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College Athletes, Performers Feeling Sidelined in Pandemic

Workers returning to office wearing masks

THURSDAY, Aug. 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- For many young people, extracurricular activities and sports are a central part of their daily lives and identities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students now feel uprooted.

With sports programs on hold, theater productions canceled and choirs muted, campus life may feel drastically different.

"If you're in the marching band or you're the varsity football quarterback, whatever it is that you're involved in, your investment in what you're doing is very high," said James Houle, a sports psychologist at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. "And to think that your participation in those activities can be compromised in any way feels very scary."

In a university news release, Houle offered some advice to struggling students:

Stay present. Staying present can help subdue anxiety that results from the uncertainty of the future. Concentrating on the moment brings greater happiness and control, according to Houle.

Shift your focus. This requires accepting that some things are uncontrollable, but you can control how you react. For student athletes who can no longer engage in their regular sport, solo workouts may help them fill the void and meet their goals.

Seek connections. This can help students feel supported and understood. Talking with a peer may help someone realize that they are not alone in their struggles. Coaches, parents and counselors are also important resources.

"If you notice changes in your sleep pattern, appetite or general anxiousness, it's important to speak with a counselor who can help you find ways to cope," said Houle.

Sports teams at Ohio State have continued to meet virtually, Houle said. He and his team of sports psychologists often join these meetings to offer their support.

More information

There's more about playing sports during the COVID-19 pandemic at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, news release, Aug. 5, 2020
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