Being a dedicated athlete requires hours of physical and mental sacrifice, but just how much? In a 2007 study conducted by the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine at an unnamed university, 21% of the surveyed athletes reported symptoms of depression with their injuries. With mental health awareness growing, it is important we understand the relationship between physical injuries and mental well-being.
Spiritual health for athletes
As we grow through the stages of our lives, there comes a moment where ones mission in life is realized. For many, this occurs via a spiritual connection and is a crucial step towards recognizing your purpose. In fact, a strong spiritual connection and health can have a significant impact on an athlete’s morale. When an athlete goes down with a sports injury, their hard work, life purpose, and identity can all be lost. A confident and strong-willed athlete can lose his certainty and spiral into a dark place.
But with a strong spiritual base, an athlete can use that relationship to climb out of an unhealthy state of mind. And while there might not be a scientific procedure in place for your mind to assist your body in recovery, the mind still can play a role in your comeback with a placebo effect. A placebo effect is treatment due to the patient’s belief. A strong spiritual health can have that same effect on an injured athlete by encouraging positive thought and strong will.
The pressure of success
The identity of a hard-working athlete is usually tied around the sport or activity they excel at. Any success achieved in their life seems to be solely in relation to how successful the athlete is in their given sport. Elite athletes dream of using sports as a vehicle for a better tomorrow for them and their families. When this dream is compromised by an injury, it can take a major toll on an athlete’s mental well-being. Sometimes, an athlete can be the beacon of hope for a family or community. This can weigh heavily on the athlete and will be compounded anytime an obstacle presents itself. The pressure of success and identity play a significant role in an athlete’s mental health following an injury.
Heads up for mental health
The importance of sports and its consumption have become massively more popular in the last century. Because of our fandom and passion, we can sometimes see athletes as only physical beings on a court or field. But it is important to remember that there is a mental and spiritual side to the life of an athlete as well. As we begin to study and understand the relationship between physical and mental health in athletes, we can push towards new ways to help our athletes stay holistically healthy.
By Jess Walter