As a skier or snowboarder, you have an advantage during this pandemic time. Plenty of people avoid the discomfort that comes with uncertainty, risk and fear, but not you. You wanted it.

You worked hard for the sense of accomplishment that comes with getting better at what you love. Improving, building your confidence, composure and skills. It’s what got you addicted to the sport in the first place – speed, risk, fear, adrenaline and challenge.

The never-ending process of becoming a better skier demands we adapt to different snow and weather conditions. We need to persevere through bumps, steeps, powder, ice and crud.

We accept we’re going to fall over so it’s a given we’re going to get back up.

AND, You are good at getting back up. Remember that.

Right now, during the Covid-19 crisis, we are seeing the effects of widespread fear and uncertainty. Fear can paralyse and, with uncertainty and change, fear is magnified. But you have a choice and you can rise to the challenge.

Take a moment to reflect on a particularly tough or challenging day you had on snow. A day or time you really had to overcome and push through something tough. It might be the day you fell a hundred times trying to master that bump run. Or the fear you had to overcome to take on something really steep.

As a skier or snowboarder, you actually have plenty of these “reference points” tucked away. When life throws up a challenge, your reference points allow you to look back and say “I did that, so I can get through this.”

Reference points give you confidence. No matter how bad things get, you know you can get through. Thats resilience.

But first, you need to know your coping mechanisms. Can you adjust to the circumstances that brings on stress? What can you adjust and can you turn adversity into advantage?

You can adjust to change. You may not like it but forming new, healthy habits can drive your performance and wellbeing during these times. The effects are magnified when change is forced upon you, like now.

People are creatures of habit. Craving a sense of security is normal, particularly when our lives are drastically altered.

So creating healthy habits are even more important.

How to form healthy habits

Adjusting your expectations and forming healthy habits can help you buffer adversity. But change is not easy.

Think about your day. You wake at the same time, check your phone, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, have a coffee, commute to work, day in, day out, the same routine.

So, if our day is filled with habitual behaviour, why is it so hard to form new, healthy habits?

Because we over-reach. We expect too much. We expect change overnight. If you want to make healthy choices a habit and create a positive shift in your life, get specific and go easy.

Break a big goal into tiny actions.

Make one small change at a time. Build your confidence through success. Once a habit has been established and becomes effortless, you can start on the next.

Rewarding and celebrating your new, healthy habits can also help those habits stick.

What habits will help me cope with change?

Think of them as the four Wellbeing Pillars – physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Then think of different healthy habits that will help you build resilience and tackle tough times.

Physical may be aerobic exercise, resistance training, high intensity interval training, stretching, sleep and healthy nutrition – all things that can be achieved within your home.

With emotional you want to consider mindfulness, visualisation, breathing, positive talk, journaling and reflection. Again, things that can be practiced at home.

For social it’s important to feel connected. This may come through hobbies, fun, humour and mentors, and in these times, it may come through online programs such as Zoom.

Practicing gratitude, helping others, humility, kindness, compassion and empathy will help the spiritual pillar.

10 steps to make your habits stick

  1. Know your why

Know your aspiration and have a vision of what it looks like when achieved. I want to feel calmer so I can get through the day in peace because it keeps me grounded. I want to feel more positive so I can connect with my children. Whatever you want, understand why you want it.

  1. Belief

Find a good behaviour to match your why. It may be daily meditation, it may be daily gratitude, it may be daily yoga. Believe you can do it.

  1. Want it

Be prepared to invest time and energy and remember what you want and why.

  1. Repeat

Now perform that behaviour daily, after five days, 80 percent of people start to build the habit, keep it up longer and it will become second nature.

  1. Small steps

Achieve early and build slowly, perform to your capability and break the behaviour habits into small actions. That way you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment rather than failure.

  1. Cues and triggers

Use reminders to practice the habit, maybe have a visual cue to help initiate action (a post it note on the door) or link the behaviour to an existing habit (do yoga at the end of a run you do daily already) to help make the habit effortless.

  1. Time

Allow at least two months to embed the habit and remember habits form faster when we do them more often.

  1. Accountability

Use measures and monitoring techniques. You might share your goals with friends, record it in your diary, make yourself accountable.

9. Coaching and mentoring

Seek support from trusted sources to help support you through. If you’re giving up smoking or wanting to focus on your financial prowess, then employ coaches who can help you.

  1. Reward

Use delayed gratification to celebrate your success and feel good about your progress. Once I reach five days without a cigarette I shall go to my favourite restaurant, after a month of yoga I will book in for a massage. Goals and rewards that you can work towards.

Remember, you have the power to change your response to change. It takes practice and commitment, but you can do it.

Nick Farr is running Coping with Crisis virtual coaching series for businesses in Covid crisis.

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