How Can Athletes Overcome the Distress of Quarantine?

27th May 2020
Quarantine is an atypical period that's interrupted the training routines of athletes in every discipline. Therefore, it's important to talk about how athletes can overcome the negative emotions and distress that can come with quarantine.

Every athlete must learn how to overcome the distress of quarantine. During this period, it’s normal to experience a variety of emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant. But it’s important to maintain a positive attitude and not allow negativity to carry you away.

The distress of quarantine doesn’t affect every athlete in the same way. Those that have a harder time maintaining their training routines and physical fitness are more susceptible to suffering during confinement. At the same time, being able to continue one’s training routine–even with adaptations–helps athletes cope better with the circumstances.

It’s become quite clear that the year 2020 is going to be very atypical when it comes to sports. Many events have been postponed until next year, including the Olympic Games in Japan and the UEFA Euro. What’s more, individual sports leagues such as baseball and soccer are on standby, unsure of when they’ll be able to train and compete.

Overcoming the distress of quarantine requires athletes to do a certain amount of psychological work. And that’s what we want to talk about in the following article.

Controlling unpleasant emotions through relaxation

Relaxation techniques are very useful when it comes to calming the physical symptoms of anxiety. Classic techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing and the Jacobson muscle relaxation technique help you achieve a state of mental and physical well-being to overcome the distress of quarantine.

Other means of relaxation, such as meditation and mindfulness, have proven to be very effective, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Psychology. Even if you’re not familiar with these techniques, you can find guided sessions and tutorials led by professionals. Using these techniques will improve your ability to relax.

A woman meditating during quarantine.

Creativity also helps reduce the distress of quarantine

Training at home isn’t always easy. Space limitations and a lack of proper equipment can be very discouraging when it comes to your training routine. That’s why being creative and thinking of new ways to exercise can help you feel fulfilled and improve your emotional state.

You can easily substitute your usual gym equipment with everyday items. What’s more, you don’t need a lot of space to carry out aerobic trainingCreativity consists of finding a new use for the objects you have in your home and knowing how to make maximum use of your space.

One exercise that boosts creativity consists of looking around and thinking of new uses for the objects you see. This means considering the qualities–weight, shape, material–that they have with your usual gym equipment.

Keep negative thoughts at bay

The relationship between negative thoughts and anxiety is circular. Negative thoughts about the future increase distress and, at the same time, increase the occurrence of negative thoughts.

Maintaining a positive attitude is fundamental when it comes to breaking this vicious cycle. A positive attitude doesn’t mean denying reality. Rather, it means being conscious of the current situations while looking toward the future with hope and optimism.

At the same time, thinking about the future is exhausting and doesn’t offer any benefits. Quarantine is a new situation and we can’t predict what’s going to happen. Therefore, you should focus your attention on the present and direct your thoughts to the here and now.

Connect with your inner self

Social contact has multiple benefits for every person. In the case of athletes, trainers, fitness coaches, and teammates, it’s an essential part of life.

Of course, quarantine places major restrictions on our contact with others. So, it’s important to look for new ways to stay in touch with your friends and family. Technology is a great help in this sense and allows us to maintain contact with others by means of a screen.

An athlete using social media.

A study published in Cuadernos de Neuropsicología affirms that social contact releases oxytocin–a hormone that inhibits feelings of stress. And this is true regarding both personal and long-distance social contact. Therefore, the more oxytocin the brain releases, the fewer anxiety experiences the athletes will have.

Overcoming the distress of quarantine is possible!

Although emotions may be very intense during quarantine, you can manage them in an effective way. The recommendation of experts for the general population is the establish routines. And when it comes to athletes, the same is true.

It’s important to establish and maintain a daily training routineThe possibilities for exercising are numerous, you just need to be creative and look around.

  • Martino, P. (2014). Aspectos comportamentales de la oxitocina: su influencia en el estrés y en la cognición social. Cuadernos de Neuropsicología/Panamerican Journal of Neuropsychology, 8(2).
  • Miró, M. T., Perestelo-Pérez, L., Pérez Ramos, J., Rivero, A., González, M., y Serrano, P. (2011). Eficacia de los tratamientos psicológicos basados en mindfulness para los trastornos de ansiedad y depresión: una revisión sistemática= Effectiveness of mindfulness based treatments for anxiety and depressive disorders: a systematic review.