Self-Motivation in Trying Times
Hi everyone. I’m Coach Rebecca and I am going to go live today to talk about motivation. I have been hearing from a lot of athletes’ parents, primarily, that motivation is starting to become a big struggle. I know right in the beginning of the shutdown there was disappointment and shock, and also, “Oh my gosh, we get to sleep in. This is kind of cool.” Then it went to, “Okay, I’m getting a little negative,” and then it started to get to the point where athletes are saying, “Well, what’s the point anyways? Why am I even doing this? I don’t even know when I’m going to get back to my sport.”
A lot of athletes are actually sinking into what we could call depression, so I wanted to talk to you a little bit about warning signs and then what to do to get your athlete moving again.
This made me think of this concept – a sports star dies twice – meaning they die once at their retirement and then they die again at their real death. This is something that you could see happening at a minor level, maybe even a major level, especially among athletes in their senior year in college or even their senior year in high school. It’s going to be hard on an athlete who was having the best season of their life and it was cut short or an athlete who had just been coming back from rehab from an injury. Here they are, ready to hit the ice again, ready to hit the mat again, and they can’t train.
I know a couple of girls in the PerformHappy Community who were making great progress overcoming their mental blocks, or they had just gotten all their skills, and they were ready for the state meet and it’s closed.
Big Change in Plans
So what is someone to do when their whole plan is out the window? Here they are, isolated. What humans do in this situation is they start to go inward. Here are some warning signs that your athlete might be slipping into depression or you even just losing motivation in a way that’s going to be potentially harmful for them.
Change in Sleeping Patterns
One warning sign is they don’t want to get up. Maybe they are staying up later and then sleeping later or they’re not getting enough sleep. Maybe they are not sleeping well. If they’re not getting their nine to ten hours, that’s not ideal. It’s also going to affect energy if their sleep is impacted. Sleep is very important. Always. If there’s anxiety, there’s a motivation issue. If there are energy issues, you always want to start with sleep.
Some people are just eating because they’re bored. Some are eating because they’re used to eating a certain amount, but they’re not training and they’re also not getting the nutrition in their bodies that is going to be really useful for them. So keep an eye on nutrition and what they are putting in their bodies.
Increase in Negativity
Your athlete might have been thinking, “Yay! I get to sleep in! This is cool. I’ve never had free time in my life. What hobby would I even like to have?” But then they get to the point where there’s a shift. Now they’re thinking, “Oh, I don’t want to do another thing on the computer. I’m so sick of the computer. I don’t feel like doing that conditioning today. I’ll do it tomorrow.” Or they’re just starting to lose momentum on certain things.
A lot of athletes are wanting to check out. I know that this happens to me. I’m sure it happens to all of you parents out there where you kind of want to check out. You might be thinking, “You know what? This is too much. I can’t deal with this, so I’m just going to pull out my phone and do a little scrolling.”
But what happens is that becomes an increasing source of negativity. So now you have this negativity snowball that’s going downhill and they’re not moving. They’re not getting the right kind of sleep, not getting the right nutrition, and you’re wondering, “What is happening to my kid?” It can be very devastating.
There are three ways of dealing with a situation like this.
An example of victim mode would be, “Why is this happening to me? This is not fair. This was supposed to be my X, Y, and Z. I don’t want to deal with this,” and usually that’ll send you into thinking, “What’s the point anyway?” Because you feel like you have no control. You feel hopeless like this thing is spinning out of control. “I don’t know how to handle this. I don’t like it. I didn’t pick this, so I’m just going to be sad and I’m not dealing.” That’s the victim mentality.
This is usually the athlete who says, “I’m okay. I’m fine, mom. It’s ok,” but you can tell they’re weighed down by it. You can tell they’re not being honest. You might even be in this position where you’re probably more susceptible to negativity, so the second you pull up the news, you’re crushed back into that “we’re going to run out of money and everything’s going to be horrible” state of mind, and you have to dig yourself back out of it.
You get the anxiety so fast if you’re just surviving. You’re delicately “ok” until anything snaps you out of it, and then you’re like, “Blah, it’s not going to be okay,” and this is where a lot of our athletes are. They’re trying. It’s where a lot of us are. We’re like, “It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay… oh my gosh, is it going to be okay? Maybe it’s not going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.”
It’s a very hard place to be. I can feel my anxiety just talking about that.
Then there’s the third choice. This is the mindset that I would love for all of us to take on. A champion mindset means you see nothing but opportunity. You’re thinking, “Oh my gosh, all of the ailments will heal. I have never had a day without pain in five years. I don’t have to have all that impact happening.”
You’re excited about what this will mean for you physically, mentally, and spiritually. Your family will grow in ways that they never have before. You’re going to be able to come together. You’re going to have gratitude. You’re resilient. You know that the hard parts about this are just an opportunity for you to rise to what you’re made of, and you see this as a killer opportunity to get your strength up so that when you go back, when practice does happen, you are ready.
You’re excited, you’re happy. You’re actually the one who’s creating the community, and you’re the one who’s saying, “Hey! Let’s get on Zoom and do a workout today. I’ll lead it.” You are the one who is expressing gratitude. “Mom, it’s so nice to see you!” So often that’s the attitude that we want to have all the time, right? And there’s nothing like a crisis to bring out the champions.
So here’s the problem. Humans are designed for interpersonal contact. We need to feel like we belong. We need to feel like we’re a part of something. We need to feel like people like us and want us, and we need physical touch. So how do we do that when we can’t? That lack of connection, that increase in isolation, can lead to negativity, loss of motivation, and depression even in normally mentally healthy people.
This isn’t just the stress case athletes, this is every single human affected by isolation if they don’t plan for it and if they don’t prepare. So you have to stay ahead of it and get yourself into that champion mindset.
Now, here are some of the biggest mistakes that people are making right now.
Not Having a Plan
This is assuming that you’re just going to white knuckle until the earth opens up again and then everything will be fine again. Well, here’s the thing. We never know how the world is going to go. We never know if there’s going to be a state meet. I have a friend who said, “Rebecca, you could get hit by a bus at any time. So what are you doing today to express the gratitude for the life that you live?” That’s where this situation can uniquely create a life that you’re meant to have. Because if we’re always in this mindset of, “Well, when this gets fixed, I’ll be okay. When I get this skill, I’ll be happy. When the earth opens up, I’ll be okay,” or, “When my job this,” or, “When my money that,” you can’t live that way and you definitely can’t live that way right now.
You have to be fiercely committed to being okay in this moment, in this situation, before you’ll ever be able to be truly happy and truly thriving in any situation. You can’t not have a plan. You have to be planning for the present, not planning for the future.
“Ugh, I don’t feel like doing that today. I think I have a sore throat. I think I have the Corona, I can’t exercise right now.” No, you do it. You do a little, and you do the best that you can because every time you push it aside, you’re allowing the negativity to come in and take over and you’re not getting those happy chemicals that flow with exercise.
Make Yourself a Priority
A lot of us, especially very active athletes, we actually need the physical movement just to get the happy chemicals flowing. A couple of days without exercise and we are not ourselves. That has to be a priority. You cannot procrastinate on moving your body. If that means you wake up, you put something on, you throw your hair in a ponytail, you get out of your pajamas and you go outside and you do 50 jumping jacks, then that’s what you do.
You have to move your body. There can be no procrastination on moving your body.
Losing Connection With Your Sport
A lot of the time when you get brought down by a situation like this, you don’t even want to think about it. It’s similar to my athletes who are struggling with mental blocks – they don’t even want to see that video of them tumbling because it makes them sad. That’s the opposite of what we need to be using that for. Use that to show you the hope and to get connected and get excited.
Allow Yourself to Be Present
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, I posted a couple of days ago about an athlete named Marilyn King, who I cannot stop talking about right now. She had seven months out of training immediately before the Olympic trials because she was in a car wreck and she broke her back. Seven months, no training. All she did was mental training. She stayed positive, she stayed excited, she stayed connected to her sport. She practiced imagery, which is something that I am going big time, full-on right now in my community. Marilyn never lost hope. She knew, “I will go out there at Olympic trials and I will be in the top three.” She got second place with zero physical training and seven months off because she never lost hope.
This is critical! She had to exist in her body during those seven months. Listen – we have to be present and be okay in this moment, in this situation, no matter what’s happening for you, there’s just really no other way.
Decreasing Level of Physical Activity
This is a mistake a lot of athletes will make. I know you can’t necessarily train six hours a day if you were an elite two a day athlete, but go for a run! The amount of physical exercise is going to pay off big time in mental and physical health, so prioritize it.
Taking the Negative Path
If you start to go with the negative path automatically, it’s building those pathways into your brain in a way that is habitual and it’s sort of permanent. Until you make the effort to switch it, it will stay that way, so anything that’s starting to shift to a negative trajectory right now is going to be wiring itself into your brain. If you don’t make a concerted effort to get back to positive or at least neutral right now and be very disciplined about it, you’re going to have to.
When you go back, you’re going to be excited at first. “Yay, we’re back in the gym and training,” but you are bummed out habitually because your brain is used to thinking everything is not on your side, thinking, “I’m a victim and I can’t believe this is happening,” and, “Of course she’s getting her skills before I do because isn’t this just my luck?”
Prepare for Your Return
So we have to change the mindset now, not only so you don’t end up miserable for the next however many months, but so you can seamlessly emerge back into whatever life is when that happens.
So think about it. Do you want to be more motivated and inspired right now? Do you need something? Are you feeling, “Oh yes, I want to be, but I’m just not.”
Then, what is self-motivating you right now? What is it that’s getting you up, that’s getting the hair in a ponytail and getting that T-shirt on and getting you upside down again and getting you logging into Zoom for 47 Zoom meetings? What is it? That’s the thing that we need to grow. Maybe it’s that you love your sport, you love your friends, you love your coaches. Whatever that teeny little thing is that gets you moving, you have to love on that big time.
Now here’s what you need to do to get yourself out of the hole. Here are my suggestions:
You should have daily connections and accountability with trusted people who understand what you’re going through. That means it’s not just you whining to your mom all the time, it means you are talking to athletes who are in your same exact situation, who also lost their season, who also feel like they’re getting fat, so you all can jam on it and vent together. Whatever it is, whatever your situation is, day by day, you have to have daily connections and accountability with those people who get you.
It’s best to not have a parent-child relationship where it’s constantly nag, nag, nag, nag, nag. “You should do your workout, you should do this thing. If you don’t do this, then I’m going to…” and then it’s like you’re forcing and you’re punishing and nobody feels good. Then, of course, everybody’s motivation is down and parents are like, “I don’t even care. Fine, waste away into a noodle for all I care. I have to go work on zoom.”
That’s not the solution, and that’s why we are offering some one-on-one coaching to help take that off of the parent. We have a few spots available with our coaches right now that can help allow the athlete to have that moment of grief to talk about whatever it is that’s happening, or to say, “I’m not sad. I didn’t have my skills and this was a relief.” Whatever experiences that they’re having, it’s great to have them in a neutral environment.
Then, we set up the plan, we set up an accountability plan. The PerformHappy community is specifically set up so that athletes can have that daily check-in. We’re doing challenges every week and we meet every single day except for Sundays (some Saturdays we take off). We meet every day and we have a new challenge, a new motivation, a new exercise, a new activity. Most importantly, we’re coming together to bring a little structure to their day.
So if it’s not us, that’s fine, but get your athlete in touch with somebody neutral who’s not going to be the nag, but who’s going to be able to help them air out some of what’s happening.
Maintaining a Useful Mindset
You have to have diligent work on maintaining a useful mindset. Diligent meaning if you start to go down the negativity path, have a plan to pull it back, have a plan to refocus, have a plan to get grateful.
Last week we did a challenge called a happiness challenge. It was all about gratitude, kindness, putting out good things, forgiving. All of our challenges are in the PerformHappy community for members to use because we have to have exercises on motivation. We’re working on anxiety this week, so anybody who’s dealing with the anxiety of, “Oh my gosh, am I ever going to get back to where I was?” That’s what we’re going to dig into, also getting courageous and being able to pull ourselves up during hard things and become better.
So make sure that you are working diligently at keeping your mind the best, the most positive that it can possibly be and get yourself out of the victim, out of the survivor, and into the champion mode where you are looking at the situation where you can say thank you. “Thank you for my health. Thank you for this opportunity. Let’s go get better.”
If you are interested, like I said, we don’t have a whole lot of room for new clients but we do have some space. If you want to give it a try and see if your athlete resonates with me or one of our coaches, you can click here to schedule a free consultation. We will chat, we’ll see if it feels like a good fit, and then we can set up a couple of sessions just to get you back on track and take it from there.
If you have any questions, you can reach out to me, Rebecca@performhappy.com. I’m here for you. This is a critical time, so don’t let the negativity and depression take your sweet, precious child.