Drawing on the best elements of golf can quell those queasy feelings

At 7:01 a.m. on Saturday morning, I was standing in a Walmart staring at an empty shelf. At one time, it was populated by opaque plastic bottles of isopropyl alcohol. Now, it resembled a barren prairie.

Again, I felt that queasy feeling in my stomach that has become well-known to me since the damn virus infiltrated Canada.

The other 100 or so folks who were in Walmart with me within minutes of its opening looked like they all had queasy, nervous stomachs. 

On my way home, I thought about how wonderful it would be to stand on the first tee at Blue Springs GC on a Saturday morning as the sun as slanted in, throwing long shadows across the fairway as the birds chattered.

Then, this occurred to me: the best elements of golf and mindfulness can help us get through this.

Here are some thoughts on quieting your mind, and feeling a little peace in a time of fear:

  • Nature is calming. Go outside for a walk. Listen to the birds. Watch them fly around. Feel the breeze on your cheek. Feel the cool air in your nose.
  • Notice everything around you as if you’ve never seen it before, whether you’re in your backyard, a park or downtown. Allow your senses to drink in everything: the smells, sights, sounds, the feeling of your body moving over the ground. 
  • Looking up is a great antidote to feeling sad and stopping your thoughts. When we feel low, it’s a universal human experience to look downwards (hence, the expression, ‘you look down.’ You can arrest that simply by looking up at trees, clouds, and even at the horizon. 
  • Use your body as an ally. Our minds habitually fly forward in worry, or backwards in rumination, which heightens feelings of fear and sadness. We feel most at peace when we are in the present moment. The body is always in the present moment.
  • Focusing on your breath while sitting is the most popular form of meditation to quiet your thoughts. But a walking meditation also provides calming benefits. As you walk, you could focus on the feeling of your feet hitting the ground, or on your thighs, abs or on your breath. 
  • I guarantee this: Despite your best intentions to focus on birds or your breath, or whatever, you will drift into thinking, and your feelings of fear may intensify again. That’s normal. When it happens, just shift your attention back to whatever you were focusing on. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It’s my hope that these skills can help you deal with the fear that’s percolating among us as we grapple with the virus, and its affects on our lives.

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!