Tag Archive for 'coronavirus'

Covid and mindset: a lost war

Now begins the phase of self-control. There was a case of covid in an international golf tournament, the same happened in Adria in the tournament promoted by Djokovic, where a finalist was positive. In Italy, in football there will be a bland quarantine in case the virus hit a player or other members of the team. Small but negative signals that push us to live in apnea, as if waiting.

Always negative and more relevant signals come from Italy. There are statistics that say that the number of positives is not falling as expected, probably due to inadequate behaviors. And this would increase the probability of a second wave in the autumn. According to research conducted by the Catholic University, 41% of Italians do not seem willing to vaccinate against Covid. At the moment only a few million people have downloaded the Immuni App. It is mainly people between 35 and 59 years (with 48%) to declare that they do not want to be vaccinated, it is also a transversal group in relation to professions that unites workers and entrepreneurs, employees and professionals. They share a psychological profile in which prevails a “fatalist”, “individualist and selfish” and do not perceive the value of social responsibility. The research has shown that compared to March, the self-control of the population to respect the rules has decreased, dysfunctional behaviors have increased and the emotional willingness to continue to respect them has decreased.

Therefore, these people show a difficulty in integrating the return to normality within the framework of rules that are not the usual ones, but which imply awareness of the social role of each person with regard to the management of their own health and responsibility towards their community. These dysfunctional attitudes are the usual ones that people use to justify to themselves behaviors that are clearly negative for their health, just think of the problems related to smoking, nutrition and sedentary lifestyle, just to remember the most common ones in our society. The fatalistic approach (“I will certainly not die of cancer because I smoke” or “You have to die of something anyway”) and the individualistic approach (“They say what they want me to smoke” or “Life is mine and I do what I want”) are enemies of social life and personal self-control. We are faced, therefore, with the reactions that people show to those problems requiring solutions that are developed in the long term and do not end quickly. They are not reactions different from those they have used in the past, but until now they have mainly involved only themselves.

To this approach should be added that crowding into a square to have fun with friends immediately produces positive emotions, while respecting the rules of physical distancing to stay healthy will only produce a positive effect over time. In essence, these behaviours are reinforced by the immediate benefits that they bring and that outweigh the costs and consequences over time.

We need a change of mentality because now it is completely different and the effects of our actions have an effect on the health of others we come into contact with.The difference lies in the pandemic that involves the whole of society, which has hit everyone’s daily life very hard and still continues to change the rules of social coexistence and work. All this requires a collective solution that drastically reduces dysfunctional behaviors and the whole country will have to actively move in this direction.

Track & field and training after coronavirus

The blog “10 goals to train with pleasure and success” continues to be diffuse in Italian sport.

Now it’s on Italian track and field federation web site.

Guidance to cope with the loss of competition

*A guidance report recently produced by the Covid-19 Sport and Exercise Psychology Working Group on behalf of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology has highlighted three priority areas with which to support athletes.

  1. Mental health and dealing with uncertainty

With many events and competitions postponed indefinitely, with no certain confirmation of when some will resume, this is likely to cause a significant amount of stress for athletes.

If athletes struggle to cope with stress, over time it is likely to have a negative impact on their mental health, especially if they do not seek support or begin to take proactive measures to manage their well-being.

There are several successful psychological strategies which athletes can use to cope with stress or manage their mental health. These strategies may also be effective to help with the uncertainty caused by coronavirus:

Control the controllable(s):

  • Focus on what is within our control (e.g: exercising and training safely, seeing opportunities for personal development and growth, maintaining physical distancing but maintaining social interactions).
  • Accept that some sources of uncertainty are outside of our control (e.g: when sporting events will be resumed, when physical distancing restrictions will be lifted).
  • Accept that feelings associated with stress and anxiety are normal responses to uncertainty.
  • Maintain a sense of perspective (e.g: given the lockdown restrictions it may not be possible to maintain ‘typical’ levels of fitness).

Athletes tend to prefer ‘problem-focused’ coping strategies. However, this approach may not be effective if the source of stress is outside of our control. Therefore, we recommend that athletes prioritise strategies that cope with what is within their control and learn to accept what is outside of their control.

Focus on our responses to the uncertainty:

  • Practice deep breathing
  • Use relaxing imagery
  • Engage in mindfulness or meditation
  • Listen to music
  • Develop routines to connect with family, friends, team-mates or coaches about how our feelings
  • Write thoughts, feelings, and worries down regularly

When faced with sources of stress outside of our control, it is better to focus on regulating your emotions rather than the uncertainty itself.

Use helpful distractions:

  • Train or exercise (within social distancing guidelines)
  • Take a walk in a green space-where possible (this has been shown to reduce stress levels)
  • Take up a new hobby at home
  • Do an activity with members of your household
  • Watch television (but be wary of repeatedly watching too much Covid-19-related news stories)
  • Take part in a virtual quiz
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Avoid reminders of cancelled sporting events

Research has suggested that, when unable to compete and train with fellow athletes, distraction and avoidance can be an effective way of coping with stress for some sportspeople.

 2. Maintaining social connections

Covid-19 has resulted in great changes to the rhythm of daily life and to how we maintain social connections and have a sense of belonging. Athletes have a strong professional-identity; created, in part, from the time spent within the organisational structure of sport and socialising with other members.

Feeling connected with others and being part of groups that we perceive to be positive and meaningful is beneficial for our psychological health and well-being.

Therefore, it is important for athletes to consider how narrow or wide their social network is in terms of personal and professional relationships, and who they want and need to maintain communication with, within and outside sport:

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Peers in sport
  • Coaching staff and management

By keeping communication channels open and by scheduling regular connections with key individuals or groups it will be easier to raise difficulties before they become more problematic.

Presently in our work with elite sports teams and individuals we have found the scheduling of online coffee chatrooms is an easy way to maintain communication along with sharing daily hassles and concerns, while also maintaining a sense of fun, and dressing room ‘banter’.

       3. Motivation and goal setting

Many sports people will have begun this year immersed and focused on high-performance goals that may have represented the culmination of years of dedication and commitment.

The impact of coronavirus and the cancellation and suspension of competitions and training means that these goals are no longer a daily presence and driving force; and for many, are now unobtainable this year.

The sudden loss of this opportunity to achieve our goals combined with isolation, restrictions on social movement, exercise and training can lead to significant mental health issues.

Adopting strategies and adjusting or re-engaging in alternative goals can improve well-being through increasing feelings of self-control.

Create a daily structure and alternative goals for well-being:

  • Creating new social networks and maintaining contact
  • Physical well-being, for example sleep patterns, nutrition and Pilates to name a few
  • Personal development such as learning a new skill, or taking up a hobby

Many athletes also find the use of a reflective diary as a useful and effective way to log their progress, but in the current situation such diaries can be used to disclose worries and anxieties.

The act of writing problems down can be an effective technique to help deal with worries and concerns.

Re-adjust and reframe goals

As athletes look to the future they may also want to think about taking some time to define or redefine mastery goals. Mastery goals are those that focus on self-improvement (getting better at a skill, having insight into why improvement occurred), they help maintain motivation and can provide a sense of purpose as we move into the new normal.

Importantly, when we are setting goals, whether these are to structure our day or mastery goals to aid us moving forward, we must remember to be realistic, use our support network to help achieve the goals and don’t be afraid to reach out to our social network for advice and feedback.

Ultimately, the COVID-19 lockdown is an uncertain and stressful time for many people including elite and professional sport performers. The ability to cope with stress, largely depends on our ability to have a flexible mindset along with engaging and adhering to some of the evidence-based principles above.

The present adversity may also offer some an opportunity for reflection and contemplation on work-life balance, life expectations, priorities, and goals.

*This blog was compiled by Dr Jamie Barker, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, Loughborough University and the Covid-19 Sport and Exercise Psychology Working Group on behalf of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

The data about the stress from coronavirus

An international study, led by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Spain) spin-off Open Evidence, has revealed that the mental health of 41% of the UK population is at risk as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The research project, which involves the participation of researchers from the Glasgow University, Università degli Studi di Milano, Università degli Studi di Trento, Tilburg University and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, indicates that almost 60% of the UK population require “the government not only to focus on containing the virus, but also on preventing a major economic crisis”.

The data collected in the first survey, which sampled 10,551 people (3,523 in the United Kingdom, 3,524 in Spain and 3,504 in Italy) between 24 April and 1 May, show that most of the population between 18 and 75 years of age report having felt down, depressed, or hopeless about the future at some point during this period: 57% in the United Kingdom, 67% in Spain and 59% in Italy. In the words of Cristiano Codagnone, co-founder of one of the participating entities, UOC spin-off Open Evidence, “the data provides a picture on the impact of the lockdown and we need to be prepared for the associated social and health consequences of that”.

The analysis of this data alongside additional factors such as housing type (full ownership, mortgaged property, rental, etc.), living conditions (square metres of accommodation, number of people living there, presence of school-age children), loss of employment, closure of own business, loss of income and access to COVID-19 testing has provided a general gauge in relation to people’s state of mental health in the three countries. The results reveal that the mental health of 41% of people in the UK is at risk, with figures of 46% and 42% registered for Spain and Italy, respectively.

The goals of this long training period

Recently I wrote a blog titled “Back to field, how the training without competition?” I said:

These are trying times in any professional field and even sport has had to stop in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.These first two months of lockdown at home have been really hard for those who are used to spend their days engaged in intense and prolonged training or to travel and participate in competitions. Who better spent this unique time in everyone’s life? Probably those who have managed to make sense of their days by recreating their habits and activities within the walls of their homes. For example, from Cristiano Ronaldo to the young junior athletes, to follow a program of physical preparation has been an important moment of their daily life, representing a bridge between yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Set goals. Having new goals is necessary, as this training period has been and will continue to be much longer than usual. Athletes should consider this period as an opportunity to continue to improve. Their goals will not change but the timing of these goals will have to be adapted to the lack of competition.

Be resilient and tough. Knowing how to adapt to this moment of their career is based on these two psychological skills, more than ever essential to maintain a high level of motivation during training. The speed and quality of adaptation will have a major impact on how they will behave in the future. Resilience and toughness with respect to how their competitors are reacting and coping. If they can adapt better than their opponents, then they will return better than before coronavirus period.

Use time wisely. There is much time now, much more than ever. It should be used as an opportunity to work on those skills that are usually more neglected or that they have not been able to work on. For example, the importance of breaks in one’s sport to recover physical and mental energy and refocus on the immediate future, develop attentional training and improve in managing one’s stress and negative moments.

Sharing. It is always important to have people with whom the athletes share their dreams and fears, goals and obstacles along the track, achievements and mistakes. Physical distance should not involve psychological distance from people who are important to athletes.

To find out more write to me!

What I have learned in these last two month

In these days of slowing down the lockdown we were living in I wondered what I had learned, what I was taking with me as an experience of these 2 months.

Interpersonal contacts vs. digital communication
Interpersonal closeness to people, not mediated by technology, is a necessity for us mammals accustomed to lead a daily social life based on immediate physical contact. This period I understood that digital communication alone cannot replace this need, which has always been satisfied by human beings.

On the contrary, however, I could also fully become aware that online communication and the ease of its access are factors with an extraordinary impact on work and relational life. Digital acts in the direction of giving us a greater availability of the resource from which we suffer the most: the time. It is a saving that also has an effect on our daily well-being, reducing stress due to a lifestyle in which travels take up too much of our time.For the future, we must enhance the care of interpersonal relationships through physical proximity, but at the same time digital is the most effective way to better manage the complexity of professional life.

Balance and priority setting between well-being and work
In these weeks of lockdown personal wellbeing and professional needs have become more clearly intertwined than the usual organization of our days. The effort of adaptation has been very significant as we found ourselves living an unforeseen and previously unplanned condition. Just think about the difficulty of many families divided between the work organization of the parents and the online school commitments of their children. In an increasingly digital future it will be necessary to find a balance between private life and work, between everyday stress and well-being.

Work in presence and work online
In my work with athletes and professionals from other professional fields it was necessary to adapt to this new solution – at a distance – especially in understanding and making them understand that working together was not “something, waiting to start again in the usual way” but it was the best way to train mentally and to prepare for performance in a way that was certainly different but no less effective. The mental attitude of doing something “waiting to” was widespread and it took some time before accepting a different way of thinking. Currently the people I work with are convinced that this period has allowed them to become aware of aspects of their performances and the importance of developing certain skills that they would never have achieved, as they would have been too involved in the running of the season.

Motivation and training during coronavirus pandemic

Today online seminar at the University on current topics on the psychological aspects of training in the corona virus period.

Research: the athletes’ life during corona virus

Applied research is an important aspect of promoting the profession of psychologist.
In relation to what we are living in these weeks, it is relevant to know how athletes are facing this moment of long crisis never experienced before in these extreme forms.
Below is the invitation to participate in this survey, through the compilation of a questionnaire on the web.

Hello everyone,
Together with a group of psychologists and experts in sports psychology we are investigating the consequences caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) on the everyday life of people for whom sport is essential.
We decided to structure a research to understand the impact that the current situation is generating in the lives of Coaches and Athletes. We are investigating not only their sports habits, but also how they are experiencing this period, the emotions and stressful events they are experiencing, as well as the strategies they are putting into practice to best manage it.
That is precisely why we need your help, indeed the help of the whole sporting world.
In fact, we invite you to complete the following QUESTIONNAIRE (which can also be completed by smartphone and tablet) and to spread this initiative to as many athletes, coaches and clubs as possible. It will be thanks to you that we will be able to better understand how to face this situation and to build resources for the future to the resumption of sports activities.

https://bit.ly/sportestop

You can also follow us on www.facebook.com/sportecovid
Thank you

Thinking of these days: feel united

The thoughts of athletes can be useful to us to continue to reflect on our experience in these days. Thinking is useful to keep a reality oriented mentality not destructive or fatalistic and not even optimistic in a superficial way. These interviews concern athletes who run in the mountains and demonstrate the importance of feeling united, oriented towards the future by following the rules of the present. You can read the entire text on the World Mountain Running Association

“With the current COVID-19 crisis having such an effect on races and runners worldwide we wanted to reach out to athletes in different countries to see how they were affected and how they were coping with the situation. Many athletes in the worst affected countries, such as Italy and Spain, are very limited in being able to run, whereas for others the key restrictions are a lack of group training and obviously a lack of races. But wherever the athletes we spoke to were, what united all of them was a feeling that this crisis puts running into perspective and that we will get through it by pulling together and looking out for each other.

Francesco Puppi also feels that it’s a time to reflect, “Do we really miss the routine we constantly complain of and that the virus forces us to rethink? How badly do we miss friends, relatives, people, in a society where our network of relationships plays out in a virtual square, where our connections gives us the illusion of a human contact, a hug? Silence will help me answer these questions I keep asking myself.”

And what if you’ve targeted a particular race and it’s been cancelled? Social media is full of angry runners who’ve had their A races taken away, but the athletes we spoke to have a much more positive take on the situation. “Training every day has been a part of my lifestyle for 20 years now (wow, I’m getting old!), so regardless of racing I would be putting in the time to train and workout. What keeps me positive is knowing that all of my hard work is not for naught. When the time does come to race, you can do so confidently because you have been given the opportunity to focus on training so that you can be as prepared as possible. Think of this time as just putting money in the bank; you may not be using it now, but it sure is going to come in handy later on when you make the deposit either in the fall or next year.” says Maria Dalzot.

Likewise Francesco Puppi’s spring season (including the Rotterdam Marathon ) has been turned upside down but he is philosophical about it: “it doesn’t mean that all the work I did has been wasted. I am still proud of what I managed, of the big effort I put into those 110-mile weeks, the sore legs, the long workouts. Of the improvements and setbacks I experienced in this journey. It’s just a matter of re-thinking our goals. Keep on running because this something we love and makes us feel good, even in the worst situation. This should be the main reason behind it.”

Max King sees race cancellations as an opportunity to do other things, “I’m looking at the positive at some races being cancelled so that I can tackle other projects such as FKTs, or getting a good solid base of training in for the summer race season if we’re able to have it. There’s so many ways to stay positive and look on the bright side when something like a race gets cancelled. Sure, it’s a bummer but there will be other opportunities soon enough.”

But as a race director (of the recently cancelled Bend Marathon) he also asks runners for their understanding in these difficult times: “people just don’t understand how hard that is for a race director. We’re not given a choice about cancelling and it’s not always possible to give everyone’s money back and still be able to have a race next year. We’re small businesses most of the time and we’ve worked all year to bring racers a unique experience. It’s not like all the work and expenses are on one weekend. I think people need to understand that.”

The overwhelmingly uplifting response we got from the runners we contacted speaks volumes about our community. Nancy Hobbs points out that we need to look out for each other at this difficult time. “One of the most important things is to check in with your running friends, it’s crucial to support one another”. Andrew Douglas warns that “it can be easy to become overly anxious looking at your social media feeds with the sheer volume of posts about coronavirus; so I try to make a conscious effort to limit my access”. Looking after ourselves and each other will help us through this.”

Coaching in these difficult days

These days it is not always possible to train as we would like because the sports center could be closed, in many sports you need to train with someone else and there is not always this opportunity, because the coaches could have personal problems and so on. Especially younger athletes than senior national team athletes may encounter these difficulties more.

For those at home I would like to give some suggestions to train anyway, even if in a different way than usual.

Set goals - It is necessary to have goals on which to orient the daily commitment, in many sports can relate more to physical and mental preparation, easier to perform at home or in spaces other than the usual training environment. So set what to do, when and for how long.
Physical Preparation - Have your coach send you the physical preparation program you can do at home. Follow it and exchange results, thinking and difficulties with him/her.
Mental Preparation - Use this days to focus more on this type of training. You can train 4 psychological skills: self-control through breathing, concentration on task and performance, imagination of your performance, and have a constructive self-talk. Do it on a daily basis, if you work with a sports psychologist, work together for this program that is good to do on a daily basis. If you would like to use this time to start such a job, you can contact a sports psychologist or write to me through the blog and I will reply.
Videos - Watching videos of other athletes’ performances is useful to understand how they face competitions, moments of difficulty, style of play or anything else that may interest you. Watch videos driven by a specific target and not like a fan.