Managing mental health within athletics

Managing mental health within athletics

As athletes, it is a fair assumption that if not all, then the vast majority of us, have made terrible decisions for our bodies at one time or another, for the sake of excelling in our sport. Over exercising, playing with an injury, eating too much, eating too little, not getting the right nutrition, lack of sleep, increase stress, and the list can go on and on. This is what athlete’s do, our brains and bodies are wired differently than the general population, it seems as if athletes are designed to be a little bit crazy. This is what makes athletes push the limits of their mind and body to make them great. That being said does not mean this type of mental and physical “crazy” is supposed to last a lifetime, or seep into other areas of your life. This type of drive and determination is excellent for sport, and even sometimes other areas of one’s life, as long as it is within reason. The saying, “everything is ok within reason” definitely applies here. Athletes are notorious for taking things a little bit too far, and sometimes out of control. So how do you know when it’s time to get help (or help someone else get help)?

  1. When someone starts talking about harming themselves, or others. Someone may just be kidding around, or joking, so inquire of their seriousness. If you feel slightly concerned that they may go through with what they speak of, tell a professional. Dial your local crisis or suicide hotline.
  2. When their negative or maladaptive behaviors start to infiltrate other areas of the person’s life, such as school, work, relationships or home.
  3. When you begin having health complications. Injury and diminished health is a way that the body uses to tell you that you need a break or a change in your routine.
  4. When other people start telling you that what you are doing is crazy, insane, or bad for you. While this is easy to brush off as an athlete, when outside sources begin to tell you these things, it’s time to start listening.  
  5. When one starts to ignore the little voice in your head saying, that’s not ok, too often. This is intuition speaking, and while it becomes easy to ignore as an athlete in order to push ones limits, when intuition no longer has a voice, it’s easy to have incorrect judgment.

If these statements apply to yourself, or someone you know, be gentle and help them, help themselves. It is best to not accuse them of these things, but simply tell them you are concerned as a friend, partner, family etc. and would feel better if you knew they were obtaining advisement from a professional. Be sure to remind them that you are there to support them, and will aid in any way you can. Express love to them, they will need it during this time. Next week we will address how to be a successful athlete, without damaging your future health.

Be kind to yourself this week,


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