Recently, I made a big transition in my life. I entered my freshman year of high school this past fall, and as winter approaches, I’ve started to settle into a rhythm. But high school is challenging, especially for this generation. A disruption to your routine can be difficult – I’ve certainly found it to be! However, amidst the many changes the last months have brought about, I’ve come to depend on a few ever-present aspects of my life, one of which includes being on a sports team.
Being on a sports team has improved my mental health in many ways, one of them being the supportive relationships I’ve formed with my fellow teammates. I’ve discovered that many of my teammates have similar goals, like pushing ourselves to be the best we can be so that we achieve great things. We hold each other accountable, we encourage each other when it gets tough, and at the end of the day, we celebrate our wins. Spending time with people who have the same mindset as you can be eye-opening, and I’ve found that the friendships I’ve developed with my teammates exist outside of us playing sports.
Furthermore, the benefits of being on a sports team are supported by research. In the study “Does Sports Club Participation Contribute to Health-Related Quality of Life?”, researchers found that women who participated in team sports had a greater feeling of happiness and life satisfaction than those who did not participate in team sports, demonstrating the power and importance of sports participation beyond the playing field. Greater feelings of happiness help get rid of stress and promote well-being, which further exemplifies why it is so important to do activities with others.
Another great takeaway from being on a team are the skills that you gain that carry over into the real world. Teamwork is often found in the classroom, and being a successful team member is good for mental health. Collaboration is such an important aspect when working in groups. Better collaboration and teaming up with others helps make people feel like they are a part of something greater, which boosts their mood and confidence. Working with others reminds you that you are not alone in your pursuits which may make you feel more confident. From my personal experience, I’ve found that being a team player helps me have a more positive attitude in the classroom, while also giving me the confidence to be a more assertive leader and problem solver.
Beyond this, sports help the body internally produce chemicals that can improve mental health. When we work out, our brains produce feel-good chemicals that can boost your mood. This is especially important during the winter as many get overwhelmed during this season; working out is a good way to get rid of that.
There are so many benefits to playing a team sport, and even working out can have a positive effect on mental health. So the next time you are stressed or feeling anxious, try working out or grabbing some friends for a game of soccer. The benefits of teamwork and exercise will have lasting impacts well after the winning goal is scored.