stop unhealthy comparisons


3 Ways To Stop Unhealthy Comparisons


Most of what I read is about how to stop comparing yourself to others.

The “comparison is the thief of joy” stuff.  It makes perfect sense. Even in my first book, Mental Toughness Training for Golf:, I extensively wrote that one common way to lose confidence is to compare yourself to others.

 I was wrong.


It’s our natural tendency to compare ourselves, in fact, since the age of about six years old, we started doing it all the time.  

We are in a constant state of evaluating to those around us in all areas of life. 

This type of beauty contest comparison is what causes internal strife because we often end up in a state of “I’m not good enough.” The media and advertising world pray on all of us by comparison. It’s unavoidable. 

No matter how good we get, there is always someone better. Even if we are the best, it’s not for very long. It’s the mountaintop fallacy. 

I previously subscribed to the belief that we should ONLY focus on getting better and comparing ourselves to our own level of improvement. I still believe this, but, there are healthy comparisons that we are we missing! I mean if we are the average wealth of our five closest friends, isn’t that dependent upon comparison?

Mental Toughness is NOT ALL OR NOTHING THINKING. 

We need to recognize and stop unhealthy comparisons and simply find more productive ways to do it. 


Unhealthy Comparison #1- We focus on the differences

“We judge others using their highlight reel, while we judge ourselves by what happens backstage.”

We regularly find the differences between others, our competitors, about why they are better than us. Or, we find differences about why we are superior.

Both of these are why we need to stop unhealthy comparisons because they put us in a position of inferiority or superiority. We are relying on our comparison to feel confident about ourselves.

The healthy alternative is noticing and focusing on the similarities between others puts us in a state of equality and forces us to pay attention to what we can control. Besides this comparison becomes an excellent way to build our confidence! 


 Unhealthy Comparison #2- We become envious

“We need to focus on our ‘why’ and others ‘how’.”

We find someone who is better than us or has something we desire and we get envious.

We think how awesome it would be for us to have that talent, status, or car. 

We may even ponder “why” they deserve it. We need to stop unhealthy comparisons because it puts us in a state of negativity and reinforces the belief that we are not good enough

Instead, the healthy way is to replace the envy, and use that individual again as a model.

Focus on “how and “what” they did to achieve that goal and how we can do the same.


Unhealthy Comparison #3- We notice only people better than us

The way that we improve is to use these models of people who are better than us, find out their how, and use it ourselves. But, we need to focus on people worse off as well. 

In the interviews for my 2nd book, The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness, I came across people who had lost a child.  It is the most difficult thing any parent or person can probably experience.

I interviewed different parents who lost a child at birth, 2 months, 2 years old, and 20 years old. Each of these circumstances were different and painful, but it put into perspective that no matter how bad we have it, someone has it worse. My interviews with these strong people revealed that the manner in which a child was lost had a major impact on the grieving process. 

The pandemic put a lot into perspective for us. If we adjust our lens the correct way, then we can see the benefits and the good. When we focus on the things we are grateful for, it develops an action of gratitude.

Once we begin to count our blessings, it gets tough to stop.

 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

Mental Health Experts Tips About Handling The Pandemic

Mental Health Experts Tips About Handling The Pandemic


 Mental Health Experts Tips About Handling The Pandemic 


I love being able to feature experts because they are much smarter than me. I sent out a request and received a lot of responses, and after sifting through many pieces, “hear ye, hear ye, these are thee best.”

It is a very difficult time! many people are struggling. Resources and blog posts are needed to actively incorporate mental skills into daily life. We need to be proactive, not reactive about our health.  

I have my own thoughts and strategies regarding a quarantine and overall health, but I still lean on these greats.

I trust that you’ll be able to get some beneficial actionable knowledge. 

Mental Health Experts Tips About Handling The Pandemic 


Coping With Abrupt EndingsDr. Tim Herzog 

Becoming A Butterfly During An Epidemic Jenna Fuchs, MS

One Mental Practice You Should Be Doing Right NowCoach Blaise, EdD

Well, It’s Groundhog Day All Over Again- Coach Levi Nelson  #Lead 

Creating A Lemonade Edge During A PandemicDr. Kate Hays

A Letter to Coaches In The Wake Of A Epidemic- Brian Alexander, M.A.

Staying Productive During A Pandemic Taylor Staden- B.A.  


Feel free to share your thoughts about the article- Mental Health Experts Tips About Handling The Pandemic. 


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

how positive must I be

 how Positive must I be


How Positive Must I Be To Change My Mood?


Walking out of a coffee shop, my hands were full. 

The door opened up from someone walking in (with perfect timing I might add). They walked in first, but strangely, they didn’t hold the door open and I had to do the stop the door trick with my foot. I managed it okay, but man, I was pissed.

I thought to myself, damn, I don’t live in Philly anymore. 

This simple encounter bothered me. I let it infect me with negativity; my own reaction to this incident soured my mood and negatively affected my other interactions with others.

That’s the power of a negative interaction! 

So, how positive must I be to change my mood? 


Dr. John Gottman’s research at the University of Washington examined successful and unsuccessful marriages.

His initial study examined 95 newlywed couples across several years as he sought to find out predictors of divorce. Eventually, he completed over twelve longitudinal studies and 3,000 couples, even following one couple for over 20 years. He eventually predicted with over 90% accuracy marriages that would end in divorce. 10

He discovered an interesting thing about the communication between happy and unhappy couples.

Successful couples had a 5:1 positive to negative ratio during conflict.

In the most sacred relationships, the ones cherished and invested in the most, five positive experiences were needed to every one negative one.

That’s how positive must I be to change my own mood? 

Unsuccessful couples had a 0.8:1 positive to negative ratio of interactions. It was almost a ratio of 1:1. 

Why must it be 5:1?

Negative experiences simply carry greater weight than positive experiences. It’s why we remember the bad more than the good. A put-down of a spouse in front of others is much more hurtful than the warm feeling of a “nice shirt honey” compliment.  

The bad outweighs the good and it takes much more effort to correct a hurt. That’s also reason why it is easier to criticize than it is to compliment.

Anger is labor intensive. 

How positive must I be to change my own mood? If we are not positive with others in a 5:1 ratio, then a strange boomerang effect takes place.

We then become negative with ourselves.

Anger directed inward = depression. 

We give away what we possess in our mood, and if we give away our own negativity, then the negative spiral of negativity take place.

The simplest way to become positive with ourselves is to be positive to others. That’s the secret to mental toughness. 

If we are able to adopt the 5:1 principle with others, then we cannot but help ourselves as well.

No one can help someone else without also helping themselves.

How positive must I be depends on how bad you want to get out of the negative trap you’re in.

Positivity must be deliberate, and by design, because it does not happen by default.  Make it a goal to provide five positive comments, feedback, or interactions to overcome the negativity that occurred. 


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

2020 Halloween is more important than ever before

 2020 Halloween Is More Important Than Ever Before


Why 2020 Halloween Is More Important Than Ever Before


I wasn’t always a massive Halloween honk. I still don’t have a yard full of gravesites or skeletons. 

And I was certainly never a hater. I recall my wife and I once checking out a church (sans kids) and one of the fellow members shared that Halloween was an evil Holiday. Um, bye!

It’s only been the last few years that I’ve converted to the importance of Halloween as arguably the best holiday! 

Stay with me… 

  • 4th of July is all about freedom, cookouts, and partying. 
  • Thanksgiving is about family. 
  • Valentines Day is for couples. 
  • Memorial Day and Labor Day are significant for the calendar and welcoming of seasons. 
  • Christmas is well, Christmas. 
  • And I don’t need to share with you the importance of Arbor Day! 

Our 2020 Halloween is more important than ever before because it’s the only holiday that celebrates community! 

When we can see past the costume, we will witness the magic that Halloween is way more important than just candy. 

Halloween is not about your country, state, or even town. October 31st is about your little carved out pumpkin of a community! 

Don’t we all remember “that” house that gave out full-sized snickers or cans of soda? No one outside of your own community is privy to that secret. 

When do we ever walk up to your neighbors house and say hello? And expect a gift. 

It’s a day of welcoming your entire community to come up to your front door and give them something for just being part of it. It’s an evening of walking with neighbors, sharing with neighbors, and seeing those who we might not have otherwise. 

Shouting “Trick or Treat” is really just a way of saying “I love you!”

This is NOT the year for a virtual trick or treating, whatever that means.

Virtual means isolation.

This blog and mission is all about Mental Toughness, and confidence happens within us when we are connected to others. 

Yes, a safe 2020 Halloween is more important than ever before. And of course, wear a mask (pun), hand out sanitizer (instead of toothbrushes if you’re “that” house), keep the candy in a dish outside if you wish.

But, tis’ the season to make sure you celebrate it with your community. Besides, If “we are all in this together” then let’s show solidarity with our kids at least for one special evening. This isn’t a mission statement or proclamation, it’s a request for all to connect. 

Now, the CDC and other health agencies have recommending canceling Halloween. They’d rather not have this debate because it’s a real example of the How The Grinch Stole Christmas!  

Lastly, if more proof is needed that 2020 Halloween is more important than ever before, then for the first time since 1965, network television canceled airing The Great PumpkinSeriously, 2020 is the year that they cancel it? Errrrr, you can now buy it on Apple +. 


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

 

create momentum


re-create momentum


How to Re-Create Momentum After The Pandemic Paralyzed Us


The stay-at-home order and pandemic resulted in temporary paralysis. It still continues. 

Life already has a lot of stops & starts. The pandemic merely added another heavy layer. 

Personally, I find myself stopping mid-stride into a building only to turn around and go grab my mask. I have questioned whether I can even go into buildings or out to eat. Then I question why “that” guy isn’t wearing one. 

I start over-thinking mid-conversation if I’m too close to this person. I’ve mini-freaked out on a car ride because I forgot my mask. (thankfully, I had a back-up). 

We went out to eat at a restaurant and were told that my wife and I can’t dance. It felt like Footloose. The place was state-ordered closed a week later.  

My kids didn’t start school, then started virtually, then 1/2 time, followed by who knows?  

People have experienced much more strain and trauma and heartache than just turning around to get a mask.  I get it, I’m not ignorant to the suffering. So, what happens when everything stops, suffering continues, and we’ve loosened into a “new normal” where we can’t be normal?

The toughest part about stopping is re-starting. So, here is what we need to do. 


How we can re-create momentum is an important tool if we want to be mentally tough and succeed

Momentum, even in sports, is a rare-bird. 

It’s almost always a feeling rather than a real construct and a psychological trick that we play on ourselves. It’s also the most-tired and over-used cliche’ that sport reporters use- “Oh, this team has momentum.” I never understood how a team can have positive mo’ from one season into another. Here’s how to-do it! 


1- Face The Fear and Do It Anyways-

There is more apprehension now regarding most anything where other people involved.

Flying for instance, I’ve seen people post pictures of themselves on a plane like they are summiting Mount Everest or plunging into the depths of an Arctic Ocean. 

Sure, there is fear around activities that used to be normal, but is that fear keeping you from pursuing your life?

The fear around many activities that were mundane is both real and imagined. It’s both!  As you’ve followed along with me for some time, you know that fear doesn’t always tell the whole truth. There is a host of lies within that fear. 

If you want to re-create momentum, then it begins with identifying the big fears, then, blowing past them. 


2- Create The Habit-

The first hour of the day sets the rudder for the rest.

Whatever routine that you’ve created was probably rocked to its core. We need to start over, fresh, a new beginning and orchestrate a bullet-proof morning routine.

It must be a battle that you win every morning.

That’s how it becomes a habit. Some say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Frankly, nobody knows because everyone is different and has different “why’s.”

What I can assure you is that the habits you create will result in massive momentum. Some of us are trying to remove something, while many are trying to build something. Know what it is exactly that you want and create a small daily morning routine that will create the habit. 


3- Eat The Frog-

In order to build mental toughness, we have to put ourselves in situations that stress us. Doing the things that you don’t want to do.

Hence, the incorrect way to create a morning habit and routine is to do something easy.

It’s wrong, because all you are doing is exhausting mental energy and delaying the inevitable; which is “that tough stuff is still waiting for you.” 

The right way to get after it is to EAT THE FROG! Do the toughest thing 1st thing in the morning. That’s how you re-create momentum.

Ask yourself, what is it that is important to me, that I DO NOT want to do. Then, Start With That.


4- Check That Success Sauce-

Momentum simply means having good outcomes. It results in us getting on a roll. Hence, we need to have successes. 

Confidence flows downhill

Confidence is contagious

Doing the tough stuff early in the day, even if we weren’t perfect, means that we have already secured a win!

We build off of wins and thus need to recognize and appreciate the good things, the successes, no matter how small they are. That’s why make your bed became a best selling book. 

Success is the mental toughness sauce that is needed to fulfill the mission.


5- Just Keep Moving- 

Life shows us that if we just keep moving then a miracle happens. The miracle is our second wind!

We ALL get a second wind IF we don’t quit. By continuing to show up, stand up, be counted, and keep pushing, you’re giving yourself the best opportunity!

Life is more about opportunities than comfort.

Seek opportunities to push yourself and struggle and comfort will follow.

If you do what is hard, life gets easier. If you do what is easy, life gets harder. 

When we welcome the challenge we will adopt a perspective and gratitude. Comfort can’t be sought before struggle. Re-create momentum by birthing opportunities and never giving up. 


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

be the hinge for others

be the hinge for others

How to Be The Hinge For Others


In 2009, photographer, Jitu Kalita was exploring a barren river island in India named Majuli Island.

What amazed Jitu was that after miles of desolate space, he came across something strange; a massive dense forest. He met a man during his exploration, Jadav Payeng, who single-handedly planted and cultivated the forest, which was now larger than the size of Central Park.

As a kid, Payeng found hundreds of dead, curled up snakes that had been washed away by flood rains and massive erosion with no shade to protect them. From this hinge moment, the then 16-year-old boy simply began planting seeds on this island.

Jadav Payeng began planting trees in 1979 on the island that housed approximately 150,000 people.

Jadav, over the course of 40 years, tirelessly created a vast forest that spans over 1300 acres. Today, the island houses over one hundred elephants, a hundred deer, five Royal Bengal tigers, wild boars, several species of birds, including vultures and pelicans, many one-horned rhinoceroses, and of course snakes.

Jadav Payeng became known as the “Forest Man of India” for his continued effort. 

Jadav’s work and passion for his daily routine transformed his entire environment. Remember, If you want to change the way you feel, change your environment.


Most of us will not follow in his footsteps, but we can still plant trees!

Every transaction we have with someone else has the potential to be transformational. We don’t know which acts or gestures will be the hinge for others, so every person and transaction is the most important.

We may not develop a transformational encounter with someone at the cash register, but of course, isn’t it nice when we enter a store and they know our coffee order or remember our name. In those cases, our transactions became transformational and relational. We become connected. 


On the simplest level, we each have the potential in our lives to positively impact everyone we encounter by planting trees that we will never see. 

One of the ways I do this is during my long training runs. I simply wave and acknowledge others. 

These people in my wake, in the early morning hours are putting forth their best effort, running, getting after it, and my way to be the hinge for others is to wave and/or say ‘hello.” The wave or hello may not seem important, but it makes a connection.

It’s simple, not hard, and I’ll never know the impact! But, I believe in my core, that we all need an acknowledgement and to feel worthy and recognizable.

This simple act of the wave establishes the possibility that the beneficiary will extend it further to someone else.

While it is impossible to know the impact simple, generous acts; the effect is invaluable. However, if we hold back and do not extend to connect with those around us, then there can’t be any positive impact. The Hinge can’t connect that way. 


“We do not know the impact of our actions, but if we take no action, there will be no results.”- Gandhi 


After the pandemic struck however, I noticed more and more people who would also wave back. I think it is a key to keeping our sanity during these times.

We actually want to plant trees that we will see and enjoy ourselves. However, planting trees that we will never see, means doing actions because it is the right thing to do, not because of the reaction or non-reaction we get from someone else. If we wave, acknowledge, support, and are generous to enough people, then we eventually will receive the reciprocation.

The theme about being the hinge for others is that we give away the mindset that we possess ourselves. If we want more confidence, or focus, or patience, or kindness, then only by helping others with that specific skill will we actually improve upon it. That’s why no one gets there alone. 

How will you be the hinge for others? 


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

10 ways to improve your mental game of golf

10 ways to instantly improve your mental game of golf


10 ways to instantly improve your mental game of golf 


Don’t stress about the mental piece any longer.


10 ways to improve your mental game of golf

Click here for your free e-book and become the BEST at getting BETTER.

 


Remember, we play LIKE we train! 

This ebook has 10 tips that can be instantly applied to preparation. we’ve been fortunate enough to have coached with 3 different PGA Tour champions and throughout my many years, I’ve come up with 10 common mistakes that most players make, AND how to correct them.

We have tons of resources to help you. 

Golf is without a doubt the most difficult sport there is. It will expose the demons inside, and while this ebook will not take care of those, it will provide a path to instantly improve your mental game of golf.  

The mental game is simple, but not easy! It takes all of these skills to reach your full potential. 


Here’s a few other bonus resources to check out. 

    1. Why the psychological game of golf is not successful. 

    2. What Skill is Needed to Play at the NEXT LEVEL. 

    3. Three Toughness Drills for Golfers. 

    4. One on One  #MentalToughness Training Camp for Golfers. 

These will guarantee to instantly improve your mental game of golf. 


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

 

Personally, I dislike hacks!

I think of a bad golfer when I hear the word, HACK.  I don’t want to be a hack or peddle hacks around. I also dislike the term because a hack seems like an easy way out, a cop out, rather than a campaign to get better.

And getting better is indeed a campaign!


But, hacks do make life easier, if we implement them. So, yes, this infographic is a hack, because it’s the simplest thing to alter the way we feel. 

When we feel a certain way and want to stop it, then we need to change our environment. We can act our way into right thinking easier than thinking our way into right acting. 


Want to change the way you feel, CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT

Here’s an example about the power of our environment- The reason why you should never have exercise equipment in your bedroom, is because that’s not what the bedroom is for. It’ll sit there, reminding you, causing stress about why you don’t use it. 

​​When it comes to changing how we feel about work or our team, the environment matters! 
As Lou Holtz stated​​, “create an environment where you are missed if you’re absent.” 

However, during a pandemic, changing our situation often became a difficult thing to do. We were stuck. So, when thinking of changing how we feel about ourselves, it isn’t always about getting away or sitting on a beach (although, that’s great).


Tweaking our environment can mean altering anything for the betterour office, our routines, sprucing up the yard, connecting with others, or even driving new routes home.

Changing your environment will help your focus, grant you perspective and rejuvenate how we feel about ourselves. It doesn’t replace doing the internal head work. But, if used in moderation, it is a way to gain momentum!  


want to change the way you feel, Change your environment

Remember, you’re an athlete, our offices are just different.

You are responsible for the culture and training mentality that you set. 


Want To Change The Way You Feel, Change Your Environment.


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

best mental toughness podcast

best mental toughness podcast


Why “15 Minutes” of Mental Toughness Podcast?


Here’s a quick test:

Look at any random non-fiction book on your self that you’ve previously read. Without looking through it again, tell yourself everything that you remember from that book, the characters, the message or theme, stories, etc. Try and think of everything you remember. 

I looked over and picked The Power of Broke by Daymond John

Now, here’s the test- How many factoids, nuggets, or impactful stories could you really come up with?

Mine? I only recall two things from my choice: 1) that desperation was a needed requirement for success and 2) that Daymond John spray-painted his ads for Fubu on the pull-down garage doors in NYC. 

I know there was tons more from the book, but that’s about all I can recall. And it was a good book! 

Maybe you’re better than me. But I think, we can only remember the big stuff from almost every book that we read, one or two things, and we forget the rest. 

That’s the “why” behind the 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness Podcast. 

I started the show knowing that within our 45-1 hour interviews, you would get 15 minutes worth of content that could totally transform you and your outlook on mental toughness, the hinge, and mental health and wellness

In life, we have to be able to take what we need! 

But, it’s not about extracting the nectar and burning the tree, it’s merely about consuming what we learn and passing your newfound knowledge and experience onto others. I think we are at our best when we are helping others. 

If you like our mental toughness podcast, please subscribe and leave a review here, they really help!

 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

 

mental health need for us

mental health need for us


The Ever-Present Mental Health Need For Us & Our Kids


Amid the pandemic, other health concerns have obviously taken precedence.

However, the mental health and mental wellness issues over the previous several months have also risen dramatically. It may get increasingly worse the more we experience cancelations, withdraws, and isolation.

Early results of research of 2300 school-aged children showed after just 33 days of stay-at home orders, 22.6% of children reported depressive symptoms and 18.9% were experiencing anxiety. 1

Results from recent research from the University of Wisconsin and Dr. McGuine showed similar trends. During school related closures, anxiety rates of adolescents increased to around 65%, meaning approximately 66,000 adolescents kids were at risk for mental health related issues. In addition, physical activity rates during COVID-19 closures resulted in a 50% decrease.2

The mental health need for us and our children is real


Why do these numbers occur?

Extreme social distancing measures result in social isolation.

Isolation is the worst type of punishment. Isolation breeds anxiety, depression, and hopelessness.

The most dangerous type of incarceration for prisoners is solitary confinement. Isolation put prisoners at risk for serious mental illness, and severe emotional, cognitive, and social consequences. Numerous studies into the effects of solitary confinement on prisoners have shown serious detriments after just 10 days. 3

The results from solitary confinement caused people to become more self-centered, irritable, and defensive.


Harry Harlow was an American psychologist whose laboratory bred and reared Rhesus monkeys. In one of his controversial studies, he looked at the effects of separation on baby monkeys and their mothers.

The three groups of baby monkeys consisted of complete separation from their mothers and they were placed in total social isolation for various periods of time: 3 months, 6 months, and a year.

The results were disturbing.

The monkeys’ so-called “basic needs” of food and shelter were met, but the isolation from their mother and others caused extreme maladjustment.

It showed that even at 3 months of isolation, the baby monkeys suffered psychological damage. They had bizarre behavior and struggled at any interaction with other monkeys. The psychological effects of those at 3 months however could be reversed, given time. 4

However, it was the effects on the monkeys who were isolated for one year without a mother that appeared to be irreversible. When they were re-introduced to other monkeys, they barely moved and did not explore or play. Some monkeys who had been isolated for over a year even refused to eat.

The caregiving of a mother produced a safe and secure bond, which then reflected the baby monkey’s view of the outside world. A secure relationship with their mother early on meant the outside world was also the same.

His research showed that the bond and connection with others was as important as food to the overall development.

Could these results translate into the mental health need for us? 


Does this research translate to our lives and our children’s lives?

Separation from others puts the brain on high alert and causes people to distort their own minds and their view of others. There is a reason why we were separated, because there was a real threat. The brain continues to operate in this manner however. Think about how alert we are throughout every day life trying to make sure we are not close to anyone, nor are they close to us.

The mental fallout from the pandemic and quarantine lies in the effects on our own mind and how we look at the world.

As a result, instead of viewing people as social connections to be made, our isolated brain instead now views most people and situations as threats.

We are social creatures. We seek companionship, tribes, and a collective sharing of experiences. A sense of collective community is the number one cause for mental wellness amongst school-aged children.

However, oddly enough, isolation becomes like junk food.

Isolation becomes what our mind starts to crave, even though it’s the worst possible solution for us. We know junk food tastes good, but it leaves us feeling lousy.

The reason why we seek isolation is because our mind has one simple job and it is excellent at it. Our brain’s job is to keep us safe. It does not want us to experience stress or risk. The easiest way to stay safe is to stay home and don’t do anything. 

Isolation does keep us physically safe, but at the same time our coping skills atrophy and we remain on “high-alert.” Isolation is not the mental health need for us.

Social isolation hinders our natural emotional and mental development. Due to our isolation, a negative cycle continues, our mood can worsen and we feel even more fearful and isolated.


What is the remedy?

The technology of today allows us to connect and saves us all up to a point. But, we’ve created or become I-pad zombies and it also doesn’t allow for real connection of shared experiences to take place.

Social interaction at school or athletics among children in grades K-12 is imperative for the development of language, communication, social, emotional, and interpersonal skills.5

The school environment provides opportunities for kids to develop friendships and relationships, handle conflicts, communicate effectively, and behave in groups.

Students learn how to manage emotions, gain confidence and develop and engage others’ perspectives and experiences different from their own. Depending upon the age of the children, their peer group is developed and nurtured and it becomes their main source of connectedness and stability.

We are social creatures and we need each other.

Connection is the mental need for us! We need to be proactive about our relationships because relationships get deeper or they often die. The effects of the isolation sometimes can be seen very quickly. However, the longer we are without one another, the more deep-rooted these emotional issues become. These issues have deep hidden costs.

Merely returning to normalcy with measures in place will offset the price that many families will pay if we keep isolating.

The vast safety measures that are in place are stronger at school and practice than at any other time of the day, except of course inside of the home. Additional safety pre-cautions will be commonplace such as, testing prior to school, vaccinating, or awaiting test results before re-entering general population.

However, these are not common yet and sadly appear to be a rare exception. Hopefully, it will be soon.

Check out our next book- PUKE & RALLY: It’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback. 


References 

  1. https://time.com/5870478/children-mental-health-coronavirus/
  1. https://www.wpr.org/high-school-athletes-experiencing-increased-anxiety-depression-during-pandemic-study-shows?fbclid=IwAR1zvY8trhRD84uGp_It1dlYzsoQounfvlDlnZAuRau_DYrchAEWzxrDjhk
  1. Metzner, J. L., & Fellner, J. (2010). Solitary confinement and mental illness in U.S. prisons: A challenge for medical ethics. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 38(1), 104–108.
  1. Harlow, H. F., Dodsworth, R. O., & Harlow, M. K. (1965). Total social isolation in monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America54(1), 90–97.
  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/reopening-schools.html

 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly.