If a young athlete breaks an arm or twists an ankle, we understand the need to recover, to take some time off to rest and rejuvenate. Do we use this same approach when it comes to mental health?
Young athletes may face the same pressures and anxieties as other non-athlete students. Their strength, athleticism, and agility promotes a healthy lifestyle but health isn’t only about physical well-being– psychological wellness is equally important. Our thoughts, behaviors, and actions are so deeply intertwined with our physical abilities. When the mind is enduring stress, the body will most likely manifest stress as well.
Athletes, in particular, become accustomed to working under stressful situations. Whether it’s pushing through another drill on the court or finding a last reserve of strength to push past a competitor on the field, athletes often push their bodies to their limits because of their drive to succeed. This can lead to significant stress, of body, mind, and spirit. Ongoing stress that isn’t effectively managed can lead to mental health disorders and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Mental health issues are commonly masked and often go untreated, often as a result of the stigma, or being seen as “weak”.
At Start My Wellness, we value treating our patients holistically, caring for both their psychological and physical well-being. Our staff are trained to help patients develop an enhanced skill set to improve their self-esteem, reduce symptoms of mental illness, and learn strategies to build resilience and navigate complex challenges.
Asking for help is a sign of strength, never a sign of weakness. We are here to help and support you along your unique journey.
How can we be more mindful about ways to support our athletes?
1. Recognize the signs.
Athletes may be struggling if they exhibit the following signs.
- Poor sleep and eating habits
- Poor sports performance
- Lack of commitment to school work
- Sour attitude towards life in general
2. Build awareness of common stressors.
Any sudden change in mood or well-being could be a sign that your athlete may be struggling.
- Engaging in unrealistic body expectations
- Holding up to the pressure of being talented
- Grounding their identity around being an athlete and believing failing in a sport means that they are failing as a person
- Learned habits that can lead to perfectionism
- Grieving the sport they once played
3. Consider talking to a professional.
Talking about issues is the first step in developing strategies to build a happier, less stressful life.
- Provides opportunity to engage in open and honest dialogue
- Allows for reflection and deeper understanding of issues with an enriched perspective
- Builds the motivation to enact positive change and improve the quality of our life
We go to the gym to build muscle and increase stamina. Therapy is its own type of gym, a “mental gym”, or space to work out our thoughts and feelings to enhance the emotional muscle that prevents burnout and improves well-being.
Getting kids and teens the help they need to manage their stress, anxiety, or other mental health concerns will not only allow sports and activities to become more fun and manageable but helping young people build healthy coping skills, to learn to care for both the physical and physiological components of their well-being, will help them design a more resilient life, both on and off the field.
We are by your side as you build your best life, both on and off the field!