Games Athletes Share their Lockdown Self-Care Practices
Coronavirus Anxiety: This new term ranks high on online searches in recent weeks, presumably searched for by anxious people looking for solutions to their growing fears.
Whether this anxiety stems from worrying about the virus itself, from financial stress, from stress about the uncertainty of the future, or from the stress of going insane in a 500 square foot apartment, the anxiety is real for many of us.
Enter the importance of self-care: In an Instagram post on March, 29, three-time CrossFit Games podium finisher Patrick Vellner wrote:
- “Make some time for self-care today. Turn off the TV. Stretch. Read a book. Go for a walk. Take a bath. Pet a dog. Bake a cake. Phone a friend. It’s easy to get low during times like this. Do something today that makes you happy. What is your go to when it comes to self-care?”
So, we took the question to Vellner and a handful of other CrossFit Games athletes:
- What is your go-to self-care activity during lockdown?
Vellner revealed not much has changed for him in terms of his self-care activities, except that he’s doing them more frequently than normal.
- “I try to take nice long dog walks, spend some time stretching and doing lots of reading,” Vellner told Morning Chalk Up. “Also trying to still be super consistent with my bed and wake times helps me feel good and stay productive.”
Down in Australia: 2019 CrossFit Games athlete and former college gymnast Lindsay Vaughan said everything has changed for her since the COVID-19 pandemic got real. And considering she and her husband Ehren Vaughan have been putting in 16 hour days turning their gym into a purely online business, self-care has become more important than ever, she explained.
In the past, Vaughan relied on one massage and one osteopathic treatment each week, and going for breakfast with friends every Saturday after training, as her primary self-care activities.
- “Massage and osteo have closed down. Restaurants have closed…and we aren’t allowed to meet up with friends anymore,” Vaughan said of her life in Australia. This has been particularly hard, as, “the social time does me so good,” she said.
What has been saving her are daily walks with a friend, which she is still allowed to do.
- “My daily activity level has decreased dramatically in the last weeks and I can really feel those effects. So I think one to two daily walks will (continue) to be very important for my mental and physical well-being,” said Vaughan, who was also caught performing the dance of a gymnastics floor routine in her living room on an Instagram story the other day, as a way to release the stress.
Ultimately, Vaughan admits her perspective has shifted in recent days to ensure she stays mentally and emotionally healthy: “I guess my self-care at the moment is focused more on keeping my sanity than on being an athlete,” she said.
Keep a schedule: New Zealand athlete Harriet Roberts, who qualified to her first CrossFit Games as an individual this year, said for her it’s all about keeping a schedule to hold her accountable.
- “Something along the lines of a weekly checklist of things I would like to achieve,” Roberts said, adding she also relies on relaxation time in her sauna, journaling and meditation via the Headspace app.
Over in Ireland: For two-time Irish National Champion and 2019 CrossFit Games athlete Emma McQuaid, self-care through this time has been about quality time with her partner.
- “I’m taking more time in the mornings with my partner to have breakfast together,” she said. Before the lockdown, she would train on an empty stomach because he was at work at 7:30 a.m., but now that he’s not at work, they’re enjoying the mornings together, which has made a positive impact on her emotional well-being.
Up in Canada: Not much has changed for 2019 CrossFit Games athlete Jeffrey Adler: “My go-to’s are still the same. I consider myself the nap king. A little afternoon nap will go a long way,” he said.
The same goes for the famous ginger-bearded Canadian and five-time Games athlete Lucas Parker. In fact, he’s loving this new normal.
- “I’m actually loving lockdown. I think my personality and personal preferences are perfectly suited to it,” he said. “Not much has changed. I just take a greater sense of pride and patriotism at doing my part to fight the pandemic from my apartment.”
As for his go-to self-care methods: “Home cooking. I have been enjoying taking more time to ensure the quality, content and connection with my food,” he said.
Parker also recommends sharing gratitude: “Before bed, I’ll tell my partner a few things that I am grateful for that day. It helps to offset the stress and shift the attention away from any negatives that might make it hard to get to sleep.”
Speaking of sleep: Four-time Games competitor, Australian James Newbury added: “My self-care starts with sleep. Always prioritize sleep.”
Sunlight, exercise and flotation therapy also play a big role for him, he said.
As for frontline workers: Emily Rolfe, a 2019 Games athlete who works full-time in the hospital as a medical radiation technologist. She admitted these past few weeks have been particularly stressful, making self-care that much more important.
- “We’re all working a lot to make up for those staff members who are in isolation after having contact with a COVID-19 patient. Work is a little bit stressful these days, just because there’s a lot more risk involved to us staff,” Rolfe said. Needless to say, “The (hospital) environment is kind of weird. On edge, I’d say.”
But this hasn’t changed her ultimate tried and true self-care practice: You guessed it. A good sweaty, CrossFit-style training session.
- “I find the best way to keep myself sane is to put my head down and train. It always makes me feel better,” she said.