Athletes often feel a strong connection with their body. The mind-body connection can be extremely powerful as it relates to optimizing performance.
However, by constantly existing in a state of high expectations, your emotional well-being could become compromised. When you feel as if you must perform physically and mentally at your best - in both training and in life (work, family, friends), this may exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression. Mental health illnesses include biological, psychological and environmental factors. Depression can drain your energy, optimism, and motivation. Depression isn't something you can simply "snap out" of and you can't just "look on the bright side." Depression clouds judgment and distorts realistic thinking. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of depression and anxiety.
Mental illnesses often come with the stigmatized belief that those who struggle with depression or anxiety are weak and fragile. This conflicts with the idea that athletes are strong, resilient and healthy. Athletes may feel shame and embarrassment for having to struggle with mental health issues but because this illness affects how you feel, think and behave, leading to a variety of emotional and physical problems, it's important to seek help. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not a weakness. There are many mental health services available for mental, emotional and social concerns. With appropriate care, you can go on to live a meaningful and rewarding life. Carrying for your mental health is just as important as taking good care of yourself physically.
In today's visual and connected world, you may hold yourself to high expectations and standards. Too much time spent scrolling through social media can be destructive to your mental health. It's very difficult to avoid making comparisons of others perceived success, physical appearances, happiness, finances, relationships/friendships and career achievements. Social media can be healthy if you are taking advantage of ways that you can positively connect with family and "real" friends, but many times, social media is destructive to mental health.
Treat yourself with kindness and respect. Don't be too critical of yourself. Surround yourself with good people who make you feel good about yourself. Never stop giving to yourself. Identify the triggers that make you feel anxious or depressed. Make time for you. Don't be overambitious with your goals and avoid putting too much on your daily plate. Don't over-schedule yourself and be willing to say no. Let the little things go. Learn safe and healthy ways to deal with stress, anxiety and depression to help quiet your mind.
For more information on this topic, here's a recent article with several pro athletes who have suffered from depression.