Kamila Tan: Maintaining Your Athlete’s Mental Wellness During an Ever-Changing Time

Last Tuesday, we had a live Q&A webinar with Health and Wellness Coach, Kamila Tan on helping your athlete cope with the uncertainties of return to play.

 

Meg: Given that this is a highly anxiety-provoking time for young athletes, we are seeing in our interactions with athletes that a lot of them are struggling with anxiety about returning to sport or their sport not being the same after all of this.

Kamila: 

  • This time is temporary. As we transition out of quarantine and to more freedoms, remind ourselves that this time is temporary and that we need to be patient. 
  • Develop healthy coping skills. Self-soothing skills such as a hot shower, artwork, painting, cooking, and/or other ways to engage the senses. Also, learning to utilize breathwork is a powerful tool to manage anxiety. 
  • Develop other talents and interests. Develop the whole well-rounded athlete through artwork, music, and/or reading books. Your athlete may find other forms of movement that bring them joy such as bike riding, walks, hiking, or yoga. These engage different movement systems than volleyball and are important for injury prevention. 
  • Validate your child’s emotions through this process. They may feel a loss of freedom, control, and community. Validating their emotions lets them know that they’re safe and cared for. It will help your child process what they’re feeling. 
  • Create a routine for your child! That will give them control and safety. 

 

Meg: Many athletes that we’ve talked to are struggling with body-image. What tools would you recommend to parents with an athlete struggling with a negative body image?

Kamila

  • Embrace body changes during this time. Negative body image is exasperated when we feel out of control and out of our routines. It’s inevitable that with routine change, our bodies may change. If there’s distress around that, validate the distress from your child. Let them know that their bodies will continually change. 
  • Encourage intuitive nutrition and intuitive movement. Encourage your athlete to honor their hunger and fullness cues. Our bodies will tell us when we’re hungry and full. It’s important to have positive affirmations about what our bodies can do for us and embrace function over form. Our bodies allow us to work out, eat delicious food, and protect us. The body will adapt back to normal shape and fitness level when play resumes. 
  • Listen to your child when they talk about body image. The underlying feeling that your child is talking about could be correlated with another emotion that they may have a hard time putting into words. 
  • Be aware that bodies react differently to stress. Talk to your athlete about cultivating self-compassion and not blaming their body for how it’s reacting to stress. Be mindful rather than judgmental. All bodies are good bodies. What’s important right now is overall health. Your athlete will get back to training full force soon!

 

Meg: With social media as one of the only outlets right now, how does it impact our younger athletes?

Kamila: 

  • Encourage them to follow accounts that uplift them and give a positive message. Some accounts can be very toxic, especially those about weight loss and dieting. An example of a great account is Melissa Humana Paredes
  • Remind your athlete that social media is not reality. It is important to shift away from comparisons because social media is a highlight reel. Everyone’s experiences and struggles during this time are not the same and comparing someone’s highlight reel to your real life is not realistic. 

 

Meg: What can a parent or coach do if they recognize a change in their athlete?

Kamila: 

  • Have an open dialogue. It’s very important in a family unit to have an open dialogue with their kids about the pandemic and how they’re feeling about their sport. This will give a window into their mind. 
  • Don’t have to navigate the hard conversations by yourself. Coaches and/or trainers can help open up dialogues about your athlete’s mental health. Also, it may be beneficial to have open communication lines with family and friends because you don’t know if someone in your network has gone through the same thing as your child. 
  • I’m here if you need me! If you are in need of counseling services for eating and exercise support, body-image support, anxiety, and depression support in an athletic context, please reach out to me at Beach Volleyball Consulting or through my website www.kamilatan.com.

 

Meg: What are some of your go-to apps, accounts, or resources that reinforce a healthy perspective on things?

Kamila: 

  • Headspace app. It’s great for meditation and free for the entire year. Range from five minutes to twenty minutes. I use it to shift my focus if I’m feeling a little down. 
  • National eating disorder association. A great resource for handouts and pamphlets. I use for resources for myself or others that I’m working with.
  • Follow body-positive social media accounts. If you check out the hashtag bodypositivity or bodypositive, you’ll find a lot of accounts that are shifting the focus away from having a specific body type or look and instead, honoring the body for how it looks naturally and how to fuel it properly. 

DO YOU NEED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR ATHLETE AS A PARENT, COACH, OR CLUB DIRECTOR? BOOK A ONE-TO-ONE SESSION WITH KAMILA TAN AND GET THE INSIGHT TO HELP MAKE YOUR ATHLETE(S) DREAMS A REALITY. ATHLETES LOOKING TO CONTINUE THEIR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SHOULD CONSIDER THE ACCELERATE PROGRAM AS AN INDIVIDUAL, SMALL GROUP, THROUGH OUR LABS, OR AS A CLUB. SERVICES

 

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