Looking After Your Mental Health in Modern Day Football

Tips on keeping a healthy state of mind.

Football is everything we do – we play, we watch, we live and breathe football, and we communicate through football, especially here at RIASA. 

Mark, the RIASA Director, loves football and he is missing the game deeply. Matt, the Marketing Manager, is obsessed with football too; you will regularly see him play FIFA, check his Sky Sports App to digest the latest news and catch a glimpse of any game possible. 

It’s important to remember that the game we love is so powerful and this can have a knock on effect towards our mental state, this is more so for professional soccer players competing at the highest level. 

Hopefully, especially during these hard times, we’re all keeping active, relaxing and being positive. If you’re struggling to keep motivated, or feeling down, we have prepared some tips around looking after your mental health. 

These tips we have prepared might be helpful, even if you’re not a soccer player, or you don’t attend our UK based academic and soccer academy – we’re just spreading the love during these difficult times. 

1. Talk about your feelings

Share your feelings with trusted friends or family members.

Now you will probably laugh and think, that’s easy, however, talking about how you’re truly feeling at certains times can be hard. Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. And it works both ways. If you open up, it might encourage others to do the same.

We’re not necessarily talking about arranging a sit down session with the whole family but opening up to individuals you trust will help you reduce anxiety and you can work towards being more open about how you are actually feeling. 

In particular, sports athletes are put under immense pressure and because they are in the limelight, soccer players rarely share how they are feeling, thus affecting their mental health over long periods of time. 

Tackle the first hurdle by starting off small, go for a walk and talk out loud to yourself about how you’re feeling, sit down next to your dog and share your feelings, arrange a facetime with one of your fellow student athletes to discuss how you’re both coping and share your feelings. 

The most important thing here, which resonates well with sports individuals, is that talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s part of taking charge of your well being and doing what you can to stay healthy.

2. Stay Active

Keep moving to boost self confidence.

For most of our student athletes at our soccer academy, this isn’t a problem, as you are already driven and passionate about your physical state of mind and you’re ambitious to push yourself forwards physically. 

Let’s take this back to the scientific evidence, that Experts believe exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep and feel better.

Stick to the 30 minutes exercise, 5 times a week rule to keep on top of feeling good. Any additional exercise will help you feel better. Also this doesn’t mean you have to run two half marathons in 6 hours, there are many different ways of keeping active such as; Yoga, gardening, housework, lengthy walks and leisurely bike rides. 

Spotify has some great playlist and own generated content that can help you relax and stay focused. Check out the made for you section in your account for a burst of energy, or to tune into something more peaceful.

The best part of keeping active is that, this will boost your confidence, which in return will help you feel more alive. 


3. Eating well

A balanced diet is always best.

There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel, for example, caffeine and sugar can have an immediate effect on our bodies, something that our student athletes might know too well. For example some soccer players will have high sugar and high caffeine energy drinks at half time to give them a boosted state of mind, to help push them in the second half.

But food can also have a long-lasting effect on your mental health. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. It’s what your mum and dad, grandma and grandpa have always been telling you – diet balance is key!

A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.  A healthy balanced diet includes:

  • Lots of different types of fruit and vegetables
  • Wholegrain cereals or bread
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dairy products
  • Oily fish
  • Plenty of water.

Eat at least three meals each day and drink plenty of water. Try to limit how many high-caffeine or sugary drinks you have, and avoid too much alcohol.

If you want to be serious about nutrition, you can find great tips and meal plans online which can help soccer players understand the importance of a balanced diet. 

4. Accept who you are - you’re amazing

Always believe in yourself.

Some of us make people laugh, some are good at maths, others cook fantastic meals. Some of us share our lifestyle with the people who live close to us, others live very differently. Some of you are naturally talented at soccer, others have to work harder to achieve the same goals. 

We’re all different, and It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn. 

When moving over 5,000 miles to our fantastic soccer academy in Leeds for instance; by knowing yourself and being proud of who you are, this will help you adjust to a new life, make new friends and you should feel more confident with tackling new challenges.

Accept yourself, you truly are amazing.

5. Keep doing what you’re good at

Do what you enjoy for happiness and boosted confidence.

What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past?

Enjoying yourself helps beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it and achieving something boosts your self-esteem. Concentrating on a hobby like gardening, painting or challenging yourself with a crossword can help you forget your worries for a while and change your mood.

We know that you love playing soccer and you embrace the competition but during these hard times, it’s not the same. How about seeing how many ‘keepy uppies’ you can do continuously, or tag us on instagram with your best showboating tricks – the more flicks, the better!

So after reading this, we hope that you have a smile on your face and you’re ready to take on any challenge that comes your way, don’t forget that it’s little steps that amount to big changes, take your time and learn the process of self love.