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Top tips from athletes

Lockdown has been difficult for everyone. Team England athletes are here to help – with advice on looking after your mental health while we stay at home.

Winter is hard enough at the best of times; add in a national lockdown and 2021 is already presenting lots of extra challenges: juggling work and home schooling; isolation and loneliness; anxiety and depression; or even just sheer boredom.

While staying physically healthy is essential during lockdown, looking after our mental health is just as important.

Team England athletes have already stepped in with home workout advice, but we’ve also asked them to impart some of their best advice on staying mentally healthy as we stay at home.

1. Take a stroll

Commonwealth silver medallist race walker Tom Bosworth says getting outside for a daily stroll is just as important for your mental health as your physical wellbeing:

“My message to you today is get outside and go for a walk. It’s a chance to get out of the house that we’ve been trapped in for the best part of a year now, and think things over and make rational and calm decisions, and have time to yourself. It’s a great benefit to you, and probably everything that you’re doing in your day to day lives.”

2. Stick to a routine

Team England weightlifter Sarah Davies says she stays positive by keeping a regular structure to her day:

“A big thing for me is staying in routine and making sure I’m not sleeping in too much, or going to bed too late. If you normally go to the gym after work, do your work and then just do a little home workout. I know you might not have the same motivation but you don’t always have the motivation to go the gym after you’ve been to work, so try to just get yourself into that routine.”

3. Make a gratitude list

Rhythmic gymnast Mimi-Isabella Cesar likes to focus on the small positive things in her life while everything else is so uncertain:

“Before I go to bed, I write down what I’m grateful for, so my family and their health is on today’s list. And then I give myself three priorities on stuff to do for me. On my list today is: phone my dad and catch up with him, he always makes me laugh; take a long bath and relax my muscles because I’ve been training hard at the moment; and to get outside and have a bit of fresh air and go for a walk and take a moment to myself if I can.”

4. Make a to-do list

Para powerlifter Ali Jawad says setting goals has really help him stay motivated while at home:

“For me I stay positive by having process goals every single day that you can tick off your list, knowing that you’re one step closer towards that goal. This has worked for me in the past, it’s actually worked for me more during lockdown. I’ve actually been the most productive I’ve ever been, so even though at this present time we are in a negative moment, there are positives to look forward to, we just have to hang in there.”

5. Celebrate small wins

When everything going on in the world feels so big and scary, para sprint legend Hannah Cockroft says taking pleasure in small tasks can make life less overwhelming:

“I’ve really been working on making sure that I’ve really recognised the small positives in every day. So I set myself a goal, no matter how small it is, and recognise that I managed to do that. Whether that’s getting my training done in the day, cleaning the bathroom, or making a really nutritious meal, recognise the small things you’re doing and you’ll realise you’re actually doing a lot.”

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