England spinner Dom Bess revealed keeping on top of his fitness has proven a suitable distraction from the anxiety he felt when learning the country was going into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bess last month opened up about his mental health struggles in an interview with The Sun and he discussed the topic further, including what can influence his “triggers”, in a chat with former Somerset team-mate Marcus Trescothick.
The pair’s conversation during Mental Health Awareness week took place on Zoom, a necessity due to the Government measures imposed by the ongoing public health crisis.
He said: “I’ve actually been alright during the lockdown. I was very anxious about the situation, not knowing how long it could be, but getting that structure in has really helped me.
“Getting out running and fit always gets me in a positive mindset and having a bit of structure.
“I know how it affects me. I always call them triggers. Even little things like the weather. It is funny how little things like that can just change the whole atmosphere within my mood.
“There’s times where it’s been really bad and I really struggle to get out of bed and the motivation is not there any more.
“I struggle with that quite a lot and getting going is always the hardest part for me, certainly in this lockdown.
“There’s been little triggers but I’m fortunate enough to have two people in my household, my girlfriend and my housemate, to make sure that I’m all right and keep going with it.”
Bess reignited his Test career with a five-wicket haul against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in January, part of a busy winter in which he also travelled to India, Australia and Sri Lanka.
The 22-year-old cited working with a psychologist who knows nothing about cricket – funded by the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, a PCA-associated charity created to support the health and well-being of members and their immediate families – as crucial to his development in recent months.
He added: “Getting someone away from the game was so helpful for me, because it was as much outside life for me as it was about cricket. She is absolutely amazing and she only lives half an hour away.
“She certainly helped me plan the tours. I was really anxious about going away and I was hoping I was going to be OK, but we had quite a few sessions to get a real understanding of putting things into place to manage it.
“Offloading is a really hard thing to do but knowing you’ve got someone there is massive. I genuinely do feel a weight off my shoulders.”
Bess was one of 40 current players supported in 2019 by the Trust, which is set for a £250,000 shortfall this year because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Trescothick, the Trust director and himself a pioneer with regards to mental health in sport, spoke about how he has found the transition to coaching after ending his 26-year playing career at the end of the 2019 season.
The former England opener worked with the national side during the Ashes last year and the Twenty20 portion of the South Africa tour in February.
He said: “I was worried for a long time about what it would feel like and how it would go.
“But I’ve been pleasantly surprised, actually. It’s been quite nice to have that release of pressure, to not have the burden or scrutiny of everything on top of you, the ups and downs.
“I would say it’s made me a lot more level-headed although I still manage the mental health stuff around it. I’m more situational with my mental health now than what I was when I was playing.”