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Adapting to Our New "Norm": Psychological Strategies for Youth Athletes

Adapting to Our New "Norm": Psychological Strategies for Youth Athletes

The new realities imposed on us by the coronavirus can be difficult to adjust to. Everyone has had to change their daily routines relative to when we wake up in the morning, when we go to bed, how they engage in school, hang out with friends, spend more time than usual with family, when you go to the park, work out, and when you go out to dinner and to the movies. 

 The disruption comes about mostly because people are creatures of habit and pattern and have become accustomed to living their lives tied to activities that are routine and predictable. When routines are interrupted without notice and when there is not a clear timetable for returning to the way it used to be, then people feel several different emotions. These emotions might include feeling anxious, depressed, confused, angry, lost, and helpless. And, when left unchecked, these kinds of emotions can cloud judgment about decisions that need to be made and they can begin to feel like burdens that you want to get rid of. 

So, when feeling overwhelmed, it is important to learn how to manage the emotions that take up time that could be spent more productively. 

Here are some tips that are important to consider when feeling overwhelmed:

1. Acknowledging that unanticipated changes have occurred and that feelings about what has happened need to be expressed in healthy ways.

2.  Identifying a counselor, advisor, trusted professional, trusted family member, or other persons deemed by you to be important and visit with that person on a regular basis talking about areas of concern and challenge.

3. Logging your thoughts, feelings, concerns, issues, and reflections in a journal. This self-care strategy allows people to unload their daily burdens which provides a measure of emotional relief and comfort. Journaling is best done when you make entries on a daily basis and at the same time every day. It is also important to write for whatever period of time you feel able. You can take 5 minutes or as long as 30 minutes. Do not judge what you are writing (e.g., don’t worry about spelling, grammar, etc.) … just write!

4. Designing your own schedule that complements whatever schedule you already have. When people can design and implement their own schedule (e.g., scheduling a class to learn a second language or how to cook or bake a dish), they begin to feel like they are regaining some of the control they feel that they lost.

5. Memorizing at least one positive affirmation per day. For example, consider repeating to yourself multiple times per day one of the following affirmations.: “ I am strong, confident, and able to accomplish my goals!”; “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”; “While I can’t change the direction of the wind, I can adjust the sail!” When you repeat positive affirmations to yourself many times per day, people actually begin to believe the message they are repeating. When they start believing the message, they begin to behave as if it is true. So,  SAY – BELIEVE – BEHAVE every day.

6. Dreaming about all of the goals you still want to accomplish. Most children dream and dreams have a way of giving people something to look forward to. It adds a sense of meaning and purpose to life. For many reasons, adults either forget how to dream or feel like they are too old to dream. A person is never too old to dream!

Adapting to our “new norm” has not been an easy task, but you taking the time to read this and sharing this information is the first step. While being consistent is important, we have good days and bad days. Take it one day at a time and try doing these tips with a friend or your family, so you’re not alone. 

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