In response to the coronavirus crisis many competitions, groups, clubs, classes, and activities have been postponed or canceled. Even the Olympics have been postponed until 2021. While most people are supportive of such actions in support of public health, expectant participants have experienced a deep sense of frustration and loss, especially those whose competitive careers were abruptly cut short. Thankfully, a canceled season, club, or activity does not need to lead to a canceled identity as an athlete or active individual. Athletes and active individuals can experience a great deal of growth during this unprecedented time of loss.
Those who identify as athletes, or physically active individuals, tend to exhibit drive, passion, persistence, commitment, and dedication. These attributes are not only beneficial for competitive athletics, but also in the so-called game of life, especially in times of national emergency. Athletes and active individuals take pride in working toward goals, embracing and sharing in the journey toward those goals, and celebrating both the challenges and successes along their personal and team-based journey. In this time where teams and other social fitness activities are put on hold, reflection on the core values of athletics and sport will allow athletes and active individuals to focus more upon their identity, and in turn, contribute to their communities.
Sports and physical activity can play a significant role in the pursuit of well-being, especially in times such as these. Holistic wellness exists on a continuum that includes not only your physical, but also your social and emotional well-being. When various members of society are being asked to buy into the team concept of social distancing for the greater good of your community and global health, those with experience in athletics and sport can make a valuable contribution. While athletes often hear the cliché, “there is no I in team,” this concept can be embraced more fully—both personally and publicly—especially now, when life has so drastically changed.
While the coronavirus has canceled an assortment of athletic events, the core attributes of athletes and active people can carry forward in the following four ways.
1. Learn from the Losses
One of the best lessons in competitive athletics is resilience. In the midst of social distancing, many are experiencing a sense of loss. There is comfort in the practices, competitions, and gym sessions that are a part of your weekly routine. Some level of anxiety, sadness, or insecurity may be hard to avoid as you shed the athlete or active label—something you have worn proudly over years of dedication to the sport and physical activity.
You can accept the reality of loss, adjust accordingly, and create new opportunities to succeed.
2. Celebrate the Wins
The thrill of victory can extend far beyond the court or field. You can express gratitude, even for the smallest things, especially in times of adversity. Instead of thinking about all of the activities you cannot do, reprogram your thinking into what you can do.
With a new sense of gratitude, you can express your passion for sport and activity in new and creative ways. By celebrating your wins, you embrace a mindset for the long term--to increase resilience for what the future holds.
3. Set New Goals for New Seasons
Those successful in athletics recognize that each season brings with it new opportunities. During this new season of social distancing, you can plan out your week, set reminders on your phone, and place sport and exercise sessions into your calendar. It is easy to skip regular exercise and practice sessions when your daily routine changes.
Although you may not be able to complete your typical or preferred session, look at alternative activities you can do; write them down. This will increase your commitment to the time scheduled for physical activity.
4. Rely on Your Team
Who are your teammates? Find a way to create mutual accountability and encouragement, while also providing an opportunity for social connection. Although you are practicing social distancing, find an accountability buddy who you can do daily or weekly check-ins with to keep you on track and hold you accountable for your daily practice or workout sessions. You may also be able to find virtual classes that you can take together through streaming services or apps. If you are part of a team, ask your coach to send daily tasks, activities, or team challenges you can complete in or around your home.
Those involved in athletics or physical activity are defined not merely by what they do, but because of why they do it. Canceled seasons do not need to lead to canceled identities. In the midst of cancellations and closures, you can win by first believing that change and growth remain possible. Rather than letting difficulties, failure, or cancellations overcome us, you can find a way to rise above this adversity and come through it with a sense of hope and achievement.
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