Sport gives us so many things; identity, routine, excitement, challenge, escape, a social and supportive network, a sense of belonging and experience of community to name a few. Sport is a calendar that creates structure in our daily lives and experiencing loss as a result of the situation we find ourselves in due to Covid-19 is inevitable.
The impact on our sporting lives is and looks likely to continue to be enormous. There are many pieces of advice, offers of support and words of wisdom on the internet, yet a sporting journey is a very personal one. As athletes cope with their own losses I find myself sad that my swimming training (which had been going really well) is now disrupted. Currently, I am yo-yo-ing between sadness and action. Sadness at the loss of what might have been, and I don’t feel good. Action however is making me feel better. Action is helping me, and I am doing this by focusing on two things: flexibility and optimism.
Flexibility is a healthy psychological response to adversity, yet it can be hard to do. In sport, psychologists work with athletes to focus on ‘controllables’ and minimise the ‘uncontrollables’. At the moment, our world is full of ‘uncontrollables’ but we have a great opportunity to practice thinking more flexibly, being creative with our work outs and training plans and seeing things from a different perspective. Taking a course of action to research and adapt my plans has make me feel more optimistic about what I can do and what I can achieve.
Optimists are good at looking at situations and asking, ‘what can be gained from this situation?’ Naturally, we are not all optimists, but how about being curious and aiming to shift into this mindset? Seek out people who are more optimistic than you – explore together what might be possible. Optimists are great at fuelling the fire at the start of a new project. This new project might be sport related but might also be something else; a forgotten area in your performance. A conversation with a swimming buddy yesterday certainly fuelled mine.
We will get through Covid-19 and when sporting events make a comeback, it will be a sign of return, a sign that we are back on track and a big celebration for all.