How to beat lockdown blues: IOC has pointers for athletes

The IOC Mental Health Working Group has proposed self-care tips for athletes to prioritise sleep and nutrition, staying connected and fighting negative thoughts.

In this picture taken on March 25, 2020, Olympic rings floating on a barge are seen behind cherry blossoms in Odaiba, Tokyo. With the Olympics postponed and the COVID-19 crisis confining large numbers of people to their homes, the IOC has taken the next step to keep the athletes tuned to a positive mindset.   -  AP

Having postponed the Olympics in Tokyo to next year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken the next step to keep the athletes tuned to a positive mindset, amidst the depressing scenario painted across the globe by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bringing the world of athletes under one umbrella through Athlete365, for which the Olympic and non-Olympic athletes can sign-up, the IOC, through its website Olympic.org, has started its attempt to lift the engulfing gloom around the world, with a list of points for athletes: “How to stay positive.”

The IOC Mental Health Working Group has proposed self-care tips for athletes to prioritise sleep and nutrition, staying connected and fighting negative thoughts. “You can do this by taking care of both your mental and physical health,” says the introduction, even as it lists six tips from the Dutch team’s psychologist, Paul Wylleman.

‘Specific measures’

The first advice for athletes of the world is to choose trusted communication channels, and understand the relevance of the overwhelming flood of information. The second point advises the athletes to manage their thoughts. “We have to accept that we cannot always be in control of the situation, but that we have the ability to take some specific measures that can deal with our problems to keep daily life as structured as possible.”

Seeking to shift the focus from the negative thoughts, the guidance is for athletes to stay relaxed, by taking deep breaths to relieve tension. The importance of listening to music, taking a walk, reading a book or watching a favourite TV show, has been highlighted.

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Urging the importance of adapting to the new surroundings and practising social distancing as key to the current environment, the next advice seeks the athletes to take the help of visualisation to stop feeling guilty of rude behaviour. “Keep your eye on the future,” is the fourth advice. The athletes need to be in constant touch with their coaches and teams, to manage daily training in the restrained circumstances.

‘Stay prepared’

“Eventually events and competitions will return. So, make sure you stay prepared and ready for that moment,” reads the redeeming line for the athletes. The expert advice for the athletes is to capitalise on the communication channels, even while maintaining physical distance, to stay in touch with friends and team-mates by sharing thoughts, to be mentally fit.

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Conceding that the uncertain situation can make the athletes feel insecure, restless or irritable, the sixth tip from the expert emphasises that sharing problems as well as daily activities would help in maintaining a stable lifestyle and deal with the psychological impact.

Finally, the IOC has also suggested the athletes to tap the resources from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on dealing with COVID-19. The IOC has designed a mobile application - ‘Get Set - Train Smarter’ - which identifies effective exercises for athletes in different sports.

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