6 BIG CHALLENGES EVERY FIGHTER FACES TODAY AND HOW TO TACKLE THEM
Have you ever felt the pressure to win a fight? Do you stress about it over and over again because you don’t want to disappoint your family and friends?
You are not alone!
There are many challenging dynamics that fighters face in today’s fast-paced, high-stakes, outcome-based, social media world. Fighters are increasingly feeling the pressure to succeed, while their “love of the game” is being reduced by the expectations of others. I know it because that’s how I always felt. The worst for me was not the losing but disappointing my mom, and that look on her face that made me feel worthless.
Not many are aware of the mental health challenges that fighters face. It is very important for everyone, especially fighters, to be aware of the challenges, for awareness is the first step. Let’s go through some of them.
Generally speaking, people want to do everything right at all times; at least that’s how most of us were taught. However, it is not realistic to be perfect and can result in problems, such as:
● Overtraining, which can lead to injuries.
● Inability to put training success into a competition because of too-high expectations,
which leads to decreased performance.
● Feeling worthless and like a failure, if any mistakes are made, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
Fear to fail
Generally, there are high expectations put on fighters’ performances. Fighters do not want to disappoint the “others,” or they often have the feeling of not “good enough.” The others, in this case, could be parents, coaches, teammates, fans, media, and even the general population as the competitions are on display for everyone to see.
Recovering from a fight takes time, regardless if it’s a win or lose. It is also very daunting as fighters rely on their physical abilities to perform in a fight. It is exhausting to wonder and wait to “be back to normal.” In addition to that, fighters might face PTSD from injuries. Let’s be real, even though they love the sport and are passionate about it, it still hurts. Period.
It is crucial to have a healthy and balanced lifestyle for everyone, fighters included. They absolutely must manage their sleep, nutrition, and social environment. It is very important to be active and balance social connections and commitments. The sad reality is that a lot of times, athletes do not take good care of themselves.
Managing the change of environment
To be a successful fighter, one must cope with changes in lifestyle, location, environment, and social surroundings. For example, the preparation process might be long and take place in a different place. Competitions are also abroad, which means traveling. Some might like to travel, but not everyone is comfortable with long hours, sleeping in a different place, and being surrounded by new people. Some just get homesick.
Fear of Success
This might sound like a cliché, but it’s a real issue. Some athletes fear the responsibilities and commitments that come with being successful. A fighter may not want to be in the spotlight or have the responsibility of being a role model, or may not want the commitment of additional training or expenses that go with success.
How to deal with those challenges
● Seek help from a professional. Many sports organizations and institutions offer counseling services.
● Do not use alcohol or drugs to cope with your issues. It will only make things worse.
● Surround yourself with positive and fun people.
● Be mindful of the present moment. Focusing on the past can lead to depression, and stressing
about the future can lead to anxiety. Be grateful for the here and now.
● Engage your creative side. Basically, choose whatever works for you. It could be a positive podcast, writing, art, meditating, breathing, yoga, music, and any other relaxation techniques.
● Get outside and relax with an activity that is different from your sport.
● Make sure to get a good night’s sleep and go to bed at the same time every day to develop a healthy routine. Lack of sleep causes many physical and mental issues.
● Eat a balanced diet, and make sure you get enough nutrients.
● Engage in an activity that makes you laugh because it’s true what they say Laughter is the best medicine.
● Volunteer and help others.
● Realize that you can only control your thoughts, actions, and efforts.
At the end of the day, there are many challenges that fighters encounter in today’s society. Not only there is social pressure from family, friends, or fans, but there is also the pressure that the fighters put on themselves. All of it can be overwhelming and too much to deal with. The most important step is to be aware of the challenge. It is necessary to recognize your triggers. What causes your stress or anxiety? If you know what triggers your negative feelings, you can begin to develop skills to eliminate, replace, or minimize them.