Sport continues to be under lockdown and according to research by Uganda Olympics Committee (UOC)’s medical commission, the uncertainty is taking its toll on players’ mental health.
Head of the commission Dr. Nana Nakiddu, shared in a Zoom meeting held last Saturday to discuss how athletes can keep active during lockdown that players are likely to suffer from “anxiety, depression or mood disorders, sleep disturbance, substance abuse and eating disorders because Covid-19 has not only had impact on training but on thoughts and ultimately mental health.”
After her presentation, World 800m women champion Halimah Nakaayi, said that some of her colleagues have failed to train due to the cancellation of their events and would need counselling to revive their mental strength.
Previously in these pages, swimming coach Muzafaru Muwanguzi, had also warned that cancelling of major events would expose athletes who had prepared to take part in them to mental depression.
The commission, in their research, reached out to 22 players from athletics, swimming, football and kickboxing during this month.
“Half of that number did not respond while nine said they had had psychological and mental disturbances,” Nakiddu, a retired national swimmer, said. Two said they have sailed through the period just fine thus far.
Five of these reported anxiety issues that range from pressure to overthinking about being in a strict environment.
“Fear, worry and stress are normal but during this period they have heightened because of the new realities which include failing to train, unemployment, lack of physical contact with teammates among others,” she continued.
Athletes, however, have the arsenal to tap into to deal with mental health. They just have to dig deeper within. “We are trained to be mentally tough, resilient and determined to be successful in our sports disciplines so in this period, we need to apply some of those sports skills to come out of this period stronger,” Nakiddu urged.
Beyond reprogramming their mindsets, coming back stronger will, however, take a lot more work as fitness and nutrition expert Dr. Andrew Etuket explained.
“It is very possible to get fit and work on your strength or power from home but you have to work repeatedly with intensity,” Etuket warned.
“Intensity is bringing your best self before every workout and that starts with sleeping well (at least seven and a half hours) to help your muscles recover.
Also remember that you cannot do the same thing always so you have to vary the exercises depending on your goals. Our bodies easily adapt and will plateau if you do the same thing over a long period of time.”