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As a young athlete, it can be easy to push yourself too hard and neglect your mental health. But practicing self-care and taking care of your mental wellbeing will help you cope with the pressure of balancing academics, sports, and any other extracurricular activities on your plate. Plus, self-care can make you a better athlete! For example, studies show that mindfulness training exercises can enhance athletic performance and improve pain management.
Are you ready to enjoy the mental health benefits of self-care? Here are some tips from life and career coach Julie Morris to help you maximize the positive mental health effects of your self-care routine
Create a Calming Atmosphere at Home
Whether you realize it or not, your home can impact your mental health in a number of ways. For example, Thrive Global explains that household clutter can be mentally exhausting. By decluttering and organizing your home, you can make your space more peaceful. If your home environment is already fairly minimal, simply cleaning and opening the windows to let fresh air in can inject some positivity into your space. You could also try redecorating your home with calming colors and art that elicits positive feelings of calm.
Step Away from Stressful Work
Job stress can impact your mental health even when you’re not at work. If your job is creating unnecessary stress in your life, consider looking for a new role! Keep in mind that some fear and anxiety are normal when you’re getting accustomed to a new job, so don’t let this discomfort hold you back. Be prepared to push through discomfort to create new, positive experiences that facilitate personal growth!
Make Time for Rest in Your Training Schedule
As a college athlete, you likely have a great deal of energy. Taking time off to rest when you’d rather train harder can seem counterintuitive. However, rest is important for restoring your mental capacity to focus and cope with stress. Make room in your schedule for downtime. Try to avoid activities that stimulate your brain during these rest periods and just let your mind wander. Medical News Today explains that, like rest, sleep is also important for maintaining cognitive skills, including attention, memory, learning, and emotional regulation.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
When you spend a lot of time exercising, it’s easy to get dehydrated. Did you know that dehydration can increase your risk of anxiety and depression? Research shows that lower water intake is associated with increased tension and mental fog while drinking more water tends to improve mood significantly. Carry a water bottle with you during the day—not just when you’re training—and try to sip from it regularly. You could even set alarms throughout the day reminding you to drink water as you work to develop the habit.
Try Mindfulness Meditation
Whether you’re an athlete or not, mindfulness meditation will provide a variety of benefits for your mental health. A mindfulness practice involves learning to direct your focus on the present moment, noticing your sensations, thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judging them as either positive or negative. This practice has been shown to reduce depression, improve emotional regulation, ease anxiety, and even boost physical health. Mindfulness can also help improve your athletic performance by preventing overexertion and encouraging positive self-talk.
Self-care offers all kinds of valuable mental health benefits for college athletes. If you’re feeling the pressure of juggling sports and schoolwork, create a self-care routine to ease stress and improve your mental resilience. Taking care of your mental health is one of the best ways to ensure you will thrive as an athlete and student!
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