As we go into another national lockdown, Elijah Trevers offers a personal look at what this means for him, sporting activity and mental health this winter.
When the first UK lockdown finally came to an end, it was no surprise that gyms, sports facilities, and parks were full to the brim with all of us that had been cooped up inside waiting to release all our energy.
The hype was not long lived however, and as we all now know we are back to the doom and gloom of a second lockdown.
While many shops that sell essential items, and primary schools remain open, gyms have been asked to shut their doors and non-elite sport has come to a halt.
When you are playing football every Saturday or Sunday and training midweek with a group of friends, the fun you have masks the benefits felt in the gym
In the gym you are in your own headspace, you have control of yourself, which means the physical and mental benefits you gain are far more prevalent to yourself, but this is not to say that gyms are the only place we go for activity and sport.
Playing football weekly with friends, playing tennis daily at your local club, going to your nearest cricket nets with your neighbours, meeting with schoolmates at the basketball court in the sports centre down the road- the breaks have been applied to all of these and the mental and physical detriment is being felt equally by those that take part.
When you are playing football every Saturday or Sunday and training midweek with a group of friends, the fun you have masks the benefits felt in the gym. The key word here is fun. You sweat, get worn out but you never feel like you have done an hour-long gym session. The entertainment brings a completely uplifting feeling, even if you lose, you might go to the pub after, and you come back together in the week for training and still enjoy being part of the team.
I am sure I can speak on behalf of others as well as myself when I say motivation levels are at an all-time low during lockdown
This lockdown is destined to have clear physical impacts. Just this week my own football manager messaged the group chat to say make sure we were all keeping fit, something I know I have not done, and I know the rest of the team have not either. In the week we have been in lockdown I have done absolutely nothing and am scared to get back into the gym knowing how embarrassingly weak I am going to be, and how unfit I will be in the first game back.
It is true that there are still things you can do; by law you can have 1:1 personal training sessions outside, you can go on a run, and you can exercise on your own in the park or at home. However, I am sure I can speak on behalf of others as well as myself when I say motivation levels are at an all-time low during lockdown. This is the worst possible outlook to have but ultimately my want to go on a run on my own is far less than my want to go to the gym or play football with my friends.
The release you get through sport may have been put on hold, but with the news of a vaccine being on its way, it’s clear that even in the darkest of times, there is a light at the end of the tunnel
This all leads to a constant cycle of negative mental effects. Not only does the initial lockdown bring mental health down, but the inability to go out and release our energy, and all those endorphins, brings us down further. The lack of motivation to take part in the limited activities we can engage with makes this all even worse. The fact that we cannot see our friends makes lockdown massively hard for those even with the healthiest of mindsets. For those that struggle with mental health as it is, the impact of lockdown will be far greater felt.
The release you get through sport may have been put on hold, but with the news of a vaccine being on its way, it’s clear that even in the darkest of times, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
For all of us that enjoy sport, these restrictions will undoubtedly have detrimental effects. But, the month will be over, and a vaccine WILL be there for us when by this time next year (speak it into existence!), we will be filling stadiums and playing sport in a way we used to be able to.
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