Athletes have to endure copious amounts of mental stresses from both training and competition. It is imperative that sporting individuals acknowledge how important their mental health is to avoid a disorder or problem developing. In order to keep a strong mentality and a healthy relationship with sport, it is important to take the time to de-stress and relax.
Look after your body
Recovery is perhaps one of the most important aspects within any training regimen to ensure that an athlete stays fit and healthy. Being forced to take time off due to an injury or illness can have a serious negative impact on an individual’s mental health.
Take the time to fuel properly, stay hydrated, and get enough rest. This will enable your body to physically recovery from any exercise exertions and facilitate consistent training.
Maintain a good life balance
Finding the balance between training, competition, working or studying, and socialising can be difficult. More often than not, athletes will prioritise their sport to the detriment of everything else. This is not healthy nor sustainable.
It is important to identify a manageable schedule that maintains a good balance between all your commitments. If, at any point, you feel overwhelmed by your sport, realise that it is ok to slow things down and take the time to re-evaluate your priorities.
Do not be afraid to take a step back
Overtraining syndrome occurs in athletes who are training too hard and not taking the time to recuperate properly. Symptoms can include; fatigue, insomnia, severe muscle soreness, loss of enthusiasm and motivation, and a significant decrease in performance. Overtraining syndrome should be taken seriously as it can cause detrimental effects to an individual’s mental health.
Remember, being an athlete is about much more than pushing yourself to perfection. Being an athlete is about listening to your body and knowing when enough is enough.
Know when to ask for help
Athletes are expected to be strong and dedicated individuals that embody the perfect human. This very stigma leaves them feeling as though needing help is a sign of weakness, and many athletes will not seek mental health help.
It is important to recognise that it is always ok to require additional support. After all, performance is never worth jeopardising your mental health.
Remember why you started
It is easy for athletes to get fixated on their present training or solely focus on their future goals and aspirations. This can lead to constant internal pressure and unnecessary stress.
It is important to remember that your sport should be something that you enjoy. As soon as it begins to become another stress or pressure, take a step back. Enjoyment should always feature in your training and racing, and sport should always be a positive thing in your life.
About the author: Laura Smith is an elite-level athlete and has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.