Stress is unfortunately a necessary part of life.
We all know what it feels like when you just have too much on your plate and not enough time to get it all done.
Some stress can be considered good for you, but when you have too much of it, it can be detrimental to your health and overall wellbeing.
As a student-athlete, I can remember my freshman year in college trying to figure out how to balance being a starter on the third the youngest team in the country, a business major, maintain somewhat of social life, and making sure I was staying sane.
In hindsight, I was stressed 24/7 and remember damn near wanting to quit and go home because of how much pressure I felt to excel.
Obviously, I made it through that time in my life, but I wish I would have some guidance on how to deal with all of it.
Here are 3 tips I've learned since then on how to better deal with stress:
Put it into perspective and stay present. Sometimes you gotta take a step back and really think deeply about what it is you're stressed about and whether or not it's something that can be easily resolved or will eventually pass with time. Every student-athlete has to balance a lot day to day but one overwhelming week of tests, practice, and a big game, doesn't equal an overwhelming life. Some things will just pass with time and it's important to understand the things you can control as well as the things you can't. Stay focused on what's in front of you right now and try not to look too far into the future.
Take deep breaths or take a break. Hustle culture will tell you that you can never stop working. It will tell you that there's no such thing as days off and if you stop working your competition will get ahead. I'll be the first to tell you how much BS that is. Of course, you have to work hard, but rest and relaxation is a crucial part of the grind as well. The next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed, if you have some downtime, just try sitting there for a while and do nothing. Doing nothing is very underrated these days as we all feel like we have to move 100mph at all times. If you can just sit and meditate or just spend time alone, it can be beneficial to helping you relive that stress you might be experiencing and refocus your mind.
- Don't judge yourself too hard. Most athletes have a high competitive drive and want to succeed in whatever it is they do. Over time that can be extremely draining. One bad practice doesn't make you a bad athlete. One missed assignment won't make you a failure. One miscue doesn't make you less capable. No one is perfect. Demand excellence from yourself, but just make sure your aim is not centered on perfection because there's no such thing.
We all know how tough life can get.
At the same time, a lot of it is how you choose to look at things.
If you can find the silver lining in what seems to be tough or stressful situations, then that optimism can be a huge difference-maker in how you operate daily.