Children's Hospital Colorado: Time Management and How to Handle Stress in Season
Student athletes have a lot on their calendars with the typical schedule: waking up, breakfast on the go, school, practices (school and club teams), social media of all variations, dinner, homework, family, and bedtime. Athletes and their parents learn there are not as many hours in the day as they would like. Time management and handling stress become crucial skills to student athletes at any age. But, before we get into time management and how to handle stress, let’s talk about what stress is and how it affects young athletes.
What is stress?
There are two related ways we can look at stress:
1. We use the term to describe situations that put a physical or physiological demand on us.
2. We use the term to refer to our mental, emotional, and behavioral responses to these demanding situations.
So how is this going to affect me as a student athlete?
Lower enjoyment- the sport isn’t as much fun as it used to be, becomes more of a chore, which can lead to Burnout if you don’t enjoy the sport anymore and don’t want to play. You might come to resent your teammates and coaches, and eventually drop out.
Poor performance- high-stress athletes who have less control over their stress have higher levels of anxiety and fear of failure, which leads to poor performance. This can become a viscous cycle of anxiety, poor performance, and increased anxiety.
Injury and illness- stress affects the entire metabolism and immune system. The more stressed you are the more likely you are to become ill or injured.
Okay, how are student athletes supposed to handle stress?
Control the controllable: Part of managing your time is decreasing stress through the decisions you make. Don’t focus on the external factors; focus on the internal factors. Start to gage your self-awareness because when you are focused on yourself you can start to decrease stress and increase confidence. There are 5 variables YOU have 100% control of all the time: Thoughts, Feelings, Decisions, Attitude, Effort
Quick tips to help with stress:
1. Rest and Nutrition: Always monitor sleeping and eating patterns as these have a direct effect on stress. Regular patterns will help keep your stress level in check.
2. Time Management: Keep a planner and highlight the key events: games, tournaments, exams, papers, important social events. Plan your week ahead of time! Preparing helps maintain a schedule and reduce stress.
3. Maintain a positive attitude: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Learn from the experience, let it go, and move on.
4. Learn to de-stress: Do healthy activities you love outside of your sport!
5. Have a support system: Surround yourself with people who care about your well-being. This can be friends, family, teammates, coaches, teachers, sport psychologists, or neutral third parties. Know who you can talk to if you are becoming stressed.
A small amount of stress helps us focus and often allows athletes to perform with an extra surge of energy, but remember to control your stress and manage your time before it gets to be too much! If you ever have any questions about managing stress feel free to contact Virginia Winn, MSc, ATC at [email protected].
Christina Wessel, M.S. Sport Psychology