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Handling Anxiety as a College Athlete

My Story
Anxiety is something that I used to think was not real, or not important. Or, something that if it was real, it could never happen to me and just isn’t a big deal. I now realize I was wrong and naïve for having this viewpoint. 

According to Athletes for Hope, 33% of college students experience some form of mental health condition. Whether this is depression, anxiety, or some other condition, 1 in 3 college students are struggling with mental health. Out of this group, only 30% seek help. Yet, among college athletes with a mental health condition, only 10% seek help. I am one of those 10%. I am here to share how I’ve learned to handle my anxiety in hopes that it will help people who are going through the same thing.

Related: Handling Depression as a College Athlete

Acknowledge what you are feeling is not normal
This was one of the harder things for me to do. I did not want to admit what I was feeling was not normal, nevermind that I was struggling with anxiety. I would just play it off and tell myself that I was fine. “Just a little stressed” or “nervous.” In doing that, it only made it worse, and over time it was ruining relationships with people I never wanted to lose.

Related: How to Handle ADHD as an Athlete

Talk to someone
Whether it be your parents, roommates, siblings, teammates – talk to someone. It does not have to be a therapist. Just talking to someone who cares about you and is willing to listen will help. Talking to someone allows you to say how you are feeling while knowing you have support from the person on the other end.

Related: Webinar: The Silent Struggle – Mental Health of College Athletes

Slow down and breathe
I know when you are feeling anxious your mind starts to race, you can’t think straight, and you might start to get jittery and freak out. This is all normal, but slow down. Step back and get all of your thoughts in order. Breath, the world is not ending, even though it feels like it might be. Once you are able to slow down and get your thoughts in order, focus on one thing at a time. 

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