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Stress and Coping Strategies

Working in a high-pressure environment, whether it is on the pitch or in a boardroom meeting, causes stress that can be both difficult to cope with and cause you to lose focus when you most need it. In order to combat this, it is important to develop coping strategies, which will relieve you of some of this stress, as well as allowing you to remain on task and effective.

Stress in sports

The pressures of a career in sports are immense. From the pressures of the sport itself to the difficulties of coping with the fame and expectations that come with it, sports stars have a lot on their plate. In their workplaces, they are constantly expected to be on top of their game and maximising performance; even the kindest coach puts an immense amount of pressure on their team due to the nature of the job. This is also aided by the increase in commerciality and money in sports; people want results from their sportspeople. Since most sportspeople know there will come a time when they are no longer at the top of their game, they also have to deal with the pressure of their careers ending.

When badly managed, the effects of this kind of stress are damaging and can cripple a sportsperson, as well as those they work with. Teams can be torn apart by stress and the competitive nature, rather than focusing on a common goal. Athletes who do not cope well with stress will suffer from sleep deprivation, poor performance, aggressive behaviour as well as engaging in risky behaviour such as drug taking and drinking. Long-term stress is incredibly damaging to health and can cause mental illness problems (such as panic attacks) as well as heart attacks and even suicide. It is common that athletes suffering from extreme stress will not seek help as it could be viewed as a weakness on their part, but it is crucial they do otherwise it will simply eat away at them and damage their performances.

Stress in business

Similarly to sport, the pressures of trying to keep up in the highly competitive sports world can cause huge amounts of stress. Working a 9 to 5 job whilst trying to maintain some sort of personal life is a difficult task, especially if you have ambitions of moving up in the business world. However, like sports, when channelled in the right direction, stress can help you to work at a faster, more effective pace.

Poorly managed stress in business will cause sleep deprivation, weight gain and can actually have damaging effects on your memory, which you obviously need to be able to stay on task in your job. After many nights with a lack of sleep, you will feel both tired and more stressed, and this will have a negative effect on those who work around you as well as yourself. It is impossible to make smart, rational and collaborative decisions when you are feeling under such an immense amount of pressure; it will have negative effects on all aspects of your life.

How to deal with stress

It is normal and useful to have some stresses and anxieties in your life. Although you may not enjoy it, by taking the stress you feel and turning it into something productive you will help keep yourself afloat. Here are the top __ tips for alleviating or channelling stress in either a sport or business environment.

Concentrate on one task at a time

Lots of the time when we experience stress, it is because of a build up of many different worries all culminating in extreme anxiety. This is of absolutely no use to anyone as it just means that we are unable to concentrate on anything, let alone the important things. Prioritize what you need to work on, do so, and make sure to reward yourself when things are going well.

Make sure to have some downtime

This one may seem counter-productive but is actually crucial. Even as a professional sportsperson, downtime is essential to make sure that you stay mentally healthy and invigorated for the next task. Make sure to set yourself specific times where you need to stop whatever you are working on, be it training on the pitch or replying to work emails, and do something for yourself.

Be Kind

As a leader, this one is crucial; as you will transfer the stresses you have onto your employees, which will lead to lower productivity from all. Whatever you emit in your work environment will be returned to you, so it is always a good idea to try and remain positive. Also remember to seek help and guidance from a friend or colleague if you feel like you are struggling.


The vicious circle of stress means that it can cause you to lose sleep, and this lack of sleep will cause you more stress. This one ties in with number 2; you need to have some downtime to focus on other things (books, television etc.) that will help you to relax and sleep.


Laughing is a proven method to alleviating stress. It helps to relax you as well as giving your brain the chance to learn new things. Talk to a funny friend or watch a funny video; whatever it is, make sure you do not stay sombre the whole time or your productivity and drive will suffer.

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