As health consultants, our athletes depend on us to support them through their recovery. We believe an athlete’s mental health has a significant impact on their physical health and recovery process. Athletes are faced with an overwhelming pressure to perform, whether it comes from outside influence or their own inner expectations of themselves. Athletes are susceptible to anxiety, depression, OCD, sleep disorders, PTSD and more. These tend to be higher among injured athletes. In order to work through injuries, mental health needs to be considered as part of their treatment. We support our athletes through every step of recovery and measure their progress along the way. Sometimes you may feel like you are not improving, but numbers do not lie.
The Importance of Talking About Mental Health Among Athletes
Talking about mental health among athletes is necessary for many reasons. Athletes may try to hide their true mental and emotional stage. As an athlete, you may be a tough person and think you can push through what you are feeling like you push through a workout. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. The best way to free yourself from what is on your mind is by talking about it. The more athletes choose to talk about their struggles, the more normalized it can become for others to feel comfortable speaking up.
Although the saying “suck it up” is often used in sports, it is not a healthy way to go about your athletic career. This mentality is what causes injuries to become career ending and for mental health issues to get out of control for an individual. The best way to talk about what you are going through is to first choose someone you know is supportive of your mental health. That may be a family member or a professional. If you do tell someone how you feel and they do not take you seriously, do not stop seeking help, just ask someone more qualified. Opening up about your mental health has been shown in studies to lower a person’s stress and increase their happiness. If this is something that is holding you back as an athlete, it needs to be addressed.
Steps Athletes Can Take Toward Improving Mental Health
No matter what level you are as an athlete, every person has a breaking point. Working on your mental health can make all the difference when you have to overcome an injury. Your brain is a powerful tool in healing your body, so you need to adjust your thought pattern to make it work in your favor.
If you are experiencing a decline in performance and a decrease in your mental health, consider taking steps to get help. Consider setting aside time for yourself, talking to a friend, getting together with friends and family, and practicing mindfulness.
Setting Aside Time for Yourself
You may not realize how little time you have given yourself outside of your sport. Training and competition take up a lot of time. It is important to set aside some time for yourself where you can rest and recover, even if you are not injured. It is important to have interests outside of your sport as well. Even the highest performing athletes in the world have to take a rest day and spend it doing something that is not related to their sport.
Confiding in a Friend
Having a friend or teammate to talk to about what you are struggling with can make a very big difference. Athletes support other athletes, especially in team sports. Your friends will want to help you work through whatever it is that is bothering you. Talking to a friend can greatly reduce your stress because as an outside observer, they can offer you some insightful perspective.
Getting Together with Friends and Family
Socializing with friends and family is always a good way to treat your mental health. As human beings, we need to feel connected and the only way to do that is to be around others. This is not something you have to do all the time, but finding a group of people you really enjoy being around is very good for you. You can get together with more than one person or keep it one on one and catch up over lunch or dinner. Socializing will help you destress and is shown to improve conditions of depression and burnout.
Being mindful and even practicing meditation is a beneficial coping skill. Mindful meditation consists of deep breathing exercises that allow your body to calm down. You can do this daily. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, you will have an easier time dealing with your emotions if you are in a calm state.
We support our athletes through the entire process of injury and well beyond. We also encourage anyone who is struggling with mental health to seek out a counselor or a therapist. Receiving valuable insight into why you feel the way you do can give you the answers you need to recover. If you are an athlete suffering from injury, our services, treatments, and team are here for you every step of the way.