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Mental Health

Sports: A tool against negativity amid COVID-19

How to stay positive and keep negativity at bay even in these difficult times? The answer is sports.

Sports: A tool against negativity (Source: Indian cricket team)

The Indian cricket team (Source: Indian cricket team)


Dr. Kanishka Pandey

Published: 20 May 2021 7:59 AM GMT

Covid-19 has brought the world to its knees. The pandemic though affected India last year too but this year, the implications have been huge. The situation is of immense panic and bedlam all around. Covid doesn't only seem to be the burning topic but the only topic of discussion. The worst part is a discussion on it doesn't relax your mind, rather it further enhances the state of panic and negativity.

This unprecedented situation has not only lacerated its population physically but has taken a toll on psyche and mentality. The number of mental health cases has been on the rise. Issues of anxiety, fear, stress, negativity etc. are increasing. Not only this, one of the major problems, the people who have recovered from this illness are facing is that depression. One in three Covid 19 survivors in a study of more than 2,30,000 mostly American patients were diagnosed with mental health-related issues. This is a major cause of worry and concern but it's something that will not make the headlines as of now. We need to be prepared and brace ourselves to the fact that this is yet another pandemic in the making.

The question that needs to be answered is what is the solution? Having identified the problem, what is the way out? How to stay positive and keep negativity at bay even in these difficult times? The answer is sports. Sports is something which is very effective in creating positive emotions. It can be a very effective tool in keeping the mind distracted from other issues.

Dozens of studies have established the fact that sports can play a very crucial role in the time of pandemic. Seton Hall Sports Poll in the USA found that 33% cited that sports had a beneficial impact on their own mental health whereas more than 73% of sports fans said that watching Sports had a positive impact on their mental health. Studies have also shown that watching the favorite team play releases the feel-good hormone and instills positive thinking.

Not only this, a study conducted last year in different covid hospitals of Ghaziabad and Lucknow clearly established the therapeutic value of sports. It proved how watching sports channels, helps relieve fear, anxiety, stress and provides much-needed relief from negativity brought by the pandemic.

A still from the 2021 UEFA Champions League semifinal

Just like football has provided a necessary relief against the dampening corona crisis in Europe, a cricket frenzy nation- India can find a bit of positivity in cricket (or any other Sport based on an individual's choice). Watching sports can provide a healthy distraction as the focus on the game or players helps let go of fear and stress. In times when people are reeling under the pressure of the pandemic and are yearning for something positive, watching sports can be an effective tool to achieve this, as the studies have already established how watching your favourite team play releases endorphins which can effectively raise your mood.

The mental fatigue and hopelessness created by Covid-19 need to be checked and the negative trend needs to be corrected at the earliest. If not, it can have very damaging repercussions for the future. Therefore, it's high time when people should start devoting a little more time towards sports channels at present and on the longer run, we should focus on increasing sports participation which can strengthen our character, personality & mental health. It will not only make our citizens physically fitter but also mentally stronger and make us better equipped to handle such negative situations.

About the author

Dr. Kanishka Pandey is the Head of Sports Research Centre at IMT Ghaziabad; President of Sports: A Way of Life. He is an independent academic research for 3 years on sports to gauge its implication on physical and mental fitness of an individual and how it helps in building the character. It identifies 16 values that are earned in a playground and which can help an individual in overcoming the most traumatic and difficult situations.

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