Mental Health and Resiliency During COVID-19

UWS Sport and Performance Psychology Alumnus, Justin Tausig, EdD, CMPC, LMHC (Class of 2017)

Twitter/Instagram: @drjustintausig

Justin Tausig head shot

With sports being on hold worldwide currently, what are some things athletes can do in the meantime to remain sharp and competitive?

We humans thrive on structure. In the absence of our typical pre-global pandemic routines that imposed an external structure on us, we should impose structure on our own lives. I suggest one hour per day minimum of the following categories:

1. Something that stretches you physically.

2. Something that stretches you mentally.

3. Something that stretches you creatively or artistically.

This will also keep you being productive and give you a reason to get out of bed every day. COVID-19 is not the universe pushing the pause button. This is not the time to maintain. Stay focused on your development and growth.

For those struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation, what are some resources you could offer?

One of the big problems right now is the way this time is perceived. Language is important and by recommending “social distancing” it feels like complete isolation is the notion. It is physical distancing which is important to maintain, but continue being social! Connect and reconnect with people via telephone, texting, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts. Arrange virtual meet-ups for meals, drinks or just a chat. Do NOT cut yourself off from others. It is also a great opportunity to get in contact with old friends or people we’ve lost touch with, to ask how they’re doing and to catch up.

While public gyms are closed, what are some tips/tricks for athletes to remain physically and mentally fit?

Consult your doctor before engaging in any physical fitness routine, but there are many things you can do at home to stay fit. Look online for workouts that work for you, your level of fitness and your environment. Search the app store for something that appeals to you. There are fun and motivating programs available which link to fitness bands, connect with other users, or give points for completing the day’s goals. Set-up online appointments with a workout buddy or set an alarm to remind yourself to do something physical.

What are some mental imagery that athletes could tap into if/when sports return without an audience?

Remember your “why.” The reason or reasons you compete in your sport. Your “why” is going to be unique to you and probably won’t have much to do primarily with spectators. 

Closing thoughts –

This time is singular in anyone’s experience. While many people have suggested hiding in your PJs and just binge-watching stuff on streaming services, I don’t agree with that approach. In addition to structure, we humans also love being productive. So, do ONE thing every day that moves a project forward in your life. The people who will be best off at the end of this global pandemic will be the ones who can find ways to adapt and be productive during it. Be innovative! Above all, be safe!