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How Athletes can cope with Stress and Depression during Coronavirus Lockdown

LockerRoom Team
20 April 2020

2020 has been tough on everyone. The Coronavirus situation is not making matters better either. And considering that we are going through an unprecedented experience in our life, the chances of us slipping into depression are quite high.

Athletes are also vulnerable to the same. Maintaining good mental health should be taken up as a priority by everyone out there including the athletes who are grinding to come out swinging once all this is over.

To get an expert opinion, we managed to catch up with Sports Psychologist Karanbir Singh who is also a PhD scholar, Master's in Sports Psychology (Gold Medallist) and a TED Talker. Here is what Karanbir had to say:

What are the steps that athletes can follow to avoid Stress and Depression?

  • A daily routine of workout to be followed
  • Proper diet and sleep to be taken
  • Utilize this time in observing their previous recorded matches and to watch videos of their role models
  • Interact with coaches and discuss future goal setting
  • Maintain mindfulness by taking regular sessions from a sports psychologist and practice meditation.

What are the major signs of depression in athletes or a person?

  • Losing appetite
  • Disturbed sleep pattern
  • Overthinking and not sharing their thoughts.

How important is it to open up to family and friends?

It is very important to open up and share their thoughts as I already mentioned in the above question that if thoughts are blocked, it may lead to depression. So to provide an emotional outlet, sharing is important and do seek help if above-mentioned depression signs appear more than a week.

What is one advice that you would like to give to the athletes out there?

Life is uncertain; nothing is permanent so as this lockdown too pass away soon. Till then, stay positive and keep your spirits high by doing work out and doing future goal setting.

Additionally, a lot of combat athletes, in the past have battled with depression as well including some UFC and Boxing World Champions. Here are some quotes from them on how they coped with it.

Former UFC champion Max Holloway:

“Depression is real and that really hit me hard. I was going through a phase where I wasn’t talking to no one. Only my son. Me and my son would do stuff but I was talking to no one. If I wanted to you I would call you but if people were reaching out to me I was putting myself away. Since I was in that situation, now I’m able to talk about it and I can tell people that’s not the way to do it. The way to do it is talk to your family, talk to your friends, be with everyone because you don’t know when things can change. Life changes on a dime so live life to the fullest.”

Former UFC champion Robert Whittaker

“It’s not like I suddenly felt like picking up a new hobby, it’s not like I suddenly felt like doing a new job, and it was more of like I didn’t want to do anything. I just wanted to have naps, not leave the house and just do nothing. It’s hard. I was demotivated to do anything. And it wasn’t specifically a sport-related thing, it was more everything. I was just tired, mate. I was just tired of it all. What really helped me is obviously the people that surrounded me. Being supported by my wife, my kids, the support system I had around myself, you know, my coaching staff, my training partners, they all cared for me. And just knowing that they’re there and you can talk to them is very important,”

ONE Championship Atomweight Champion Angela Lee

“I had my breakdowns, I had my crying all out of me. You can’t just sulk about it – you have to do something about it. That’s how you grow and that’s how you become a better person. I went back to the gym and trained harder than ever before. It felt like the beginning of my career – when I was so hungry to fight and so hungry to train,”

Former UFC champion Dominick Cruz

"The definition of depression is an obsession with oneself. That means everything is your fault when you’re in a depression. You get run over by a car, it’s your fault. The best thing to get out of that mode is to help other people. These are the things I had to learn to be able to make this step."

Boxing World Champion Tyson Fury

“I haven't defeated mental health, I still have bad days and good days - everybody does - but it never goes away. But I learn to maintain it [by] thinking positively and being around positive people,”

It’s important that to understand that the crisis we are going through is going to pass and that everything is going to be normal soon. Remember that all of us are in this together and we will get through this together.


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