3 Stress Relief Tips For Student Athletes
September 5, 2013
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Many student athletes have a hard time balancing all of their responsibilities. It is common for athletes to have higher stress levels than traditional students, especially if they fear they cannot make the grades necessary for them to stay eligible to play. This might be because you feel pulled in different directions – by your coaches, instructors or teammates – and you aren’t sure how to prioritize your workload.
According to the NCAA, stress produces symptoms that are similar to anxiety disorders. It produces both physiological and psychological symptoms that can impact your sleeping and eating habits, your relationships and your performance – both in the classroom and on the field.
At Briarcliffe, we want our athletes to perform well in all arenas including the classroom. To manage your busy life and meet all of your goals, try these stress relief tips that can help you organize your workload and enjoy your education
1. Identify Your Stressor
Melinda Smith and Robert Segal of the non-profit resource group Help Guide recommend that the first step towards managing your stress is to identify the exact source of your stress. They say that the “true sources of stress aren’t always obvious and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings and behaviors.”
If you are a first-year student, your true source of stress may be homesickness, transition anxiety or loneliness. With your athletics and course requirements on top of those feelings, you could easily feel overwhelmed.
To identify your stressor, ask yourself:
- When was the last time I relaxed?
- Am I always explaining away my stress as temporary?
- Do I consider stress an integral part of my academic and athletic career? Is it part of my personality?
- Do I blame my stress on other people or on events?
- Do I view my stress as normal or unexceptional?
Until you understand the source of your stress, Smith and Segal argue it is beyond your control. Identifying it allows you to develop habits to counter your specific stressor – and it also allows you to see that there are certain aspects of your situation that you cannot control.
2. Learn How to Manage Your Time
You have to go to class at a specific time. You have to go to practice at a specific time. Why not write down your schedule and block out specific times to study as well?
Time management might be the most effective way to combat your stress.
A great technique is to get a day planner and plotting out your day. Write down the times of your classes, practices and any other requirements. If your team always eats dinner together after evening practice, write that down. If your instructor has open office hours and you want to attend, write that down.
Once you’ve put in all the things you need to do, you can see how much time you have for homework and for the things that you want to do. Making time to have fun with new friends is also important – and a good way to unwind when you’re feeling stressed. Include fun activities in your planner as well.
3. Get Enough Rest
Recruiting Realities blogger Juliana says that plenty of rest is “one of the most effective and important things you can do to stay on top of your game both physically and mentally.” Your schedule is demanding; we understand. And although regular exercise can help reduce your stress, it’s still important for you to sleep at least 7 hours a night.
Quality rest restores the body, mind and spirit. Juliana notes, “Being well-rested is one of the best ways to ensure a quality performance in both your sport and academically.” It also boosts your immune system – meaning you’re less likely to get sick and miss classes or practice.
Some students work best late at night, and you might have to work later into the night on homework if you have evening practices for your sports. If this is you, don’t skimp on sleeping. You can go to bed at a later hour if you leave time for naps between classes or before practice.
For more information on balancing your academic and athletic demands at Briarcliffe, talk to your coach and your advisor.