When Rugby Players Ireland first set John Cooney up with a counsellor during one particularly injury plagued stint at Connacht, there was no light-bulb moment for the soon-to-be Irish international scrum-half.
The change in his mental approach to the game's myriad ups and downs was to be a gradual process but there was one particular piece of advice that has stuck with him since. Train as if.
Then, it meant approaching his day-to-day as if already at the level he wanted to reach - that of a Test number nine.
Now, having likely been denied a few caps when the coronavirus stopped the Six Nations in its tracks, it's a phrase that has taken on new meaning.
Without a game for three months, and with at least the same time again to go before the sport resumes, it's naturally hard to keep training as if these times resemble anything close to normality.
This week, for example, motivation was particularly low come Monday morning as another week of solo training and solitary gym sessions beckoned. And yet, come the end of the day he'd managed to put in each of his aimed-for sessions.
If you get into a routine of not having a routine, you'll feel bad at the end of the day but you're more likely to do it the next day again and then feel worse.
Acting again as an ambassador for the 'Tackle Your Feelings' initiative, the lesson of lockdown has been aligned to the campaign's latest tag-line - 'Take Control'.
"Quarantine, I've found it ebbs and flows," he says. "There are some weeks I've enjoyed it really and then there are others where I just find myself hating it. This week for whatever reason was pretty tough to start out but I went back to what I normally do.
"One idea I've been using is from Ryan Holiday (author of books such as 'The Obstacle Is the Way', 'Ego Is the Enemy', and 'The Daily Stoic'). It's asking yourself whether what you're doing is 'Alive Time' or 'Dead Time', I've got it written on my fridge.
"Part of it goes back to just what I learned in counselling, it's important to understand your personality and your traits.
"That self-awareness, and understanding, before I would have been oblivious to it or blind to certain aspects of it but for me now, I know it's good for me to have a routine. If you get into a routine of not having a routine, you'll feel bad at the end of the day but you're more likely to do it the next day again and then feel worse. It takes so much of your energy. Before counselling, I'd probably have been like a lot of people, wondering why I would need it, why I would bother?
"But now, I don't understand why you wouldn't take control.
"It's exhausting dealing with the same issues day after day. When that becomes week after week, it becomes even worse. It takes so much of your energy, even in the background.
"So for me 'taking control', it's coming up with a way of breaking that cycle because you have to fix it yourself, nobody else is going to do it for you."
Having turned 30 during lockdown, Cooney now better understands his body as well as his mind, appreciating that he who trains hardest is not necessarily training the best.
As such, only so many hours of the day can be accounted for by sitting on the exercise bike or in the home gym he's put together in his garage. His social media followers will no doubt now be familiar with his efforts to perfect a few trick shots, whether that be with a ball and posts, or teabags and a mug, while gardening briefly became an interest too.
One of the more prolonged periods of boredom saw him create an Instagram page for his beloved Bonnie, the dog he shares with his girlfriend Claire, while membership at his local golf course has this week given him another outlet.
"Yeah, I've been trying a few different things," he laughs. "Not all of them would be great habits I suppose. I've been playing a lot of Call of Duty: Warzone with Dave McSharry and Noel Reid.
"There was a time back when we were all in the Leinster sub-Academy together that we got snowed in for about a week and we'd be playing that together for nine or ten hours at a time. We were saying the other day that it was one of the best weeks we've had in a decade of friendship and it's been good to sort of reconnect in that way. With Dave retired and Noel over in Leicester now it'd been pretty hard to get together but now we're there sitting playing almost every night when we're on the bikes. It's been nice to be back together.
"And then with the Ulster lads too, it's important to stay connected. We've a WhatsApp group called 'QuaranTeam' that we'll use. Usually around 3pm on a Friday you'll see the messages coming in, just guys posting what they're doing at the weekend and we've had a couple of quizzes.
"It's been good to stay so connected too because it's different for some people. I've the dog here and I've got Claire but there's some lads who might be single and away from family.
"It's important to stay in touch. We've smaller groups too where everyone took two other lads just to check in and make sure everything is okay. With Dan's (McFarland) background in psychology, that's somewhere he's brilliant, generating that spirit of togetherness and making sure everyone feels appreciated. It's something that he puts a lot of emphasis on."
With an abbreviated run-off to the PRO14 and Champions Cup mooted, Cooney is in favour of seeing the 2019/20 campaign finished before the next one begins.
"Mentally it feels like there's been that break but I'd prefer to resume just because of the position we're in at Ulster," he said. "We've a quarter-final in Europe and we're second in our conference in the PRO14 so ideally I'd want to see it finished.
"It'll take a game or two to get back into the swing but you wouldn't want to see the competitions just abandoned after all the hard work that's went into the season."
In the meantime, even the updating of his house decor is used to provide motivation.
Presents for his 30th included jerseys signed by Leo Messi and Steven Gerrard. Yesterday they were to be joined on the wall by his own from Leinster's Heineken Cup win in 2012, Connacht's Pro12 title in 2016 and one from his Ireland debut a year later. No Ulster representation?
"I've to wait until we win something," he replies.