If you feel stressed you might feel more irritable or aggressive. Your sense of humour deserts you and you can find it hard to communicate. Stress can prevent you making decisions — especially under pressure. It can stop you concentrating, sleeping or relaxing. Untreated stress can lead to anxiety and depression.

“I got more and more anxious to the point that I started being physically sick before training matches or I’d get really drunk after games. Sometimes I just went home to be on my own, didn’t want to talk to anyone. The other lads started commenting on my behaviour but I didn’t know what to say to them. At first, the only time I felt OK was when I was playing. But gradually even that didn’t make the nervous feelings go away. The crunch came when I lost my temper during a game and I was sent off. I knew it was out of order but I just lost it — and the whole team paid for my loss of control.”

“I knew then I needed help to get a grip. I contacted the GPA helpline. The counsellor told me I was over anxious and suggested I could get some therapy which has a good track record in treating anxiety. I’ve had a few sessions now and it’s really helped me cope with the anxious feelings I get. I feel I can see things clearer now. I am definitely less anxious now that I have talked things through with someone else. One of the things that I was most anxious about was how my team-mates would react — I thought they might think I’d gone crazy. I told some of the lads and they understood — they know what it’s like more than anyone else.”

— Fictional Example

Some Facts About Stress: 

  • Some stress is good for you. Stress produces the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism that helps you to run and perform
  • Long periods of living under stress can lead to anxiety and depression as well as physical conditions such as heart disease and headaches
  • Work-related stress, depression and anxiety are the most common cause of days off work
  • Stress can lead to more serious problems such as depression and panic attacks, and
  • Stress, anxiety and depression often go together 

The Physical Effects of Stress 

A stressed person might feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Breathless
  • Sick or dizzy
  • Headaches
  • Constant tiredness
  • Chest pains
  • Sleeping problems
  • Tendency to sweat
  • Nervous twitches
  • Cramps or muscle spasms
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Pins and needles
  • Lack of appetite, and
  • High blood pressure

What You Can Do To Help Yourself: 

  • Make the connection. If you’re not feeling good, maybe you are under too much pressure?
  • Take a regular break. Give yourself a brief break whenever you feel things are getting on top of you
  • Learn to relax. Follow a simple routine to relax your muscles and slow your breathing
  • Get better organised. Make a list of jobs, tackle one task at a time, alternate dull tasks with interesting ones
  • Sort out your worries. Divide them into those that you can do something about (either now or soon) and those that you can’t. There’s no point in worrying about things that you can’t change
  • Change what you can. Look at the problems that can be resolved, and get whatever help is necessary to sort them out. Learn to say ‘no’
  • Improve your lifestyle. Find time to eat properly, reduce alcohol intake, get plenty of exercise and enough sleep
  • Confide in someone. Don’t keep emotions bottled up, and
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your life

Talk to the GPA about our Personal Development Coaching Programme which can help you organise and prioritise your life on and off the field.

“Life should be great. I’ve made the county panel, I’m a single man and a student I have been enjoying playing on various teams but I feel like there’s huge pressure on me to do well with all the teams I play with. I feel like I’ve no release. All my mates in college are going out, but when I go out with them, I’m the sober one and just get fed up. I have to deal with people banging on about the team’s performance or my last game. I’ve got financial pressures now too — student and car loans and rent to pay. I get calls from my family at home asking me what’s going on. I’m playing for the college and club teams as well as county team, but I still don’t feel fully fit, something is just not right. Finally, I decide to do something about it. A little while ago I was at the top of my game now I feel like I’m at rock bottom. I’m 21 now and I feel it’s all over.” 

“I decide to talk to the GPA and they put me in touch with a personal development coach. Talking to him seems to be relieving the pressure a bit, I feel better. I see that I need to prioritise and face things as they happen and the coach has given me techniques to do that. If I’m going to be a great player I have to look after my mental and my physical self. I can see that I need extra support at stressful times and will keep talking to the coach when I need it.”

— Fictional Example