“Crisis Reveals Character” – Why challenge can be good for us

In our latest online event ‘Playing in All Conditions’ we had Sam Poolman, a professional netballer for the Giants, speak about what it's been like going through COVID-19 and her tips for staying mentally strong during challenging times.

Sam’s message for ACA apprentices and trainees was:

"[It's important to be] putting your energy into things you can control and being more proactive..."

Sam Poolman - NSW Giants netballer

She highlighted the importance of focussing on what’s within your control, mentioning that it's not something that she has always found easy “I’ve probably wasted so much time in the past...feeling stressed and worried.” Sam said that the current challenges of COVID-19 have pushed her to become more used to putting her energy into what can be controlled and trying not to focus on what she can’t.

This is just one of the ways that being challenged can help us improve. Research has shown that challenging our brain with unfamiliar situations can actually help it grow new connections. This means that by challenging yourself to navigate these tricky times, and learn new ways to cope (like focusing on what’s in your control), you are likely going to find future challenging situations easier.

Here’s a practical activity to put Sam’s advice into practice:

  1. Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle

  2. Make a list of all of your worries on the left side
    This list can include thoughts like ‘I’m worried I might lose my job,’ ‘how will I afford my rent?,’ or ‘what if there is a recession?’ Include anything that’s on your mind.

  3. Make a new list on the right hand side of only things that you can do something about
    Write this list as a ‘to-do’ list and be creative in your solutions. So, if one of your worries is ‘I’m feeling really stressed right now', your to do list might include going for a daily walk to reduce stress. Or if your worry is ‘I’ll never find another job,’ you may not be able to change the job market but something that is in your control is how many jobs you apply for or how you could get some work experience or volunteer work. Even if your list of worries includes lots of things you can’t necessarily do much about (for example, the state of the economy), you can always do things to manage your stress and take care of yourself.

Challenging times can bring out stronger versions of ourselves when we make a commitment to focus on what we can control. What will you start with?

This article talks about mental health and wellbeing

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues there are free services you can access. Headspace is a free service for young people up to 25 years — visit their website here. You can also access Lifeline 24/7 for crisis support and suicide prevention 13 11 14 or Beyondblue 1300 22 4636.