Edmonton Psychologist | Mental Health In The Edmonton NHL Bubble

 

This is an interview conducted by Global News in Edmonton with Edmonton Psychologist John Stevenson.


Edmonton Psychologist Global News Mental Health In The NHL Bubble

[TRANSCRIPTION]

Edmonton Psychologist | Mental Health In The Edmonton NHL Bubble

Global News | HOST:

Well that was a little look inside of your Edmonton NHL bubble from statistician Ryan Moore who is currently inside that bubble. It’s a whole different experience for those truly making downtown their home away from family and friends facing many restrictions. And that can take a toll on mental health.

Joining us with some insight is John Stevenson health and performance psychologist.
Good morning John thanks for joining us.

John Stevenson | Edmonton Psychologist:

Good morning, thank you for having me on the show.

Global News | HOST:

Yeah it is feels like we are watching a science experiment from the outside as we this unfold and in many ways it is a science experiment. What are you keeping an eye out for as you watch these athletes and other people inside the bubble try to do their jobs. At the best of their ability while being cut off from everybody?

John Stevenson | Edmonton Psychologist:

Well I think the key, and I can only speak for the clients that I work with, it is interesting to you started off with the clip. The athletes that I work with the really ground themselves in a routine. And I think the key thing is mental toughness is what you choose to focus on.

And so I think the key thing is the focus on the things that you have direct control over. That’s what I am looking for is the athletes that have grounded themselves in a routine. It sounds cliché-ish you know, improvise and adapt, overcome and really keeping your focus on you know what you can do in the moment.

And keeping your focus on your job. I think initially for some of the guys you know, they didn’t know if their training was enough. But as they are getting more and more into this, they’re trusting their training. You know the training staff at the NHL level are amazing. Their doing everything that they can to make it as close as possible to normal.

So I know a lot of the. I work with a lot of goalies and so a lot of the goalie coaches again have had to adopt a new improvised with the situations. But the really try to do everything you know to make sure that the goalies are… the guys that I work with are prepared when the go into competition.

 

Global News | HOST:

What did you do with your athletes to get them prepared to go inside the bubble? Knowing not a lot of how about how it was going to work on the inside. How did you even get them ready to go in there?

 

John Stevenson | Edmonton Psychologist:

Well this is going to sound a little strange, but not much different than if they were going into training camp. You have what we call the performance wheel. So a lot of it is your physical training, your technical. And obviously for the technical part they couldn’t go on the ice but the tactical part.

We do a lot of vision training, so a lot of my athletes you know at home. The one thing about the Covid device, you know with Covid happening, there is a lot of athletes started doing training that they never done before. So a lot of mental training, mindfulness and breath work mental rehearsal.

So a lot of the work they did to really help them keep their focus on being prepared to go into that camp. A lot of the athletes, they just did a whole lot of different exercises you know, physically your body work, workouts to go into that camp if that makes sense.

 

Global News | HOST:

Sure. You know every single player on these teams is different. They may have different ways of blowing off steam or getting away from the game. But when you are living with your team inside a bubble a lot of those options are taken away. What advice are you giving your athletes to try to at least try to release some of the pressure?

 

John Stevenson | Edmonton Psychologist:

Will obviously they have their connection with their family. And I know a lot of my clients are doing that. Even though it is not face-to-face with their having that connection with their family. I know for several of my clients, they brought in a musical instrument with them.

That’s their way of blowing off steam. I know again, this may sound cliché-ish, but a lot of my athletes will meditate and listen to music. You saw the video clips no doing other things listening to music playing some other type of sport whether it’s ping-pong or basketball. Something you where they’re totally getting away from the game.

It could be as simple as doing cold showers. But a lot of it is grounding themselves in a routine.
You’ll see the top guy, the top guys I work with, in a lot of ways they just adapted to the situation in their still trying to ground themselves in their routine. As if they were playing before.

 

Global News | HOST:

Now there’s a lot of people who are watching who were not inside the NHL bubble but they have been inside a bubble of their own. Whether they’ve had to quarantine because of testing or other sorts of things like that.

What advice would you give to other people who may be forced to go into quarantine later on if their you know, in contact with the virus or things like that. Is it routine and meditation that can really help you get through something like that?

 

John Stevenson | Edmonton Psychologist:

I believe so. you know it goes back to controlling the controllables. Really bringing your focus and awareness to things that you have direct control over. And just really making sure you are taking time to take care for yourself. Taking time to make sure… in whatever that may be.

I know for some people just getting the chance to get outside and go for walk. And just getting some fresh air and doing some type of you know family. I know for myself and our family, we’ve been doing a lot of family activities and a lot of bonding that way.

And I think that is a big thing is that any kind of social connection. There is a tendency to get isolated here. Any type of connections you can make with family or friends. I think that is a real key important thing to do.

 

Global News | HOST:

Well certainly watching hockey has been a release for a lot of people. So best of luck to your athletes and thanks so much for joining us this morning. Thanks for having me on the show.

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