While all sports seasons can have their mid-season “dog days,” it seems like they come on stronger during the winter season. It may feel that way because this season is in the dead of winter. The days are much shorter, the weather can be dreary and cold (depending upon where you live), and the beginning of the season seems like it was so long ago, last year in fact. So what can coaches and athletes do to help power their way through these “dog days”?
First, focus on the moment. Too often we tend to think about the past and the future, without focusing on what we are doing right now. If we live in the past, we stop finding ways to advance and grow. If we think only of the future, we forget to take care of all the things that we must take care of right now to create the future we are seeking. By focusing on this day, this hour, this minute, we zero in on what’s important now to make sure that we do all that we can to become our best.
Second, we need to make sure we are taking care of our health. For athletic teams, it seems like a no-brainer that they would be taking care of their health because they are training almost every day. And while training (exercise) is important to good health, let’s not forget some of the other keys to good health like eating a well-balanced diet, upping your intake of vitamins, and making sure you are getting enough rest, like getting 8 hours of sleep each night. Also, getting outside and enjoying nature can be very beneficial to helping one push through the dog days.
Another way to power through the dog days is to engage in mentally and emotionally stimulating exercises. Reading engaging content or literature that inspires you is a great way to get excited about living and becoming all that you can become. Many people find puzzles, board games, and various challenges to the mind and spirit to be extremely stimulating to their brains and their souls, and these can be great ways to help you deal with some of the monotony and drudgery that the dog days can bring.
One huge way to help get through the dog days is to make sure you add variety to your days. They say, “Variety is the spice of life,” and that certainly rings true when you are in a rut or feeling the monotony of the dog days. Change up the order in which you do things, or add something new and different to your routine. Anything to push you out of a rut and moving in a different direction can be truly beneficial at this time.
Another way to overcome and power through the dog days is to focus on all the positives you have going on. Positivity is a powerful force, and it can really help people get through times when they are feeling sluggish. Daily affirmations of all the good things you have going in your life can do wonders to help you feel good about yourself and your surroundings. Taking time to be thankful for what you do have and all the good people and good things you have in your life can really help to elevate your disposition and your attitude.
Finally, for those of you who have created Core Covenants (Team Standards, Guiding Principles) for your teams, the dog days are a very important time to stay focused on your covenants. Teams have a tendency to stray from the path of what they are supposed to do when the dog days start dragging them down. It’s easy to not focus as much, work as hard, and pay attention to the details that we have deemed important. By re-committing and re-focusing on the team’s covenants, you help keep the team on track to accomplishing what they set out to do. You need your covenants during the tough times more than any other time, and the dog days of your season are the perfect time to zero in on them and help your team stay the course of building the identity you seek.
The dog days can be a drain if you let them be. However, if you recognize them, address them, and work to power through them, you will soon find yourself not even feeling as if they exist at all. You will see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” and before you know it, the winter season will be coming to an end and all the excitement that time of the year brings will become your focus.
If you have any other ways that you power through the dog days of winter, I would love to hear them. Leave a comment under this post on our Coach with Character website or on the Coach with Character Facebook page and let us know what you do to get through the dog days.
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