Sports are still going on despite the pandemic, and no-contact sports are going strong — especially equestrian sports. But, just like with any other sport, it can be stressful. From choosing what horse you want to use, to even getting ready for your next show, learning to cope with sports stress is essential. Luckily, BetterHelp has offered some tips to help with sports-related stress, and what you can do to fully combat this whenever it sets in.
Take a Moment to Breathe
If you’re running from work to school to lessons, taking care of your horses, and making sure that they’re happy and healthy, it can be overwhelming. But that, combined as well with life stress can seem even more overwhelming than usual.
With any sport, there is a fair share of stressors. Learning to understand when you’re stressed, and from there taking a moment to breathe, to slow down for just a moment, is essential. Focusing on something other than the barn for a minute is good. Taking a second to practice meditative breathing also is a great way to stay grounded when life is tough — or even taking a pause between memorizing and walking your course at a show. Remember, life is stressful, but there is always time to breathe.
Photo by Tim Goedhart/Unsplash/CC.
Take a Break
This is a beneficial practice if you’re getting stressed. For example, if you’re constantly missing your distance to a jump in a lesson (or even a ground pole!), chances are your mind is distracted by something…or perhaps you’re even over-focusing. If it is frustrating you (and your horse), sometimes taking a break is important to recover and try again, or end on a good note with something positive and save things for another day.
Just like with breathing, you can use that moment to reground yourself and reorganize. From there, you can take the next steps to improve and rebuild confidence.
Try Different Activities than Sports
Sports burnout is very common, and unfortunately, many athletes suffer from this. Sports burnout is when you get sick of playing sports or engaging in that activity, to the point where you’re not performing well. Chances are, if you’re not happy, your horse likely isn’t, either.
Thankfully, you can engage in different kinds of activities other than mere sports. Reading a book, taking a walk, or even spending time away from the barn (even for an extra day or two, rather than a longer period of time) are just a few ways to re-energize.
Photo by Sydney Rae/Unsplash/CC.
Realize that (Quality) Practice Makes Perfect
If you’re getting stressed about riding, understand that (quality) practice makes perfect. A shorter school that leaves you and your horse feeling positive, and that you learned something is much more productive than drilling the same leg yield for 90 minutes on end.
Don’t be afraid to reward your horse, of course, when he’s done things correctly or makes a good try!
With quality practice, you’ll feel more confident in both you and your horse’s capabilities when the stakes are high and the rails can’t fall.
Understand Not Everything will Go Smoothly
This is especially true in the COVID world. With people sometimes getting sick suddenly, cancellations and changes may happen. If you struggle with change, this can be a stressful situation. If you feel like you’re stressed because of changes, BetterHelp can assist you with that. Talking to someone about changes will help arm you so that you can face them head-on when you finally must deal with them.
Part of the variety of life is understanding it’s hard for things to be perfect, but luckily, you can do the best you can to arm yourself so you’re ready for those imperfections as best as you can.
Therapy is a great option if you’re really having a rough go. With the way this year is going, things are, for lack of a better word, unpredictable. If you’re not the type who handles change and extra stress very well, therapy is a great thing to start engaging in. It can be especially helpful if you feel like life is just an ongoing series of stress, and also if you feel like there is no end in sight for the stress.
One of the best therapy sites for the job is BetterHelp, and you can learn a bit more about why that is here. If you are stressed, seeing a therapist can be a great thing. Stress can affect you, the people around you, and your equine partners. It is a part of life, and it can be hard as an athlete — but there are many ways to cope.
BetterHelp is the largest online counseling platform worldwide. Its mission is to change the way people get help with facing life’s challenges by providing convenient, discreet and affordable access to a licensed therapist. BetterHelp makes professional counseling available anytime, anywhere, through a computer, tablet or smartphone. To learn more, click here.