Hello and welcome back! As we approach the spring sports season, there is certainly a lot of tension that goes on in the mind and body of a student-athlete. With the beginning of a new semester kicking off and returning to reality after winter break, it is very common to become overwhelmed with everything that goes on in life. I can definitely attest to this—this time of year can be almost as stressful as finals week. Trying to keep up with your classes, giving your all at practice 110% of the time, and meeting other life obligations can be a lot to juggle. It is important to not let your fears, stress, and anxiety take over your life and how you feel and act. Stress and anxiety are very prevalent in college students, especially student-athletes. In this blog post, I want to share the best ways for individuals dealing with mental instability to cope and reduce the risk of developing other mental illnesses in the future.
Recognize the Symptoms
The hardest part of dealing with stress and anxiety is acknowledging that you are struggling and identifying the problem. Some people know when they are stressed, and others tend to cover it up and not even know it. Symptoms can vary depending on the individual, but the most common symptoms include changes in sleeping patterns, weakened immune system, decreases in social activity, headaches, and lack of energy. It is not only important to identify these symptoms in yourself, but to also be aware of them in others so you can take action to help them. The earlier the symptoms are recognized, the easier it will be to get help. Many individuals, especially athletes, have a hard time admitting that they are struggling and more often than not refuse help, which can lead to bigger issues. When something doesn’t feel right, let someone know your feelings so you can get the help that you need and deserve. This will increase your overall self-awareness, which can get you far in life!
Use Your Voice
The worst thing you can do for yourself when you are stressed is to hold it all inside. Finding someone who you are close to, such a close friend, teammate, coach, or family member to express your feelings is great to release all of the negative tension within the body. Seeking help and advice from a counselor or therapist works too if you want someone who is unbiased. They don’t necessarily have to be someone who can give advice, but rather someone who is willing to listen. If you aren’t comfortable with expressing your feelings to someone, writing your feelings on a piece of paper works just as well. If you really want to get rid of all of your feelings and emotions, take the paper and throw it in the trash after you are done. I promise it works, and you’ll feel amazing afterwards!
Find What Makes You Happy
It is really easy to let your emotions get the best of you when you aren’t feeling your best mentally. Instead of dwelling on the negative, find someone or something that sparks your positivity. Find some time to hang out with your friends or find another hobby that you enjoy. Every athlete needs time to tune out from sport every once in a while, so give your mind time to recuperate and let loose! There is more to life than playing sports and being an athlete, so don’t let yourself miss out on what life has to offer. You are only in college for about 4 years of your life— make the best of it!
Don’t Dwell Over Your Mistakes
Nobody is perfect. Even the best athletes in the world makes mistakes. You don’t see athletes like Simone Biles or Michael Phelps having a pity party every time they don’t succeed. Failing is how people succeed. The best way to learn is to learn from your mistakes, so don’t let your failures get to you. It will only make you stronger in the end, and you’ll be amazed with what you can accomplish with a little patience. If you do find yourself getting a little worked up, take a moment to soak it in and let it all go. Do what is best for your team or group and focus on what you can do to improve in the future.
I could go on forever about ways to cope with stress and anxiety, but everyone is different in how they handle the negatives. As an athlete, I know how hard it can be to hold back feelings and emotions. As we approach our first meet of the season, the tension can become unbearable at times. Take a few deep breathes, and you can conquer just about anything. You can do anything that you put your mind to! Until next time…