Maintaining a Positive Mindset through COVID-19

Maintaining a Positive Mindset through COVID-19

With so much uncertainty about the future, it’s easy to fall into a negative spiral. Here are some ways athletes can cope.

The current COVID-19 situation restricts everyday life for many athletes, with widespread and unforeseeable consequences—which creates fear and uncertainty in all of us. Add to that the fact that long-awaited spring competitions have been canceled, and many athletes are dealing with an emptiness that can lead to a lack of motivation. However, this does not have to mean that your general motivation comes to a complete standstill!

In the current situation, it is essential for athletes to employ a healthy amount of self-reflection. Becoming aware of your inner emotional state and thoughts can help you to recognize irrational mental patterns. In order to support self-reflection, it is advisable to write down the individual emotional state and thoughts— once identified and analyzed, you can form a strong strategy for dealing with any fears.

It is also crucial to maintain a specific order and structure in your everyday life—or if necessary to create new routines. For example, it is important to wake up at regular times and to eat a healthy diet. If you are working from home, dress accordingly as if you were going into the office. Maintain a certain level of professionalism, and you’ll be more prepared to work. (Working in sweatpants and a feel-good shirt ought to be avoided!)

Athletes may also find that they have time for things that may have been neglected recently. Dedicate yourself to household projects, spring cleaning, or mentally demanding activities. Now is the time to be creative with the design of your everyday life, and maintain a certain level of structure and routine. This will give you a feeling of support and security.

One of the biggest challenges of quarantine is social isolation. Humans are social beings who are dependent on personal interaction. Now more than ever, it is vitally important to stay in touch with family members and friends. Use telecommunication technologies to communicate with family who doesn’t live with you, and take the opportunity to talk through your feelings and experiences around the pandemic. 

While social distancing is important, in many places you can respect local regulations while still getting outside. We are in the transition from winter to spring, a time that many of us thoroughly enjoy. If possible, go out into nature as often as possible, soak up the sun, and enjoy the spring-feelings. Send a smile to your fellow human beings; this is good for your own well-being (as well as theirs!) and strengthens a sense of community.

Concerning your training, you can consider yourself privileged: the advancement of technology has made it easier to train indoors than ever before. Smart trainers, virtual platforms, videos, media services, etc. make group rides and hard workouts possible, all without leaving your home or coming in contact with your friends and riding partners. 

Ask your coach for some creativity with the design of your training plan. Now is a great time for variation in workouts, segments, and online competitions, which can create new motivation while helping you maintain basic fitness levels. This should be in the foreground and should be the primary long-term goal right now. 

When the race calendar is re-established, you can go back to the preparation for your competitions, again. Don’t worry, your fitness will come back quickly! For now, try focusing instead on strength, flexibility, coordination, and mental skills instead. Have courage and be open to suggestions and new things. What do you have to lose at the moment?

Without question, the most important thing right now is that you maintain your health and the health of your immediate social environment. Follow local regulations and take no unnecessary risks! Above all, keep your positivity under all circumstances. Remember, even the most negative situations always contain something good—but you usually only realize it afterward!

Marcel Berger

Marcel Berger is from Germany and a certified USA-Cycling level 1 coach and Cat 1 road cyclist. Currently, Marcel studies Kinesiology with Performance Psychology and Psychology at New Mexico State University.