5 ways to prioritize your mental health as a student athlete

For many athletes, the upcoming fall season means the return to both school and sports. With busy class schedules, extracurriculars and daily practices just around the corner, it's easy to become overwhelmed. If you're transitioning from the off-season to regular training, here are some tips for maintaining your physical and mental health.

1. Stick to a schedule
Oftentimes, the hardest part of being an athlete is balancing your school life with your sports. From coordinating rides to washing your uniform for the next game day, keeping up with your daily routine can be difficult. One solution is to write down your activities for the day in a planner. Be sure to include practice times, designated study seshes, what to pack for school, who you might be carpooling with and *definitely* what you need for competition day. 

2. Factor in nutrition
It's no secret that food fuels an athlete's drive. Good nutrition is just as important for your mind. Maintaining a balanced, nutritional diet is paramount to sustaining an active lifestyle. This means consuming a range of fruits, vegetables, carbs, protein and healthy fats. When you're on the go, remember to grab a snack before or after practice. We recommend protein bars, trail mix and fresh fruits and veggies.

3. Prioritize rest
When it comes to being an athlete, rest is just as important as training. While you may feel pressured by parents, teammates and coaches to push yourself physically and mentally, training too hard can lead to injuries, low self-esteem and burnout. By abiding to your limits and taking necessary breaks, you'll be able to show up to practice feeling energized and game-ready. Only *you* know your physical limits, and it's essential that you give your body time to recover.

4. Have fun
Between intensive workouts and studying for tests, it's easy to forget to have fun! If you're not enjoying your sport, try taking a break or experimenting with another activity. It's never too late to find the team or sport that makes you genuinely happy. It might be hard to drop a sport you've competed in for years, but trying something new might bring you joy. Additionally, surrounding yourself with people who support your interests is key to maintaining good mental health.

5. Stay hydrated
Although staying hydrated is crucial for everyone, it's especially important for athletes. When you train, your body is more prone to dehydration, which can leave you feeling sick or drowsy after practice. Drinking water helps maintain your body's energy levels and manage stress and anxiety. Whether you're gearing up for a tough game or taking a rest day, remember to stay hydrated.

Tell us how your balance sports and school on Twitter @girlslifemag!

Check out these other posts about mindfulness:
🧠 4 apps to help your mental health
🧠 A 3-step guide to add meditation into your busy schedule
🧠 Why you need to incorporate a daily routine into your life

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by Sydney Gaw | 8/18/2022