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Players in lockdown: How to keep your mind sharp

20 March 2020
For professional footballers training in isolation because of the impact of the coronavirus, it's important to look after your mental fitness. FIFPRO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vincent Gouttebarge offers advice to keep your mind sharp.

Keep up with healthy life style, especially sleep and nutrition

Self-care is always important, but even more so if you have to keep your distance from other people. Maintain your sleeping habits; try to sleep well for regular periods (7-9 hours per night). Try to eat healthy: fresh fruits and vegetables, familiar protein sources and carbohydrate. Match energy intake to your exercise levels. Avoid alcohol and other drugs.

 

Follow a routine

Your daily routines and schedules probably have been significantly disrupted by the impact of the coronavirus. Find a new routine including the self-care tips above.

 

Maintain sufficient physical activity

Maintain an appropriate level of physical exercise, with focus on general endurance, sport-specific endurance (intermittent bouts), speed, strength, coordination and flexibility. See more tips on staying physically fit here.

 

Stay connected

Social distancing should not mean social disconnection. Use technology to stay connected and  ‘check in’ with friends and family more frequently than usual. Share your feelings. Schedule joint home training with a teammate and work out together via FaceTime, or WhatsApp. Re-connect with people you haven't seen for a while.

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Take breaks

Make time to unplug and decrease sensory overload. Try to turn to activities that you enjoy. Listen to music, take a walk, watch a favourite TV show.

 

Work on your mental game

Focus on what you can control as we sometimes fixate on events outside of our control. Ask yourself “what can I control in this situation”, set your sights on what you can control and focus on making yourself look calm and in control.

 

Challenge catastrophic thoughts

It is easy to assume the worst will occur and you won’t be able to handle it. Instead, remind yourself of transitions and challenges you have navigated in the past. Ask yourself:

  • What is the worst case scenario?
  • What is the likelihood of this scenario?
  • Even if this were to happen, what are the realistic consequences? Could I handle it?
  • Does worrying about this outcome help prevent it from happening?

 

Stay informed with the latest developments

Stay informed with the latest developments from reliable sites such as the World Health Organization or Athlete365. But avoid reading everything on COVID-19 in the news or on social media because this can unnecessarily amplify stress or worry.