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Coping with the absence of sports participation

Dr. Eddie O'Conner: 'it can be a tremendous loss'
Posted: 4:24 PM, Mar 16, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-16 19:18:57-04
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WYOMING, Mich — Some athletes have the lost the chance to play for a championship or start a new season.

Others have lost the chance to play on one the biggest stages imaginable.

"March Madness for example the opportunity to participate in the tournament can be a tremendous loss." Dr. Eddie O'Connor, Sports Psychologist with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, said. "Very much like a death of a loved one or when athletic injury occurs, the grief can be the same."

Copings with sports cancellations

Dr. O'Connor referenced sports as a major stress reliever for many. He says that it is important for athletes to stay active even if its not in the traditional sense.

"Maybe you can't do it at the gym or in the practice field or in groups, but you're still an athlete," Dr. Eddie O'Connor said. "You still have ways to keep yourself in shape. So maybe so much hasn't changed. Where can you hold on to that routine to stay in your comfort zone and actually use those things to get you through this."

While many athletes may struggle without their sport, their parents can struggle too. Many have invested a great deal in their child's activities and to be unable to see them perform and see them in pain (from missing their sport) can be difficult.

"I don't know that there's anything to do about it to make yourself feel better, other than understanding maybe most of all that the best thing we could do is model that coping, and emotional control, because our children of all ages, even willing to teens in college, they're going to still want to see that we're okay,"Dr. Eddie O'Connor said. "We're still their foundation. So how do we take care of ourselves, manage our stress, realistically, let them know and teach them how to handle crisis, stay calm under pressure. Maintain emotional control. If we're all stressed out and flipping out. We're not only not helping each
other, but we're certainly not helping our kids."

Dr. O'Connor is encouraging mental toughness, saying athletes should empathize with each other. He says this could be a time where feeling better isn't the goal, maybe they can have anxiety and experience stress.