Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s something that should be taken seriously. For many people, participating in sports can help improve mental health by providing a sense of community, boosting self-esteem, and relieving stress. If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or any other related symptoms, using sports as a way to stay mentally fit can be incredibly beneficial.
In this blog post, we will discuss seven helpful tips that will keep you mentally fit through sports.
Let’s dive right in!
1. Find a sport or activity that you enjoy
This is important because you’re more likely to stick with something if you actually enjoy doing it. If running isn’t your thing, don’t force yourself to do it just because you think it’s “good for you.” There are plenty of other options out there, so find something that makes you happy and stick with it consistently. Even on days when you’re not in the mood, it’s easier to be consistent if the activity is something you look forward to.
That being said, you may need to experiment a bit to find what you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
More importantly, finding a sport or activity that can aid in your mental health journey is key. For example, Jiu Jitsu and mental health are known to go hand in hand and provide plenty of complimentary benefits.
2. Join a team or community
If you’re struggling with anxiety, participating in a team sport can help you learn how to cope with your anxiety in a healthy way and make friends who understand what you’re going through. Being a part of a team can also boost your self-esteem and provide a sense of belonging.
There are plenty of recreational leagues out there for all different kinds of sports, so find one that interests you and give it a shot!
If team sports aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options. There are running groups, cycling groups, hiking groups, obstacle course races, etc. that can provide the same sense of community and belonging.
3. Set realistic goals for yourself
It’s important to set goals that are achievable and realistic. Trying to do too much too soon can be overwhelming and lead to discouragement.
Start small and work your way up. For example, if you’re just starting to run, don’t try to run a marathon your first time out! Start with a goal of running for 20 minutes three times a week and increase your time and frequency as you get more comfortable.
The same goes for other sports and activities. If you’re just starting out, don’t try to do things that are too far outside of your comfort zone. Ease into it and give yourself time to adjust.
Striving to accomplish your goals will not only help you to stay motivated and focused, but it’ll allow you to build confidence as you baby-step your way towards becoming a mental health warrior.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Focus on the process, not the outcome. If you’re learning a new sport or you’re not well-versed in the game or activity you’re engaging in, it’s okay to ask for help! No one is born knowing how to do everything, and it’s perfectly normal to need assistance.
It can be helpful to find a coach or mentor who can help you learn the ropes and give you pointers along the way.
Not only will this help improve your skills, but it’ll also give you the chance to build a relationship with someone who can provide support and encouragement.
5. Use sports as a way to boost self-esteem
If you’re experiencing low self-esteem, using sports and the great outdoors as a way to boost your confidence is an excellent idea. When you engage in physical activity, your body releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
As you start to see improvements in your performance, it’ll give you a sense of accomplishment and pride. These positive feelings will help to reframe any negative thoughts or feelings you have about yourself.
Keep in mind that it’s okay to have off days. Everyone does! Just because you don’t perform as well as you’d like one day doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Pick yourself up and try again tomorrow.
This leads me to our next point.
6. Take Plenty of Breaks
Overexerting yourself is not only bad for your physical health, but it can also be detrimental to your mental health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a break.
It’s important to listen to your body and give yourself the time you need to recover. This may mean taking a day off from working out or participating in your chosen activity.
You may also need to scale back your intensity level or the amount of time you’re participating in order to prevent burnout. Don’t be afraid to take things at a slower pace if that’s what you need.
Another option could be to step aside for a few minutes and practice some deep breathing. This will help you mentally refocus and get back to it.
Remember: You want to baby-step it to prevent overwhelm and remain consistent for the long term.
The bottom line is that sports can be extremely beneficial for mental health, but it’s important to find a balance that works for you.
7. Stay Positive
No matter how tough things seem, stay positive. This can be easier said than done, but there are ways to help you through the tough times.
Try to set realistic expectations. If you’re just starting out, don’t expect to be a pro right away! It takes time and practice to improve.
As you progress, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments! Even if they seem small, it’s important to take the time to acknowledge your successes. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.
Lastly, don’t give up! Consistency is a key ingredient to maintaining positive emotions. If you stick with it, you will see the results you’re looking for.
We hope these tips will serve as a helpful guide for you on your journey to mental fitness! Just remember progress, not perfection. And most importantly, have fun!
You got this!