Emotional Well-Being for Athletes of All Ages

Athletes need to pay attention to emotional well-being as well as their physical health whether they play on a summer travel team, participate in high school or college-level sports or play on professional teams. It’s easy to fall victim to negativity, self-doubt and team drama, which is why it’s important to function from a position of emotional strength and not weakness.

The health and positivity that results from your thoughts, emotions, actions and experiences can help keep you on an even keel. Improve your emotional well-being while traveling and competing – identify and practice the following skills. Remember to be patient and persistent because new skills take time to take hold and become a normal part of your routine.

  • Be mindful of the world around you. Pay attention to your senses – the sights, sounds, smells and even tastes that can calm and relieve stress. Keep a couple of favorite things around.
  • Engage your imagination to picture a person, place or time where you feel peaceful and content.
  • Use these questions when faced with challenging thoughts: “Is this thought grounded in facts or emotions?” “Am I exaggerating what’s actually happening?” “How are others responding to similar situations?”
  • Consider journaling. Write down your thoughts and practice different responses to use when faced with stressful situations.
  • Give yourself grace when necessary. Maybe it makes sense to respond with certain emotions, but what do you want to accomplish instead? Engage in positive self-talk – as a human being, not just as an athlete.
  • Pay attention to your physical well-being, which affects your emotional well-being. Eat healthy; drink plenty of water or low-sugar sports drinks to stay hydrated; and prioritize your sleep schedule.

Competing at a high level is exhilarating and demanding, all at the same time. Taking time to concentrate on both your emotional and physical well-being makes the difference between surviving and thriving.

Read Part II, Emotional Well-Being: Next Level Tips for Athletes for more information and tips.

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