5 Tips When Feeling Overwhelmed

Life as a student athlete is similar to holding two full-time jobs: one as a student and the other as an athlete. Both jobs take an enormous amount of time and energy. It’s hard to find balance.

Sometimes, taking care of yourself gets shoved to the back burner or forgotten about completely.

Picture this: You are up late at night trying to finish up homework, and you have a big game tomorrow. The day arrives, and you hand in your assignment with your best work. Then, later that day, after you finish the rest of your classes, you head to your game giving it your all. You get home late that night and get to sleep late. The next day comes quickly, and the work starts all over again. Sound familiar?

As time flies past, you learn how to deal with the time commitments and the workload. However, most of the time, you forget to listen to your body or give yourself a break. When you get tired and overwhelmed, your body and mind usually tell you.

Some Identifiers: 

  • You have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
  • You start eating everything in view – mostly craving carbs.
  • You forget to eat entirely, skipping meals.
  • Your grades seem to take a dip.
  • You feel fatigued all the time.
  • Your teachers and/or coaches ask if everything is ok.
  • Your friends tell you that you look terrible.
  • You’re irritable and your parents tell you so.
  • You fall asleep in class, especially remote classes. 😱
  • You have to have that cup of caffeine in the morning AND the afternoon.

I’m sure you have experienced one or two on the list and could probably add a few of your own.

Your mind and body are not lying to you. It’s time to take a break.

Woman with glasses, green shirt and jeans holding a coffee and reading a book while sitting in the grass

5 Ways to Take a Step Back

When you know things are building up and life is getting crazy, just take a step back and try one of these 5 things:

Unplug – Yes You Can! 

Put sports, homework, and the phone down. “What?” you ask. “I have no time to put these things down.” Yes, you can put them down at some point every day, even if it is for a short period of time. If you are short on time, some of these will work:

  • Look out the window.
  • Take a walk in nature.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Think about you and what you need in the moment or long-term.
  • Try something new.
  • Do something else, anything else.

These are things you can do in a short amount of time.

Did you know that the average person is on social media for roughly 2 hours and 18 minutes a day?  Check yourself and see if you can use some of those minutes just for you. Take back some of your time.

Feed Your Soul

What makes you tick? What gives you peace of mind? It could be a thought, place, person, or event. When you have a little more time, these are some things you can try:

  • Call someone who is a positive influence in your life.
  • Picture the vacation spot you’ll take when you get that break and research it.
  • Listen to your favorite music or podcast.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Read a good book.

Talk Positively to Yourself

Self-talk is one of the best ways to quickly refocus on yourself and let go of the moment that just passed. This technique can be used with or without time. You can even do some of these during competition:

  • Be nice to yourself.
  • Be positive with yourself.
  • Avoid negative thoughts.
  • Avoid other people, especially negative ones.
  • Give yourself a pat on the back. You are working hard!

Sporty woman in red pullover with arms open and head up just breathing

Take a Full Day Off

No, really. Have you ever taken a complete day off? Not just the afternoon or evening, but an entire day. I know, it’s hard, but it is also very healthy. You may not get days off too often, depending on the time of year, but, when you do, you should take them. The body and mind need recovery. Here are some suggestions:

  • Do things with family or friends.
  • Do things from the other lists above.
  • Sit in nature.
  • Create your “day off” rituals and make them yours.
  • Give yourself a treat that makes you happy.
  • Don’t forget to have some fun.


You can do all of the things listed above and still forget to breathe, especially when you get going fast. Breathing takes practice and work.

  • Learn breathing exercises.
  • Learn how to meditate if you don’t already know how to.
  • Get more sleep. You usually breathe normally when you sleep and are at rest.

Pick the things that work best for you and try them.  If you already engage in some of these activities, good for you.

The good thing is you can take control of your health and wellness. Make it important. Your body and your mind will thank you.

Taking a break is good for your mind, body, and soul, and it will probably increase your success around school and your sport. Find ways to take care of yourself. You are worth it.

The benefits of playing sports go way beyond your competitions. Take care of yourself while you build the athlete you were meant to be!

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