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ARTICLE & WEBINAR: Mental Health Tips for Climbers on Lockdown

Madeleine Crane is a sport psychologist (M.Sc.), systemic coach and founder and CEO of Climbing Psychology. In this article and webinar video she shares some tips for cooped-up climbers on lockdown...


Who would have thought a few months, or even only weeks ago, that the novel coronavirus would hit us this hard? Who could have foreseen that all gyms and even some outdoor areas would close down and people would be recommended to spend most of their time at home?

Madeleine Crane shares coping strategies for lockdown.  © UKC Articles
Madeleine Crane shares coping strategies for lockdown.

All of these measures are absolutely necessary to stop spreading the virus and protect people who are more vulnerable. However, being stuck inside is a big mental challenge, particularly for climbers who are used to spending a lot of time outdoors, moving around all the time and going climbing in every spare minute. For many of us, this lock-down might feel particularly hard.

Here are some useful tips to stay "sane" at home and to make the best of the situation:

  • Keep your daily structure. Structure is really helpful against chaos – and that's pretty much the best description of what's happening at the moment. Structure can help to give us security. It can really help us to better deal with stressful situations.

Our daily structure is comparable to a ritual (you might already use rituals for climbing, when e.g. competing, projecting, training). For our quarantine, a daily ritual would be e.g. not to stay in your pyjamas, but to get up like always, get dressed, have your normal food ritual. Work as normal from home if possible, or if you're a student, try to study as you normally would.

  • Exercise is like magic for our mental health and well-being. If you can, try to move regularly. Go for walks or cycle outside if it's safe and you're allowed. You can also do some exercises at home – there are so many vlogs, training videos and recommendations out there, regardless of whether you have a hangboard, a yoga mat etc. at home or not.

There are really good online training tools and videos: check out Lattice, Dave McLeod, Nina Williams, My Therapy Physio and many more. Or get a coach or trainer that can support your physical training.

Make some time to move at home. Try to make it a challenge to get aching muscles… !

  • Make sure you consume media consciously. Try to focus on the facts. Don't believe everything you read or hear. In such insecure times, it's easy to get lost on social media and to scroll endlessly through. However, this behaviour is neither helpful nor productive.

If you instead concentrate on only the facts, it can help you overcome negative, overwhelming feelings. Serious and clear information gives us orientation and security. So please avoid unrestricted media consumption!

Take breaks during the day where you put your phone aside and do something else.

  • Social distancing doesn't mean being totally deprived of social contacts. We are really lucky to live in such a digital world and be connected with family and friends from afar. Having social contacts is incredibly important for our mental health, well-being.… and well, our sanity. So make a few video calls instead. Call your friends and family. And when talking to your family or friends, make sure what you talk about is not only negative, but focus on the positive instead. For example, ask them what their highlight of the day was. What did they enjoy the most?

  • Generally, always a good tip: Try to focus on the positive. Is there any opportunity in this crisis? Is there anything you can learn from this? What can you focus on now that you normally might not have the time for? Is there anything new you can learn in this period?

  • Most importantly, remember that this virus is temporary. It will eventually pass. Try to make the most of the situation, invest in yourself, do things that make you feel better. You can also already start planning what you want to do once this is over. Do you want to go on a climbing trip?

  • Last but not least, however you use this time – whether you train a lot, learn something new, invest time in yourself, clean up your apartment, work on your mental strength or just relax and do nothing – do what feels best for you. You don't HAVE TO train. You don't HAVE TO be your strongest. You don't HAVE TO learn something new. Don't feel pressured to "use this time well". It's also OK to feel overwhelmed and stressed, or to be lazy sometimes. Do what's best for you, listen to yourself and your needs, and don't force anything. Mindfully ask yourself what you need and regularly "check in" with yourself. If you feel like this situation is overwhelming, consider talking to a professional about your feelings – don't be afraid to "let it out" as this might be what you need to calm down again.

Watch a free webinar on this topic with Madeleine:

Climbing Psychology Madeleine Crane is founder and CEO of Climbing Psychology. Book an online appointment with Madeleine.

UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Madeleine Crane



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25 Mar

Great article.

<<You don't HAVE TO train. You don't HAVE TO be your strongest. You don't HAVE TO learn something new. Don't feel pressured to "use this time well".>> I’m embracing this advice wholeheartedly. This might change over time, might have to buy a fingerboard eventually!

Being off work till Easter, I’ve got nothing to do and so am doing nothing, other than posting on here, following the news and going for short walks in the flatlands of Suffolk. Might even read a book.

Feel sorry for the self employed in the outdoor industry and elsewhere, who have a lot more to worry about than not being able to go climbing. Hopefully they will get some support soon.

25 Mar

Positive thinking:

Great for lingering finger, hand and elbow injuries

Pistol squat skills are now epic

25 Mar

Thanks for thinking to publish this. I'm not sure it quite ticks my personal boxes, but it's helpful to know others are also struggling with the indefinite lockdown.

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