Athletes’ Mental Health will be put to the test during the COVID-19 Pandemic and why it will be key to address positive mental health initiatives everyday.

Manitoba Athletes we are in this together to help one another

All athletes in the Manitoba sports community are feeling the impact of COVID-19. From playing team sports or individual sports the impact on one’s mental health will be demanding. Due to the implementation of social distancing – tournaments, events and competitive seasons at all sport levels have been cancelled, training facilities, parks and community centres are also closed. For an athlete this challenging circumstance is brand new with many unknowns on how to proceed forward in the sports they love and want to play.

The article will cover the positive aspects athletes can focus on with regards to their mental health and mental training. Having an athlete self aware about their mental health and take a provocative approach to mental training will be essential during this difficult time. The time athletes can use away from sport is a tremendous opportunity to focus on mental health and mental performance training because it is often forgotten as a key to overall success in sport and life. While focusing on family and safety is the most important during this time, keeping up with fitness, nutrition and proper sleep to stay fit is key. Athletes can also work to strengthen your mental muscle and come back to sport better prepared to succeed during this time away from sport participation.

Fortunately, we live where digital communication is accessible and commonly used via text, video and social media. It is essential that athletes remain in communication with peers, coaches and support teams to stay engaged in the community of the sport – which will provide credible and necessary engagement. During the time away from sport athletes’ daily routines/habits (i.e., making the bed, doing laundry, washing the dishes, doing yard work etc) will be essential to establish a positive daily routine which promotes accountability, accomplishment and self worth. Athletes thrive having control over a routine and how athletes start and end their days, as well as, prioritize their day will be key to progress forward. Holding yourself accountable such as making the bed in the morning provides an opportunity for accountability that proceeds throughout the day when tackling chores around the house or aspects related to the athlete’s sport. These small wins of accountability positively translate to when an athlete needs the drive, motivation and determination to work on fitness training at home, tackle school work, and reflect on WHY they play. You are now a part of the team “home.” A positive home environment will be important to maintaining structure and balance, which is key for those mental muscles. Solidifying morning, daily and evening routines, getting enough sleep, and deliberately incorporating other acts of self-care, for example, breathing and stretching, journaling goals you want to accomplish, research parts of your sport you want to learn, study your favourite athletes – what makes them great, engaging in personal hobbies, and following other passions into our lives helps to re-establish feelings of control and comfort while supporting our mental health and well-being.