Balancing athletics, living through a pandemic, focusing on graduating, and trying to maintain a positive mental state feels like it is a lot harder than it should be.
Being a part of a college sports team is something I have always wanted to do. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to continue playing the sport I love while also working towards my future. Every time I step on the field, at practice or during a game, I cherish the moments I get to spend with my team. My athletic career will be coming to an end in May and I always try to make the most of the time I have playing with my last team. It is important that I make these last few weeks worth it, especially considering COVID; we are not guaranteed the rest of our season.
Weekly tests have made it somewhat easier this past year. It helps ease some stress, but there are always the “what if” scenarios. The pandemic has had an incredible impact on everyone around the world, but with the vaccines being distributed there is still hope that we will eventually be back to a “normal” life.
May has become a finish line, and I am not sure if I can make it. I want to be able to finish, I just don’t want to accept the fate of graduating. I have always struggled in school and never really enjoyed it. Now, I am not sure if I am ready to leave.
Change is hard for me, adjusting to new places, people, and situations has always scared the crap out of me. But the world around me is changing everyday and sometimes even watching the leaves change can be too much. My cap and gown are staring at me, but I can’t bring myself to make eye contact. I want to move onto the better things in life, I just didn’t think it would come this soon.
With the thoughts of this being my last softball season, of getting sick, moving towards the future, it is easy to push my mental state to the side. Being able to play to my full potential is something I strive for so I don’t feel as if I let myself down. In the classroom, it is highly important to complete assignments, get good grades, and do well.
I want my last year in school to be successful.
Mental health can be neglected because focusing on “bigger picture” items is the main focus. Burnout is real and anyone can be subjected to it. I’ve written an article about grounding before, which is when you physically sit, stand, or lay on the ground and focus on your surroundings. Anyone can do this for how long they want or need. Besides this I wanted to share some things that help reduce burnout.
Journaling is one of the easiest, but most nit-picky, strategies to use. For the most beneficial results, it is important to set aside a time everyday to write. It could be as simple as making yourself a to-do list or going into details about your feelings. This helps transfer thoughts from your mind onto a tangible surface.
When I am stressed and journal, it often takes the constant worried thoughts and mutes them for a period of time. There are also different types of journaling. The classic thoughts to paper method works well and there are even books that prompt you to do exercises each day. An example would be writing harsh thoughts in pencil and then writing positive thoughts over those in bright markers/sharpies.
Meditation is another useful technique. There are an abundance of apps that can be downloaded on phones and laptops to choose from. They tend to help me the most when I first wake up or go to bed. Timing is key for me because it is like a fresh start and a way to clear my mind. This method tends to help me the most when I first wake up or go to bed because that is when I find myself struggling the most. I tend to do most of my thinking when I am tired or when my mind needs to wind down.
Spring is a great time to focus on mental health. When the sun is shining and it is easier to spend time outside, serotonin is more easily produced. Taking advantage of going outside to get fresh air and sunlight is beneficial in many ways. It is scientifically proven that when you engage in more physical activity, it promotes healthier, happier behaviors.
Overall, it is okay if the only thing you do one day is nothing. Off days can seem unproductive but it is completely fine. The body and mind needs time to rest, just like when we sleep it allows the brain to develop. Off days can help get you grip of everything and bring you back to reality. At the end of the day, you have to do what your brain needs most, even if that means staying in and watching T.V.
Be sure to listen to body and power through these last few weeks!