Stress is a common feeling we all experience at times. Some people see stress as a negative but in fact a little bit of stress can be very useful. In rugby we can often use it to our advantage to help us run faster, tackle harder and perform to our best.
Knowing how to use stress to support our performance is important, but we also need to know when and how to switch off. Too much long-term stress can affect us mentally as well as impact on our physical health too.
If you find yourself feeling stressed constantly despite trying to relax, struggling to sleep or getting sick more often, you might need to look into some ways to better manage your stress.
Some of the other common signs of unhelpful stress are:
‘Good’ stress can feel similar to excitement, ‘nerves’ and a feeling of wanting to do well. However, being stressed for long periods of time can not only feel pretty average but it can also put strain on our bodies.
Lots of stress makes our heart work harder, can impact how well we sleep and make it tricky to cope with challenges, even small ones that might not usually bother us.
Learning how to manage stress can help reduce its impact on how we’re feeling and help us carry on with what we need to do.
Taking a small step or setting some achievable goals are things that you can control and can help get you on the road to feeling better. Have a look at some of the strategies below and pick one or two that you feel you can give a go.
The reasons why you feel stressed can be very different to your mates’. It might be speaking in public situations, stressing about fitness testing or worrying about your performances on the field. Knowing what makes you feel stressed can help you target where you need support.
Often we can feel ourselves starting to get run down, irritable and tired. If you feel yourself getting increasingly stressed, do something about it. This could mean taking a day off to rest, talking to a friend or booking in a massage or something you enjoy.
Getting caught with too many jobs to do and not enough time can be very stressful. Try focusing on one job at a time. Manage your week by using a calendar or diary and prioritise the things that are most important.
These three are known to disrupt sleep, make you feel more anxious and for some people increase their heart rate and blood pressure. If you’re already feeling stressed or know you are affected by these things then taking a break from them is a good move.
Stress is a common experience for a lot of people. If you don’t feel like you can cope with your stress on your own, or you feel like some support would be helpful, ask someone you trust.
Although it can sometimes seem impossible to control the way you’re feeling, there are some strategies you can use to calm your body’s response to stress. Yoga, deep breathing exercises, visualization and meditation are all great ways to slow things down and reduce feelings of stress.
If you’ve tried the strategies above and are still experiencing stress, or feel like some extra support would be helpful, there are plenty of people and places out there that are ready to help. Learning how to manage your stress can take time but getting on top of it now can make things a lot easier in the long run.
Speaking to trusted friends or family about how you’re feeling is a good way of making sure you’re well supported. Chances are they’ve experienced stress at some point in their lives too.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people you know or you think some professional help might be useful, there are lots of options out there. There’s a list of great support services here who will be able to help get you on the right track. Speaking to your GP is a good place to start too.