"In your time you need structure," said Ms. Caffari. "You have to get up in the morning knowing that you are going to make a difference."
Focus on something new
When all else fails, look at something new: a new hobby, a new goal, a new experience. During a particularly tough competition, some athletes say they focus on another sense that may not be in the foreground when the pain sets in. A runner might notice the smells around them and a climber might notice the way his hair is blowing in the wind. When athletes are injured, sports psychologists and coaches often encourage them to find a new activity to keep their mind and body occupied. The key is to adapt, adapt, and then adapt again.
"We all want mental toughness, which is an important part of dealing with difficult things," said Michael Gervais, a high-performance psychologist and host of the Finding Mastery podcast. "The current definition of mental hardship is the ability to turn and be nimble and flexible."
Ms. Caffari, the global sailor, spent a lot of time in her garden, something she didn't have as much time for when she was out for much of the year. "The neighbors are very happy with it," she said with a laugh.
Mr. Anker put his extra energy into calligraphy. "I transcribed quotes from John Lewis yesterday and I find it satisfying," he said.
When his favorite routes were closed due to road closures, Mr. Woltering decided to use every street in his hometown of Ottawa, Illinois. It was about 200 miles.
"The next moment is always completely uncertain, and it always has been," said Dr. Gervais. However, as you adjust, adjust expectations, and discover new goals or hobbies, you can continue to build the muscle that means mental resilience.
Bottom line? "Optimism is an antidote to anxiety," said Dr. Gervais.