COVID-19: Talking mental health with Paddy Upton

Upton, who was associated with the Indian cricket team that won the World Cup in 2011, wants people to look for new hobbies to beat the coronavirus lockdown.

Published : Apr 03, 2020 19:25 IST , Mumbai

Cricket coach Paddy Upton highlighted the physical as well as intellectual aspects of dealing with the pandemic.
Cricket coach Paddy Upton highlighted the physical as well as intellectual aspects of dealing with the pandemic.

Cricket coach Paddy Upton highlighted the physical as well as intellectual aspects of dealing with the pandemic.


These are tough times. With the world coming to a standstill due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the sporting activities too, have come to a halt. And as the country witnesses a 21-day lockdown, the athletes find themselves in a spot of bother. Their training regimes are affected. There is no clarity on when the sporting activities will resume. And in such gloomy times, it is very important to keep the mind fit.

Mental fitness coach, Paddy Upton, who has worked with sporting icons across discipline, feels that in times like these, it is important to take care of various aspects, as most of them are inter-linked. “It’s not just the mind. Every single thing has been disrupted. What we need to do is recalibrate how we are spending our times, our energy. There needs to be a few areas that each one of us need to revisit,” he said.

In a chat with Sportstar from his home in Cape Town, Upton — who was associated with the Indian cricket team which won the World Cup in 2011 — listed out eight aspects that everyone, specially the athletes, should keep in mind in such cruel times.

Mental aspect: That’s a key component and for that to happen, we need to ensure that we work on the other areas as well. We need to take care of our emotional lives but that’s gone on a roller coaster ride and it needs deliberate attention.

Spiritual aspect: We need to think what we are doing with spirituality, religion, meditation — to be somewhere fully present and go for an inward journey. That’s a very crucial factor.

Financial aspect: The pandemic will surely have a long-lasting impact on the economy, so as individuals, it is important to come up with new plans and implement in terms of managing our finances in the next three, six, nine or twelve months.


Hobby and leisure aspect: In these times, it is necessary to work on your hobbies. I love going to the water and surf, but that can’t happen now. I now need to replace that with some other hobby, either an existing hobby which I can do at home, or come up with something new. It could be learning to do art, hand juggle, to writing poetry or get into woodwork. I need to find something so that I can use my brains and hands.

Physical aspect: I need to look at my lifestyle. Our lifestyles have changed, so how do we ensure that we are eating healthy and I am drinking the right amount of water. Now, we need to procure more at home rather than getting out. People need to look at their alcohol intake. People who consume alcohol now might have the tendency to rely more on alcohol and over-drinking. They need to be careful about that. And to stay healthy, we need to look at exercises. Since we can’t hit the gym or go running, then we need to come out with a solution on what to do at home. We need to make sure that we actually move around.

Intellectual aspect: This is the time to focus on your intellectual aspect — study more, get into academics, pursue micro-degrees, which will eventually help you in the longer run. This is the best time to find a specific subject, that you think will be valuable for your life — now and also in the post-playing days — and keep yourself busy. One should read small portions five times a day, sparing just half an hour. It could be anything: administration, website development or whatever. Now is the time to improve on you education and develop your intellectual prowess.

Social aspect: We are now physically separated from people, but this is the best time to really connect with the important people in our lives, through various mediums. For athletes, it could be connecting with their friends and families, with whom they haven’t spent much time.

Humanitarian aspect: The most critical aspect comes now. In a country like India or South Africa, what will now happen is that a whole lot of people will now not have money to feed themselves. If there are a lot of people who are hungry and need to feed their children, they could be desperate and could resort to drastic and desperate measures to get food. It is very important for an athlete now to network those people and understand what’s happening in the immediate community. Whether I am in Delhi, Mohali or Bengaluru, I need to check what’s happening in my immediate community and how can I feed those people, who cannot feed themselves now. If an athlete can use his profile to bring awareness to the organisations and do whatever they can to ensure that needy people are really fed now, it will be a step up; social support and social obligation to support the less fortunate.

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