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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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Separating the athletics from the athlete and finding happiness outside your sport

Separating the athletics from the athlete and finding happiness outside your sport

At UNC Asheville, mental health is an extremely important and constantly spoken about topic. 

“UNC Asheville’s Health and Counseling Center provides services that are designed to promote and maintain the health of all students,” according to the Heath and Counseling Center. 

There is this stigma going around on social media about why men need to act a certain way in difficult situations and not show any other expression besides strength, dominance, and nonchalant behavior. Giving men a safe space to say what they really feel shouldn’t be shut down or overlooked, especially if an athlete is expressing their feelings of distress .

 UNC Asheville’s men’s Basketball team have been through a long season thus far winning 15 games and more to come. With them being 2nd in the Big South, winning is crucial in order to maintain that spot, But with winning being such a priority, remembering to focus on taking care of yourself can be forgotten and with 9 games left, the constant idea of performing with no hiccups can be stressful. 

 Sophomore Davion Cunningham (DC) looks at pressure in a positive light.

“The pressure of winning has not affected us a ton, we try not to put the pressure of winning on us because sometimes it’s not always in our control, we just try to get 1% better today then we were yesterday and 1% better tomorrow than we were today,” Cunningham said. 

 For some individuals winning is the only option in order to suffice for their own expectations for themselves and for many competitive athletes this stems from their home atmosphere. Putting your best foot forward is the lessons taught at a young age and evolves athletes into their best competitive selves to do well. Even in situations when they aren’t performing to their full potential there’s still a fire light under them that won’t let them give up.  

“Just trying to win by any means was kinda how I was raised. To be honest I’ve still been learning and trying to figure out new ways to protect my peace and not put extreme pressure on myself but that’s really hard when I don’t perform to the best of my ability,” Cunningham said. 

 Finding solutions that work for you is a great start to balancing your negative emotions. Seeking what will keep you calm in the moment and putting your mind in a positive perspective when you aren’t satisfied with your performance will chemically release a “feel good” feeling throughout your body. 

“When positive thoughts are generated cortisol decreases and the brain produces serotonin, creating a feeling of well-being. When serotonin levels are normal, one feels happy, calmer, less anxious, more focused and more emotionally stable,” according to Meteor Education. 

Something that allows Cunningham to take a break from school and basketball is hangout with friends, playing on the game and even bowling, although this gives him a feeling of relaxation he still has to get real relaxation and rest. 

“One of my unhealthy habits that I’m changing is not getting the proper rest. I find myself staying up late through the night just because of the busy days”. Proper rest is another factor that benefits your mental and physical health. More rest equals clearer thoughts, better mood and allowing your body to rest helps avoid injuries as well,” Cunningham said.

Knowing what little improvements you can make to your daily routine is all about self awareness and consistency. With continuous improvements taking care for yourself wont be a second thought. 

“I’ve been taking care of my mental by constantly talking to God and keeping that relationship  and spending family time when I can. I like to go home on the weekends and spend my Sundays at  church and then my grandma’s cooking after,” Cunningham said.  

Cunningham seems to have a pretty good understanding about what he should do to keep himself happy aside from playing basketball. If you are struggling with mental health issues whether you play a sport or just a student, self evaluating and recognizing what gives you that “feel good” feeling is a good place to start,  reach out to the health and counseling department at UNCA. 

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