I have just finished a virtual call with my family. I think it was the first time all of us had been in one place since Christmas 2002. It was brilliant to hear stories of what people are currently going through. Some taking the current situation in their stride, but others were struggling. They were struggling with the loneliness, the isolation and living with their own thoughts that lead them to think of the worst. However, on the call they got the opportunity to talk about what their world was like. They had a space for people to listen, to empathise and offer real support. Those anxious feelings seemed to slip away, even for just the hour on the call. It highlighted to me the true meaning of staying connected, listening and sharing.
Mikel Arteta was quoted in BBC sport talking about how people should be “emotionally more open”. He states, "We are in a world here where everything is social media, everything is a WhatsApp text but how important is touching each other, feeling each other and hugging each other? I miss that with a lot of the people I love. We have to be emotionally more open. We have to tell each other what we are feeling." He is right in stated that we do need to express how we are feeling especially in times of uncertainty and unknowns for everyone.
We are normally surrounded by our teammates, coaching staff and a host of other people that we connect with on a daily basis. The quality of those relationships will vary but as humans we rely on human connection for not just our performance but our wellbeing. Think of those you do have a quality relationship with. Whether its family, friends or someone from your team. Do you feel connected to what their world really is like right now? I propose you take the time to find out.
Reach out to others and don’t just text. Make it face to face using whatever platform is best. When we can see others faces and body language, we feel at ease and can be more open emotionally. That’s why smiles are contagious.
When you do have a conversation with someone, really listen to what their world is like. The usual response to give is that everything is fine or okay. Ask again. Allow people the space to talk about what’s going on for them personally. Don’t jump in at any point or listen for a gap to speak, listen to understand. You don’t have to be able to give advice, but by just listening you are making a difference. By helping and listening to others, you lower your own stress levels. Sharing how we are really feeling also lets our stress levels to lower, we feel more supported, more connected and we get a stronger sense of belonging and togetherness. Be the one to reach out don’t wait for them to do it.
Though as a team you may be apart, it is actually the perfect time to bring people together. Opportunity to be in this together. When we feel we are part of something greater than ourselves, its boosts our happiness, lowers our stress levels and we feel supported. Talk about the positives for the team rather than focussing on the negatives in the current environment. We are all human not matter our role on a team. At Eclipse we use the phrase notice, decide and ask. Notice what is needed for others and yourself. Decide what action is needed. Then do the part ask.
We are experts in well-being and performance and partner with elite sport teams to develop these areas. Check out our website for more.
Stuart Kelly is a Performance Psychology Consultant at Eclipse. You can connect with him here.