Retired Athletes: The Lasting Effects Past the Sport

Sports are one of life’s most refreshing activities since they provide pleasure to our souls while also assisting in the filtering of our brains from all of life’s never-ending problems. As they face various hurdles on their path to sports success, athletes are able to live varied experiences and grow more acquainted with their own feelings and emotions. Competitiveness grows when athletes get more involved in their respective sports on their way to becoming professionals. However, the price of being a professional athlete can be prohibitive at times. This is due to the fact that professional athletes have distinct mindsets before and after events, and their performance might have an impact on their mental health.

With that being said, those athletes grow increasingly concentrated on their sports, losing sight of their own identities and becoming engrossed in their professional careers. They identify as professional athletes and, at times, forget who they were before they started their careers. As they near retirement, their identities are in jeopardy since sports have become such an important part of their lives, and without them, they feel alienated and their self-esteem plummets.

After retirement, professional athletes are more likely to experience mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and substance misuse. Retirement is tough for many people in society, according to Dr. Chris Wagstaff, Athletics and Exercise Psychologist at the University of Portsmouth. This is especially true in professional sports. There are very definite social and cultural expectations in such contexts. Athletes generally comply with and correlate success with these cultural standards in order to be successful. Those expectations aim to mold an athlete’s mentality and brain to feed on their athletic performance, distracting them from their personalities as more than just athletes.

Don’t get me wrong: athletics are unquestionably gratifying. Disconnecting from it, on the other hand, can be mentally taxing when it is the only source of nutrition for our minds. An avalanche of emotions seems to rush through our bodies when depression and anxiety enter our thoughts as a result of retirement.

The first few months after retirement is particularly difficult since you may become depressed and have difficulty getting out of bed. This is due to the fact that when you were training as an athlete, you had a goal of being in the best shape and you trained every day. After retiring, you may feel as if the world has come to a halt and life has lost its meaning.

As we move through different stages of life, this is to be expected, because life is never predictable, we must try our best to adapt. Remember those moments when you were out of breath and your body ached, when you miss long drives with your team and matches that you won after putting in so much work and pushing through. However, those memories will never be forgotten when you enter a new period of life and begin a new chapter. It’s heartbreaking how these moments are taken for granted when we later realize how important they were to us, yet moving on is the code of life.

Being a professional athlete is a fantastic accomplishment and a source of pride, but it does not define who we are as people, and life goes on after that. Feeling depressed or anxious is common and understandable, as is disconnecting from something that has become the center of our existence. It’s a form of change we should embrace, along with being mindful of our mental health and treating ourselves with kindness. We’re all ambitious and competitive in various ways, but that shouldn’t cloud our judgment. We should seek help when we need it and embrace the changes and new pathways that life throws in our way.

Being mentally stressed or anxious is not something to be ashamed of. This is the work of the cultures in which we live, and we must battle it and continue on with our lives. Understanding that it is never a simple process, to begin with. Assistance should be sought when necessary.

WE SAID THIS: It’s fine to be depressed after retiring, but moving on to the next chapter is essential!