Teens and college-aged students have a lot to deal with every day. There’s a lot to handle, from homework and studying for exams to having a social life and preparing for the future. Student-athletes, however, have another layer of mental strain placed on them. They have to train, practice, manage what they eat, and balance their schedules to make sure they can get everything done.
So, it should be no surprise that student-athletes often struggle with issues like depression and anxiety more than students who don’t play sports.
If you’re a student-athlete and struggling with your mental well-being, let’s cover some of the added stressors sports can cause and how you can find healthy ways to cope.
Are Sports Too Stressful?
Being a student-athlete can be an enriching experience, and there are plenty of benefits to playing sports and staying active. But, they can also negatively impact your mental health if you’re focused so much on the competition that it becomes an obsession. If you lose, it might affect your self-esteem.
You might even feel excluded at times, from your teammates or from other friends who don’t play sports but think you don’t have time for them because of your busy schedule. It’s hard to balance everything when you already have a full schedule. Combining those factors with the physical exhaustion playing a sport can cause, and it’s easy to feel down and depressed.
What Can You Do?
With so many other stressors in the life of an average student, how can you handle the stress and anxiety of being a student-athlete?
First, make sure you still love the sport you’re playing. Even if you’re in a high level of competition, you should still be having fun. If you dread going to practice or resent the way your sport has impacted your life, it might be time to reconsider if it’s right for you.
If you want to keep playing, the best thing you can do is find ways to manage your stress. Some of the easiest ways to do that include
- Prioritizing sleep
- Creating a schedule and honing your time management skills
- Making time for social activities away from sports
- Practicing self-care every day
Don’t be afraid to try different things to reduce your stress. Things like mindfulness and meditation are great for relaxation. Even if you’ve never tried them before, it’s not too late to make them a part of your daily routine. When you try new techniques, you’ll eventually find something that works well.
If you find that you’re really struggling, reach out to your resources. Most college campuses across the country have a mental health and wellness program. Some even have on-campus therapists or counselors that can help you work through your struggles and offer effective coping solutions.
You don’t have to give up being a student-athlete to deal with stress and anxiety. But, finding ways to manage it while you’re trying to balance everything in your life is important. Take the time to understand the source(s) of your stress, and use the suggestions listed here to handle it in healthy ways.