. Jess (Ennis-Hill) broke her foot in 2008, we worked on her weaknesses and she went on to have an incredible 8 years, she didn’t just sit there being a vegetable. We make gains in adversity. Find something that is a weakness, learn it, change it, train it.
Coaches like myself need to step up now, put a plan together and think “what are we going to get better at”. Things can happen to you, or for you, it’s your choice. Just think, it is **** but how am I going to deal with it? We are all in the same boat, you aren’t missing out on anything, we all are, together. Just remember that our energy systems are the same energy systems, they don’t know we are in lockdown, you can still work hard. Now is the time to improve, the only place a dream lives is within you, better that internal dream. Where can you take advantage of this period of lockdown. It is you who is leading the process”.Tony Minichiello, Coach & Commentator
At the end of the day, athletes are humans. I have said this time and time again and I will continue to do so. With regards to COVID-19, the advice given by athletes across the world will be different depending on sport, situation and the individual. I spoke to Leicester Tigers Prop Osman Dimen to hear what he recommends in the coming weeks:
Tip one, don’t isolate yourself. Stay in contact with your friends and loved ones as best you can. It might get lonely, it will be a massive help to both you and them to keep communications open.
My second tip would be to try your hardest to set realistic goals for the day. if you have a lot that needs doing, maybe start by aiming to get a handful of things done, regardless of the task at hand you will get a real buzz out of doing something to a good standard. This is relatable to everyone, in work, sport, or everyday life.
Lastly, I really encourage people to get out of the house if they can. Go for a walk, sit in your garden if you can. If you are lucky enough to still be allowed to train as normal then that is great, you can keep some form of routine there. If not, that is still just fine, there are plenty of ways you can train. You don’t need world-class facilities to be able to improve. Go for a run and focus on your cardio, forget about all the fancy training for now. Your skills will be just fine, they won’t go away, focus on other things that need more work and you will see benefits in no time.
We as athletes are lucky, we can train in so many ways. Athletes and sports will be alright, we showed last time that even during a lockdown we can improve, we can stay healthy and get through this together”Osman Dimen, Leicester Tigers
So, there you have it, some tips from top professionals in their given field. I hope you can take these and implement them into your day-to-day life throughout this lockdown. If you feel like some of these are helpful, or you have some that you would like to share to benefit others then get in touch! Now is a time we must be there for one another. We will be just fine.