As an athlete, your state of mind can have a huge impact on your sporting performance, but this aspect of your well-being is often not properly addressed. Here, we highlight some expert advice from the IOC Mental Health Working Group that can help you recognise and cope with any problems you may be facing.

  • The IOC and its international experts published a landmark paper in May 2019 addressing mental health problems in elite athletes.
  • The IOC Mental Health Working Group developed a list of recommended preventive tips for athletes’ mental health.
  • The following advice addresses a number of topics related to athletes’ mental health to help you on and off the field of play.

Think positively

Your mind is very powerful and sometimes it can help just to make yourself look calm and in control. The mind and body have repetitive patterns of thoughts, emotions, facial expressions, postures and movements that are associated with positive stress control and life balance.

Identify your stressors

Depressive symptoms are common at various times in the lives of elite athletes. These symptoms may follow difficult events like the loss of a significant relationship or person, competitive failure, serious injury or illness, family conflict, or even positive events like competitive success, national recognition, or participation in major events such as the Olympic Games. The most common symptoms are sadness, crying, irritability, sleep or appetite changes, pessimism, loss of pleasure, guilt, self-dislike, sense of failure, fatigue and/or thoughts of self-harm. These symptoms are universal and need a voice.  The simple act of telling someone close to you or meeting with a physician or other mental health provider can bring you relief and hope. You just need to take the first step.

Look after yourself

Looking after yourself is a key part of having good mental well-being. Part of being an elite athlete is to push the boundaries – and not just physically, but mentally. Over time, this can wear down your mental well-being. It’s important to know your limits and to build good self-care routines into your life, which includes getting enough sleep and having enjoyable downtime.

Prioritise your sleep and improve by up to 20%
If you could improve your sports performance by 20%, would you do it? Of course you would. And improving your sleep may be the way to do it. Research has shown that getting enough sleep is important for performing at your best, while a lack of sleep could also increase your risk of injury. That’s why sleep should be an important part of your training programme – just as good nutrition and hydration are. The mind and body need high quality, continuous sleep to reset and reboot their energy systems. Athletes typically need more than eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, enabling you to shift back and forth between light sleep, deep sleep and dream stages.

Be social at the right time

How much of your day do you spend on social media? Reading comments and posts about yourself can be very stressful, especially when you are under such immense pressure to perform well. With recent research suggesting that using social media before and during athletic competitions is actually associated with higher rates of performance anxiety, it may be best to steer clear of the online trolls altogether.

Play an active role in promoting safe sport

Safe sport is your right as an athlete, as outlined in the Athletes’ Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities. Many athletes don’t recognise that they could be suffering abuse from their coaches and other members of their entourage. For example, psychological abuse – defined as deliberate and repeated behaviour that causes mental harm to the athlete – might occur when a coach makes an athlete feel that they are worthless, inadequate, or only valued because of their athletic performance. Physical abuse – such as punching, beating, kicking and biting – and sexual abuse are also issues that some athletes can unfortunately face. If you have any concern about possible abuse, talk to your identified safeguarding officer or a trusted physician.

Conclusion: Be a role model

Mental health problems are not uncommon among athletes; in fact, one in three of us are likely to experience them to a varying degree at some time. If you have overcome your own mental health struggles, then acting as a role model could help prevent others from suffering similar issues. You can be a good role model by ‘normalising’ the mental health symptoms that occur, challenging negative stereotypes and/or language, and promoting respectful behaviour. These can all lead to mentally healthy sporting environments and prevent other athletes from struggling with negative experiences.


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Only in recent years has CBD made its way into mainstream vernacular and consequently, cannabidiol’s story has never fully been told on-screen. Buzzword status was reached in 2018—the same the year National CBD Day (August 8) was recognized by the registrar at National Day Calendar. The soon-to-be-streaming documentary, CBD Nation, is the first wide-release film dedicated to the cannabis plant compound’s deep roots.

Featuring leading experts in cannabis and medicine, including Raphael Mechoulam—the Israeli scientist who discovered THC, the endocannabinoid system and the therapeutic efficacy of CBD to treat medical conditions—the 83-minute film exposes 60 years of often ignored published reports and ongoing research.

The project turned its director, producer and editor David Jakubovic from a CBD cynic to a CBD champion. Creative director at Mad Machine Films, Jakubovic got his start at the age of 18, during mandatory military service in the Israeli Air Force, when he was assigned to make training films. Jakubovic’s recent credits include a World War II special for National Geographic and History Channel’s series Washington.


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It doesn’t get you high, but it’s causing quite a buzz among medical scientists and patients. The past year has seen a surge of interest in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabis compound with significant therapeutic properties.

Numerous commercial start-ups and internet retailers have jumped on the CBD bandwagon, touting CBD derived from hemp as the next big thing, a miracle oil that can shrink tumors, quell seizures, and ease chronic pain—without making people feel “stoned.”

But along with a growing awareness of cannabidiol as a potential health aid there has been a proliferation of misconceptions about CBD.


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Our bodies are really smart and can tell us a lot — as long as we listen to them. 

Should you stretch away the stiffness of the week’s workouts (spoiler: yes) or go for a light walk (yes, again) or should you sink into a hot bath and watch Netflix on your precariously balanced phone (for the third and final time, yes).

But why must you include rest in your routine? Why is it important to temper a kick-ass week of workouts with some deliberate recovery time?

For Barry’s Bootcamp legacy trainer Jemma McKenzie-Brown, rest days are just as important as killing your training sessions.

‘You have to let your body heal from the work you’ve been doing all week. Your muscles need a chance to desensitise and get used to the progression you’ve already made. If you push your brain too hard at work, you burnout. It’s the same with your body,’ says McKenzie-Brown, fresh from teaching her brilliantly brutal Friday morning class.


Read more: Women’sHealth


People are creatures of habit, and routines offer a way to promote health and wellness through structure and organization. Having a routine can greatly improve your health.

Many people who don’t have any type of routine suffer from:

  • Stress. No routine often means having the constant worry of “when will I get it all done.”
  • Poor sleep. Without a daily routine at work and/or home, you may find yourself playing catch-up with yesterday’s to-do list. If you’re always behind on what should have been done the day before, you’re likely also staying awake worrying about what didn’t.
  • Poor eating. Unhealthy diets (like eating lots of fast food) become the norm if there isn’t time scheduled for grocery shopping. Quick, unhealthy substitutes become the next best food option.
  • Poor physical condition. Working out usually requires some advance planning.
  • Ineffective use of time. Often, no routine means you simply run out of time, leaving things undone and not making the most of your time.


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The national governing body for triathlon will become the first organization of its type to sign a deal with a company that sells products containing cannabidiol.

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When you’re hurting, it’s natural to want to do something about the pain. So after an intense workout — the sort that leaves your body aching — many of us reach for an over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).

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Sports supplements marketed as endurance performance boosters often promise much, but frequently fail to deliver when placed under proper scientific scrutiny. That’s why supplements such as caffeine, creatine and carbohydrate are so notable in sports nutrition – they actually do what they say on the tin! However, the search for genuinely ergogenic sport supplements continues apace, and a recent study on an antioxidant-rich South American herb known as ‘yerba mate’ suggests a closer look is maybe worthwhile. Yerba mate – widely drunk as a tea across the continent – is very rich natural antioxidants such as polyphenols, and other compounds such as saponins and xanthenes. Moreover, a number of studies have shown that it can increase fat utilisation during exercise in untrained humans. However, its effects on well-trained endurance athletes during exercise are hitherto unknown, which is why Norwegian scientists decided to investigate.

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The physical well-being of athletes has been at the forefront of the conversation surrounding elite sports in recent years. In 2015, for example, the NBA joined an initiative to help improve athletes’ health.

The association has likely devised several solutions by now. But here’s one thing officials probably overlooked:


And, no, we’re not joking. As it turns out, consuming CBD daily might have several positive effects on athletes’ overall health. From strengthening athletes’ immune systems to relieving pain, CBD could do it all.

So what are some exact reasons athletes should be using CBD daily? Here are just four of the myriad benefits of doing so.