Walking out of this pandemic like a real champion

Five lessons from sports to gain mental stamina under COVID-19
ROSALIND LIANG/THE VARSITY
ROSALIND LIANG/THE VARSITY

Since the COVID-19 pandemic first forced us into physical distancing, there has been a plethora of information on the internet about how to stay fit and busy under such circumstances. Suddenly, Instagram feeds are filled with more live-streamed workout classes and baking tutorials than ever.

For some, the pressure to be productive at home can be overwhelming, so here are some tips on how to fight the COVID-19 blues.

1. Get your head in the game

Ask any athlete and they will tell you that it takes a single-minded goal to achieve superhuman accomplishments. In this sense, physical distancing is not too different from the world of sports. Be it for health reasons, to deal with grief, or simply because it’s your passion, physical exercise is usually motivated by a larger purpose and goal. 

Feeling frustrated with being stuck at home? Try to remember that you are doing this for the sole purpose of saving lives. Focus is driven by a clear purpose, and it’s easy to forget the significance of our individual actions in the grand scheme of the pandemic.

2. Be a good teammate 

According to an article written by Professor Aisha S. Ahmad of the Department of Political Science, we should make a plan for social connectedness. While maintaining safety guidelines from the public health authorities, identify your crisis team members by reaching out to friends, family, and other people in your community. To Ahmad, “the best way to build a team is to be a good teammate.” 

You can be the real MVP by offering assistance to those in need, fostering good communication, and inspiring your teammates. Check in with your risk-group neighbours, and ask if you can buy groceries for them. Talk to your loved ones about your feelings, and be a good listener by letting them do the same. Encourage your friends to engage in positive thinking whenever you can. 

I know that creating a strong support network reassures me that people are looking out for me in these uncertain times.

3. Celebrate small victories 

Adapting to a life of physical distancing is a similar learning experience to training for a long-distance run. At first, your lungs will feel like they’re going to collapse after the first two miles, but the key to adaptation is to set small goals for yourself that become more difficult over time. Celebrate every mile you can run further until you’re able to fulfill your greater challenges. 

Ahmad’s article also tells us to first focus on more attainable goals when developing a routine. Celebrate small victories like maintaining a regular sleep schedule, cooking a healthy meal, or finding the motivation to read a book. Once you find a comfortable system, it should be easier to dedicate yourself to summer school or other necessary tasks in your life.

4. Learn to lose 

It’s easy to link sports to resilience. In this pandemic, we have lost opportunities and time with the people we care about. It’s hard to cope with these losses if you don’t give yourself time to comprehend them. Instead, it feels like we have to pack our days with activities because of the social and internal pressure to be productive right now. It helps if you remind yourself that it’s okay if you’re not at the top of your game during a global health crisis.

5. Picture the finish line 

Some countries, like Denmark, are already steadily walking out of lockdown. For some of us, there still might be a long way to go. When you’re on a six-mile run, and you realize that you’ve already covered three miles, that’s when you motivate yourself the most to reach the finish line. It’s the switch between a moment of extreme fatigue to a sudden spike of energy that helps you keep going. Use all the optimistic, positive energy you can!

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