How Do Positive Affirmations Promote Athlete Mental Health?
Over the course of the last few years, what do some of the biggest news stories in sports have in common? It’s clearly the impact of anxiety and the mental strain athletes face - even at the highest levels. We saw this play out with several high profile athletes, whether it be Simone Biles dropping out at the Olympics, Naomi Osaka prematurely exiting the French Open, or Ben Simmons missing the entire NBA season. These are a few examples of athletes who’ve missed competition because of mental health, but these struggles aren’t just isolated to professionals.
In fact, the NCAA Sport Science Institute found that "Student-athletes report mental health and wellness as their #1 challenge." And with the pandemic, the number of student-athletes experiencing mental health concerns are 1.5 to 2x higher than have been historically reported in pre-pandemic studies. Needless to say, coaches and athletes need to be proactive in how they approach not only their performance on the field, but also their mental wellness.
While there are various methods for managing mental health and wellness, let’s take a look at how positive affirmations can combat this widespread challenge. But first, what is a positive affirmation? Simply put, they’re straightforward statements, such as “My possibilities are endless” or “I let go easily.” Research shows that there are many benefits associated with using affirmations, including: boosting confidence and self-esteem, controlling negative feelings, reducing stress, improving overall well-being, promoting openness to new behaviors, increasing productivity, providing motivation, overcoming challenges, and changing unwanted habits. Like many coaches, the problem is knowing where to even begin. With that in mind, and in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re going to provide an activity for coaches to implement with their teams.
Positive Affirmation Team Activity
For this activity, you will be referencing the Athlete Affirmation Worksheet (1-page printout). Your team will learn a 4-part formula for writing effective affirmations and once they’ve written down their answers, they will also be asked to share them. Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Provide the Athlete Affirmation Worksheet (1-page printout) to the entire team and allow 15-minutes for them to complete in groups of 2 or individually.
Step 2: Have each team member share their list of affirmations and explain why they chose them.
Step 3: Request that each athlete commits to following through by signing their signature at the bottom of the worksheet. Ideally, this worksheet should be placed in their locker or transcribed to a smartphone, so they may read and repeat them daily.
Pro Tip: In order to be effective, affirmations must be used daily and just like any other skill, consistent practice is key. Generally, it takes 1 to 3 months for the impact of affirmations to be first seen and about 6 months for impact permanence. By committing to this practice, your athletes will increase confidence, lower stress levels, and improve their motivation.
"The Restoic app is a valuable addition to any team's preparation, especially when considering the challenges and daily stressors of performing at a high level in sports and in the classroom. Achieving elite performance is the balance of physical and mental health in one's sport. Having Restoic as a resource will promote the importance of mental wellness and will provide athletes with the tools to perform at their best." - Coralie Simmons, NCAA Champion, 2-time NCAA Player of the Year, Olympic Silver Medalist
Interested in learning more about how to support your team’s mental health and drive performance on the field? Restoic offers a holistic approach to performance and mental wellness through its app-based solution. Proven and trusted by teams at all levels, Restoic’s tech-enabled platform offers a cost effective solution that will transform any mobile device into a dynamic competitive advantage. Learn more by visiting www.restoic.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.