Article Written By: Taylor Valentine
Asst. Coach, Centre College
Top 5 Ways to Identify Stress and Anxiety as an Athlete
There are many different ways to identify stress and anxiety in athletes. Being a part of college athletics can be very stressful with the demanding schedule that athletes have to deal with. We can look at this in a lot of different ways: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual. All of these have an impact on our everyday lives.
Emotions would be at the top of my list for many reasons: Copying effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships. People want to be able to fit in and they want to be able to make sure they’re liked by others. In today’s world, I see this as a big struggle for a lot of young athletes because they’re still trying to find their own identity as who they are as people. Kids wanting to fit in is a big problem because they’re having to act a different way than they normally would.
Some people wear their emotions on their sleeve and you’re able to tell pretty quickly what type of day that person is having. People that keep their emotions wrapped up inside are the people that I care for the most because they shouldn't be scared to express themselves. Also, people that show real emotions are people that just invest in themselves with everything that they have.
Occupying pleasant, stimulating surroundings that support well-belling. The environmental part is something that a lot of people miss and they don’t see this being part of the problem. Your environment determines everything about how you act, what you say, and do.
If you’re in a healthy, good environment with supportive people, eating healthy, and living in good conditions your life is going to be pretty good. If it's the opposite for you and things are flipped and they aren’t good then your environmental setting isn’t going to be very healthy for you. People have the option of what life-style they want to live, the choice is up to you what you want to do.
This can be a big stress for some families as they try to help their student-athlete find the right fit. We all know that money talks at the end of the day, but that shouldn’t be the driving factor. Your main focus should be what you want the outcome to look like and not so much the result.
Satisfaction with current and future financial situations determines your life's outcome. Think about it like a 3 legged stool:
If you can manage your money in these three ways your life will never be stressful because you will know where things are going at all times.
Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills. People who buy into their growth as a human will find ways that build their toolboxes to help them be successful. People who have some street smarts are people who typically look outside the box and see things a little differently than most people. People who push themselves to be better and not average, are the people that are self-driven. Being able to help others see things in a different light is also something that is very important.
Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy nutrition, and adequate sleep. This is probably one of the most important points compared to all the other ones. Physical activity is something that is underrated and people don’t realize that this is something that they need every day in their life.
Sleep is important and that's what keeps you fresh throughout the week so that you can dominate the week. People that take care of their hearts, mind, and souls are people that are driven to do great things.
Developing a sense of connection and belonging. People who have really good social skills are some of your higher-end people in business. People have to come out of their comfort zone when they’re in social situations that they aren’t used to being in. When people can communicate really well those people typically can fit into whatever social environment they need. Coaches, CEOs, and owners all have very good social skills because they have to talk to a variety of different people.
Expanding one’s sense of purpose and meaning in life. This is a choice and sometimes this choice comes a little sooner than others, it's not a race. People that are dealing with stress or anxiety and who have a very good spiritual life typically figure things out in a positive light knowing that they have God watching down over them and helping with their struggles. Everyone’s walk of life is different, as some people have it really easy and things come to them very easily, whereas others' path is different and it might be like a roller coaster where you have some lows and you have some highs in your life.
When dealing with stress and anxiety it is important to write down your thoughts. Writing down what’s making you anxious gets in out of your head and can make it less stressful. You can also go back and reflect on the things that helped you if something similar happens again. Your mindset and determination and how you think and act determine a lot of the outcomes that happen.