Sport and exercise in general are known to boost your mood. But, despite liking sport, I have struggled to keep up an exercise regime during the lockdowns. This has impacted my mental health and my perception of my body image. I realised the reason for this was because I didn’t have the social contact that a team sport gives me. Although I had the time to exercise, I didn’t want to because it was not the type of activity I enjoyed.
I’ve participated in team sports since I was young, mainly because of PE lessons and then the sports clubs I joined. I loved playing netball in secondary school and then when I came to university, I started playing korfball. These sports are similar in the way they are played, but for me the biggest (and most important) similarity is that they are team sports.
Team sports were beneficial to my mental health and wellbeing for various reasons:
- Socialising. Within a team, you make friends with the other members; training sessions then become an opportunity to socialise as well as to practise for competitions or events. A training session doesn’t feel like just a workout; it’s a catch-up, a social experience.
- Common goals. If you are part of a team that plays in matches, leagues or tournaments, you have a group around you who all want to succeed and you can all work together to achieve this. Other people may not understand why the competition is so important to you, but your teammates will.
- Learning from others. Having the opportunity to train with others means you can help each other out in different aspects of the game. You may be better at one part of gameplay and someone else might be able to perform another skill better than you, but because you are on the same team, you will want to share your knowledge and help each other out.
These interactive aspects I greatly missed and continue to miss, whilst we continue not to be able to practise organised sport. This has made balancing my time quite difficult, as I just work all day and have nothing physical to break up the monotony of sitting in front of a computer. Training sessions gave a great opportunity to run off any stress or pent up energy, and to clear your head for a little while by focusing on the sport. This was hugely beneficial to my own mental health, as I wasn’t overthinking or stressing all the time, as I had these times to distract myself, do something I loved and talk with my friends.
I truly miss my training sessions, matches and competitions with korfball, so much so that when the roadmap for the end of lockdown was announced, I was more focused on when I could next play with my team rather than when I could go to a nightclub. The hope that soon we can resume activity is keeping me going and giving me something to look forward to. Korfball has been a key part of my university experience and not being able to play for so long has been very hard. I can’t wait to get back to my favourite sport, whilst simultaneously improving my mental health and wellbeing.