Former India captain Virat Kohli said that the constant pressure and scrutiny can affect the mental health of a sportsperson negatively and has personally experienced it, adding he had felt alone, at times, despite being in a room full of people.
Kohli has been subject to constant scrutiny, especially in the recent past wherein he has gone through a lean patch in international cricket. He quit T20I as well as IPL captaincy to ease up the pressure. The star batter was removed as ODI captain following which he also gave up Test captaincy in an unforeseen manner earlier this year following a series defeat in South Africa.
Virat, who is one of the fittest cricketers in world cricket despite being on the wrong side of the 30s, has been vocal about the importance of mental health and breaks for cricketers. He has also often shed light on how the pandemic has made life difficult for athletes as they have to constantly deal with restrictions and bio-bubble environments.
After taking a rest while India toured West Indies and Zimbabwe, the 35-year-old is all set to play in the upcoming 2022 Asia Cup, which gets underway in the UAE on August 27.
“For an athlete, the sport can bring the best out of you as a player but at the same time, the amount of pressure that you are constantly under can affect your mental health negatively. It is definitely a serious issue and as much as we try to be strong at all times, it can tear you apart,” Kohli told The Indian Express.
Kohli also offered a tip to young athletes, saying it’s important to keep in touch with one’s inner self and allocate time to rest and recover from the pressures of the sport.
“My tips to aspiring athletes would be that yes, physical fitness and focus on recovery are the key to being a good athlete, but at the same time, it is crucial to consistently keep in touch with your inner self,” the batter said.
“I personally have experienced times when even in a room full of people who support and love me, I felt alone, and I am sure that this is a feeling that a lot of people can relate to. So, take out time for yourself and reconnect with your core self. If you lose that connection, it wouldn’t take very long for other things to crumble around you.
“You need to learn how to compartmentalise your time so that there’s balance. It takes practice like anything else in life, but it’s something worth investing in, that’s the only way to feel a sense of sanity and enjoyment while doing your work,” he added.
The former skipper also mentioned how spending time with his family and travelling has helped him unwind after hectic seasons in the professional sport.
“The one thing that truly helps me unwind after a hectic season is spending time with my family. Apart from that, I love to spend time pursuing my hobbies. Travel is something that helps me de-stress a lot, and of course coffee; I believe that I am a coffee connoisseur and absolutely love trying out different flavours and coffee spots around the world,” Kohli said.
Despite having a hectic schedule, the Delhi-born cricketer never misses his workouts.
“My fitness journey is an interesting one. The first few months are the hardest because that is the time you really need to push yourself. The only thing that keeps you going is your desire and how badly you want to make those changes in your lifestyle, which is why I try my best to never miss my workouts,” he said.
“My daily routine consists of simple things like staying hydrated, consuming healthy foods that help detoxify my body, and helping my body recover faster,” he added.