Tag Archive for 'Covid-19'

Less sport, more youth distress

In this period we talk a lot about the positive role of sport for young people and the serious problems that this pandemic has exerted on its development, basically preventing the practice of sports in swimming pools, at school and in all contact sports.

In fact, youth activities that are not of national interest have been almost completely prohibited, and the activities of thousands of sports clubs have been stopped. This is a serious matter that no one has been concerned about and for which no one has been interested in finding solutions. I have already written about this several times and I have not read statements that emphasize a sense of community with those who work in schools and in sports, but only categorical statements that the gyms will no longer be available for sports. From a social point of view, the lack of sports as well as distance learning has increased the discomfort of young people and increased the frequency of states of anxiety, depression and conflict within families.

This dramatic situation and its negative effects on the health of young people is part of an Italian context that is extremely lacking in opportunities for young people to participate in sports. In fact, in our country only 50% of 15-17 year olds practice sports on an ongoing basis and only 41% of schools have a gym (with the highest peak in Friuli Venezia Giulia where gyms are in 57% of schools: therefore, a consistently low data).

Thus, the pandemic has disproportionately expanded an already serious problem. Pragmatic solutions would have been necessary, but instead solutions have been sought by using the same spaces (the classrooms) that obviously contradict physical distancing. The same goes for sports, we could have thought of forms of collaboration between sports clubs and the school to bring students to outdoor spaces to do physical activity. A country less bureaucratic and concerned with young people would have found solutions.

New ebook: the pandemic in sport

The year 2020 is gone and it will be remembered as the worst year of the last 75 years, for having involved the entire world in a crisis, initially a health crisis, which became a planetary pandemic that has disrupted the lives of every person, causing millions of victims, destroying a significant part of the world economy and radically changing the way we work and interact with others. I am a psychologist and I deal with sport and the well-being of those who practice it, whether they are champions and professionals or individuals who carry out this activity as a lifestyle. The pandemic has forced us to stay home, physical distancing and eliminate sports activity as we knew it. Managing movement and sporting activity has become a source of additional stress that has produced negative psychological effects on people who even engage in recreational activity, among athletes who play sports professionally, and people with disabilities who benefit so obviously from engaging in sports on an ongoing basis.

Starting from these considerations, I began to talk about this situation on my blog, in order to better understand the effects of the pandemic on people and to provide guidance on how to practice sports, respecting the rules to cope with and reduce the possibility of contagion. The book represents a journey that started at the beginning of March, which has led me to talk about this issue until now that we are approaching the beginning of the new year. It talks about the mindset of those who don’t follow the rules, how one can deal with the anxiety brought about by this radical change in daily life, how one can train while staying at home and the reasons why it is good to be active and not suffer this situation. In addition, guidance is given to coaches on how not to give up their leadership role and to athletes on how to train in the absence of competition. Finally, I present practical tips and ways to think about and experience this unique and totally unexpected time.

Shooting: pandemic psychological aspects

The psychological aspects of a nightmare year. Online in the Italian magazine of the shooting federation. 

Today constraints could open our mind?

Read this information trying to think if the constraints we live today can help us open our mind and channel our creativity.

Ravi Mehta, Meng Zhu, Creating When You Have Less: The Impact of Resource Scarcity on Product Use Creativity, Journal of Consumer Research, 42(5), 2016, 767–782.

As we become a more abundant society, do our average creativity levels decrease?

Findings from recent research support this proposition. In accordance with our line of reasoning, the analysis of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking performance data over the past five decades indicates that in spite of the rise in IQ scores, creative thinking scores have significantly decreased since 1990, especially for kindergarteners through third grade students (Kim 2011).

Various lines of research suggest a possible negative correlation between resource availability and creativity and Historians have suggested a negative relationship between overconsumption and innovation.

The literature on:

  • Materialism shows that high levels of material values are negatively associated with individuals’ intellectual and spiritual development
  • Consumption and society argues that creativity is incompatible with the repetitiveness of modern mass production, which is shifting the culture from one that was intellectually challenging into one that is harried, familiar, and entertaining.
  • Paradoxes of technology suggests that while innovation and technology provide various benefits such as freedom, control, and efficiency, they could also usurp human motivation and skills, leading to dependence, ineptitude, and disengagement

Aware of our preconceived thoughts, delete them

Every day we try to explain our performances and what is happening around us. This trend is particularly perceived when we have to explain unexpected events to ourselves.

The pandemic we are experiencing this year is an event that falls in this last situation. One wonders how it was possible for this virus to spread. Who could have ever imagined that we were living in this situation as it was like the cholera and plague epidemics of the past centuries, and that science and our health care systems were completely unprepared.

In these times, we too often fall into providing explanations based on our own prejudices. We told ourselves that it was the fault of the Chinese and that the virus had been built in the laboratory or that it was the fault of the migrants who spread it because they are dirty. Others have chosen different explanations, the deniers have chosen the defense mechanism that is called denial. Still others thought that the virus was a justification for governments to control people’s lives, so they also rebelled against the rules of their governments, so they did not put on the mask and did not wash their hands.

How to change? How to accept reality? It would take a period of re-attributive training to learn how to shift the origin of our explanations from a superficial, selfish and prejudiced interpretation to one based on reality analysis, on data and not on subjective impression.

We would need this approach to regain control of our emotions, bringing our attention to those favoring the acquisition of self-control and not based on fear but on the responsibility that everyone has towards everyone.

We need leader-coach

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” Judy Garland
In these times of crisis this statement is more relevant than ever. It is for everyone, but even more so it is a question to be answered by leaders, those who guide and orient others.

The health crisis has regained strength and if to some extent the world of corporations is going down paths to support their leaders and managers even with the collaboration of the most important consulting companies, in the Italian sports world there is no trace of this mentality from professional soccer to amateur sports clubs. If in NBA specific projects are proposed in order to allow the public to return to see the matches, we ask more superficially to let more people enter the stadium, thus superimposing the goal on the tool. Without explaining how it is safeguarded the health of all. In addition, the quarrel between the different structures of the same sport and the propensity to formulate proposals by “sly” are the other elements that do not allow to formulate documented projects.

Going to the level of the end users of sport, even in this area, to my knowledge, there are no proposals. Coaches and athletes are left alone to live and manage this period of great fear and difficulty. Those who have had to stop and those who work are forced to live this period leveraging only on themselves and as far as I can see from my experience in recent months, the difficulties have multiplied, many have taken a pessimistic or fatalistic approach while more optimistic have leveraged their creativity trying to implement alternative solutions to maintain an active presence.
“We live in fear” is heard more and more often, you no longer have the unconsciousness of the first months of lockdown, in which it was thought that after that period we would return to normal, now we live the anxiety of living a situation that we do not know when it will end and in the meantime we live to the day and every day increase the people we know who get sick.

It is just now that we feel more this social loneliness, which is added not only to the fear of getting sick of Covid-19 but also that any other health problem that we know we will not be treated because the hospitals are in crisis.

In this context we cannot leave alone sports clubs, coaches and athletes from those who are preparing for the next Olympics to young people from soccer schools and all sports, we must not leave alone even people with disabilities for whom sport is an essential activity for their well-being.
In this sense, in compliance with the rules formulated by the government, it would be necessary that starting from the coaches who have the direct relationship with the athletes a concrete support (not only economic) is provided to their leadership to continue to carry out their work on the fields for those who are allowed and at a distance for those sports that have been stopped.

In this period, it is necessary to develop and act using these skills:

  • Deliberate calm and optimism, be confident but aware of the gravity of the situation.
  • Listen and share, the problems and fears of the people we work with.
  • Act, formulate training programs appropriate to the situations in which people live.

 

Federica Pellegrini and the need to have a goal

Federica Pellegrini: underlines the need in this period to have an goal and pursue it even in the uncertainty of the moment. This is what she summarizes in the interview published today in Repubblica and of which I report below the answer to the question of what she would do if there was another lockdown

If there was another general lockdown what would you do?

“I honestly don’t know, I don’t know how I would react. I have set myself the goal of getting to August. Whatever happens in the middle of the year, unless they tell us tomorrow that the Olympics are cancelled and then everything would change there, I’m moving forward towards my goal”.

Empathy and compassion to communicate with the others

Tania Singer e Olga Klimecki (2014) Empathy and compassion. Current Biology, 24, R875-R878.

“Although the concepts of empathy and compassion have existed for many centuries, their scientific study is relatively young. The term empathy has its origins in the Greek word ‘empatheia’ (passion), which is composed of ‘en’ (in) and ‘pathos’ (feeling). The term empathy was introduced into the English language following the German notion of ‘Einfühlung’ (feeling into), which originally described resonance with works of art and only later was used to describe the resonance between human beings. The term compassion is derived from the Latin origins ‘com’ (with/together) and ‘pati’ (to suffer); it was introduced into the English language through the French word compassion. In spite of the philosophical interest for empathy and the fundamental role that compassion plays in most religions and secular ethics, it was not until the late 20th century that researchers from social and developmental psychology started to study these phenomena scientifically.

According to this line of psychological research, an empathic response to suffering can result in two kinds of reactions: empathic distress, which is also referred to as personal distress; and compassion, which is also referred to as empathic concern or sympathy. For simplicity, we will refer to empathic distress and compassion when speaking about these two different families of emotions. While empathy refers to our general capacity to resonate with others’ emotional states irrespective of their valence — positive or negative — empathic distress refers to a strong aversive and self-oriented response to the suffering of others, accompanied by the desire to withdraw from a situation in order to protect oneself from excessive negative feelings. Compassion, on the other hand, is conceived as a feeling of concern for another person’s suffering which is accompanied by the motivation to help. By consequence, it is associated with approach and prosocial motivation.

Research by Daniel Batson and Nancy Eisenberg in the fields of social and developmental psychology confirmed that people who feel compassion in a given situation help more often than people who suffer from empathic distress. Furthermore, Daniel Batsons’ work showed that the extent to which people feel compassion can, for instance, be increased by explicitly instructing participants to feel with the target person. Interestingly, the capacity to feel for another person is not only a property of a person or a situation, but can also be influenced by training.

In order to train social emotions like compassion, recent psychological research has increasingly made use of meditation-related techniques that foster feelings of benevolence and kindness. The most widely used technique is called ‘loving kindness training’. This form of mental practice is carried out in silence and relies on the cultivation of friendliness towards a series of imagined persons. One would usually start the practice by visualizing a person one feels very close to and then gradually extend the feeling of kindness towards others, including strangers and, at a later stage, also people one has difficulties with. Ultimately, this practice aims at cultivating feelings of benevolence towards all human beings.”

Coaches don’t give up the athletes

Never as in these days the role of the coach is crucial to support their athletes.

One must not give up the role of leader, otherwise it is easy for athletes to feel only discouraged, abandoned and think that if you can not do as before, then there is nothing to do.

The situation is difficult for everyone, but it is even more so for those who practice contact sports and in the gym, there are no competitions, it is difficult to train and frustration can become the dominant mood.

The task of sports clubs and coaches is now priceless  to provide guidance on how to train but above all to share this dramatic experience with athletes.

Don’t give up!

10 things to do for athletes

  1. establish with them goals for improvement
  2. provide a physical, technical-tactical and mental program to be carried out
  3. give a system of evaluation of their progress
  4. search video to comment together
  5. organize online or outdoor challenges
  6. listen to what the athletes have to tell you
  7. talk to them about the difficulties of training in this new way
  8. emphasize this type of training and the benefits it provides
  9. strengthen their commitment and correct mistakes
  10. be determined to lead athletes