Beccy Muzerie |

Lockdown: balancing self-compassion with maintaining perspective

In her first British Rowing blog, GB rower Beccy Muzerie shares how she has been processing the new normal in a turbulent few months.

2020 very quickly turned into the year no one could have predicted. As elite athletes, the rhythm of our existence beats in four-year cycles, gently rising and falling to finally reach the highest peak of an Olympic Games. So, when provisional selection, lockdown, Olympic postponement and confirmation of de-selection occurred within a four-day space against a four-year heartbeat of Tokyo 2020, it isn’t really surprising that some of us have taken a while to process the new normal we find ourselves living in.

Although being in lockdown and postponing the Olympics are both decisions that I agree with, I have still gone through periods of feeling highly unmotivated, finding myself breaking down for no apparent reason and even considering packing rowing in all together.

The problem is, I then feel guilty for being upset and talking about my struggle to make myself walk into my backyard and sit on the ergo. Because it’s just sport. It is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

The problems facing the world right now are far greater: people are losing loved ones, frightened for their own health, struggling financially, losing businesses, becoming teachers to their own children and many other unexpected curveballs on top of the normal challenges that life throws at us.

And that is all before the murder of George Floyd.

I have still gone through periods of feeling highly unmotivated, finding myself breaking down for no apparent reason

These past few weeks, as I pledged my commitment to understanding racial inequality and the depth of truth and pain behind the Black Lives Matter movement, I have felt the scales slowly falling from my eyes.

Through exposure to vulnerable conversations, books, podcasts and social media posts I am just beginning to reflect on, and understand, my white privilege and the length of the essential journey to change ahead of us.

Note: There is a hugely insightful interview between GB rowers Kyra and Holly on this topic on the British Rowing website, and British Rowing want to hear your views – please get involved!

Taking a step back and putting our current situation in perspective is important and can be really helpful. It reminds us of our responsibility to keep engaging with the world outside our window, using what we do have to help where we can.

But at the same time, we need to acknowledge that there is validity to our emotions, and we need to allow ourselves to process what is going on in our personal lives. Practising being kind to ourselves through our highs and lows helps us remain mentally healthy and gives us the energy to respond to others.

In her book Rising Strong, Brene Brown talks about being curious, but not judgemental about how we are feeling. For me, reflecting that my emotional struggle is partly connected to such an extended period of not being on the water has re-affirmed that I am putting my time and energy into something that I love, and therefore it is worth me continuing to pursue.

Remembering that I find great joy in training with other people helps me not feel guilty for often approaching training with a ‘just get the session done’ attitude, because I know the work I am putting in now will pay off when I can enjoy rowing with my friends again. Realising that analysing where I sit on the daily spreadsheet of everyone’s training scores was affecting how I viewed my self-worth, led me to stop opening the spreadsheet and re-focus on my own training goals.

In her book Rising Strong, Brene Brown talks about being curious, but not judgemental about how we are feeling

No matter who we are and no matter what situation we find ourselves in, recognising that this period of time is unprecedented and, therefore, we should not expect too much of ourselves is invaluable.

I am learning to make the most out of lockdown by keeping a routine and maintaining my own boundaries. By this I mean challenging myself to engage with the bigger perspective of what is going on in the wider world, keeping a pattern to my training, so I don’t have to constantly persuade myself to fit in a session, while also giving myself periods of time to switch off and process my own emotional journey.

Practising being self-compassionate in turn helps me engage more positively with the world around me, and hopefully will help me leave lockdown both mentally and physically stronger.

(Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)