When you’re coaching athletes of any stripe, there are many challenges. Confidence issues, body issues, discipline, time management, and even a few personal questions can all come up. One of the things that nobody warns you or tells you how to deal with is athlete depression.
Yes, athletes of any age – even kids – can become depressed. All it takes are a combination of the right factors.
Over the years, I’ve had to teach myself how to deal with depression in the teams I coach. It isn’t easy to spot and even harder to work through, but I’ve learned a thing or two about what works.
In some cases, laughter and talking are good. Laughter helps cut down the symptoms and improve the mood. Encouraging people to spend time with friends and family can help, as long as those are not the causes of the depression in the first place.
Communication is also important. The depressed need someone to talk to, a support system that won’t toss them aside when their mood drops like a lead balloon.
Exercise also helps.
To quote a movie, exercise releases endorphins into the body. Endorphins make you happy. Therefore, people who exercise regularly are more satisfied, or at least less likely to feel depressed. It helps that making people focus on physical performance keeps their mind busy.
Sleep also works wonders. Sometimes, the brain just does not function right if you’re not getting enough sleep. I’ve found that sleeping it off works for a lot of emotional troubles, or at least make them feel like less of an issue long enough for you to work on a permanent fix.
In some people, talking about the future specifically is a good move. Sometimes, thinking about where they might be can help them overcome where they are now. It doesn’t have to be a big plan, though. Just little steps to keep them moving forward helps.
Finally, eat regularly. Food is important, especially the occasional comfort food.