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Mental health and dealing with uncertainty

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

With many events and competitions postponed indefinitely, with no certain confirmation of when some will resume, this is likely to cause a significant amount of stress for athletes.

Covid-19 and lockdown can be scary and can affect our mental health. It’s normal for you to be finding things difficult during the pandemic, especially now we are in a second lockdown. While everyone’s experience is different, you may be feeling:

  • Worried or anxious about you own or other people’s health, as well as what the future will be like.

  • Angry or frustrated about the fact that you still can’t get back to normal life.

  • Sad about missing friends or family.

  • Tired-out or low, or struggling with motivation.

You have lived through a year of so much uncertainty and change. As we go into a second lockdown, you may be feeling exhausted, overwhelmed or worried. Even though things may be difficult for you right now, there are things you can do to support your wellbeing. And remember, you’re not alone.

There are several successful psychological strategies you can use to cope with stress or manage your mental health. These strategies may also be effective to help with the uncertainty caused by coronavirus.

  • Accept that feelings associated with stress and anxiety are normal responses to uncertainty.

  • Develop routine contact with family, friends, team-mates or coaches to talk about how you feel.

  • Maintain a sense of perspective (e.g. given the lockdown restrictions it may not be possible to maintain ‘typical’ levels of fitness).

  • Do the things that help you when you’re finding things difficult. This will be different for everyone – it could include things like doing exercise, watching a favourite film, reading a favourite book, cooking or baking, talking to friends, or drawing or writing.

  • Accept that some sources of uncertainty are outside of your control (e.g. when sporting events will be resumed, when physical distancing restrictions will be lifted).

  • Focus on what is within your control (e.g. exercising and training safely, seeing opportunities for personal development and growth, maintaining physical distancing but maintaining social interactions).

  • Pay attention to what you are feeling. It’s okay to be feeling a range of emotions right now.

  • Be kind and compassionate to yourself. You are still trying to figure this all out and get through this.


Further resources are available to support your mental health at this time. Below are

examples available:

If you are or someone you know is in distress or despair, call LIFELINE on 0808 8088000 or visit:

Samaritans is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for anyone struggling to cope. Call the free helpline on 116 123.

In crisis go to or contact the Emergency Department of your nearest general hospital if someone is in immediate danger. You can also contact the emergency services by calling 999 or 112.

Contact a local GP or GP out of hours service. A GP can give you advice and information on support available to you. has information on mental health and the supports and services in Northern Ireland.