Stay active, slow down and speak up - McConville's advice for self-isolation

Oisin McConville
Crossmaglen and Armagh legend McConville works as an addiction counsellor

Former Armagh forward Oisin McConville has urged people to stay active during their period of self-isolation.

The 2002 All-Ireland winner, who works as an addiction counsellor, believes that it's important for people to get outdoors, even if it's only for 15 minutes.

McConville, 44, has also called on people to speak up if they are struggling, something which helped change his life after battling a gambling addiction.

"People need to get outdoors for stages during the day," McConville told BBC Sport NI.

"I understand that means different things to different people. If you're lucky enough to live in an isolated area, or in the country, get out and have that walk for 15-20 minutes.

"Exercise will improve how you feel - it will energise you."

Stricter government measures, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday evening in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, stated that people should leave home only to exercise once a day, travel to and from work where "absolutely necessary" and shop for essential items such as food and medicine.

Oisin McConville
The GAA has cancelled all activity at all age groups in response to the coronavirus

McConville, who is currently isolating with his family at their home in Crossmaglen, says it's important for people to not only take time for themselves, but to 'slow it down', something he learned in recovery.

"It's about changing the way you think," he said.

"Sometimes we think about the negatives, or what we can't do, but look at what you can do. That's just basic mental wellbeing.

"It's important to take that time to yourself, whether it's gardening, or power-hosing, or the spring clean. But don't peak too soon - give yourself a bit of room.

"What I've found is with people who have maybe been in addiction and have been through recovery, they're used to slowing things down and I think everyone needs to do that.

"It's a rat race, life is a rat race. This will slow us all down. Something like this could change us forever.

"When I came towards the end of my gambling and I realised that things needed to change pretty quickly, I went into a treatment centre and started learning about how to slow down, about how to control the negative feelings. Once you do that, you can get a picture of your life and where exactly it's going."

'Sport is sorely missed'

McConville, who stressed the importance of social distancing and listening to the messages from the NHS asking people to stay at home, admits that the absence of sport has made him realise how much it overlaps with life.

"When this first came out, I thought 'jeez, no sport' but then I flipped and thought life is more important. But you realise how the two overlap.

"Anyone with a passing interest in sport will have missed it over the last couple of weeks. I understand it isn't life or death, but it's important in giving young people direction.

"When I hear about gyms or facilities closing down, I think about the pressure that brings and how reliant people are. At this stage, sport is sorely missed. We have two boys here, and we can go and kick the ball about, but they miss the organised training. It's a small price to pay but sport is a massive miss."

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