After an unprecedented year, the Olympics are back and ready to take on Tokyo. But, how are the athletes dealing with the stress of becoming an Olympian? 

We watch them on TV, we dream to compete like them, and we even define some of these athletes as our “idols,” but little do we know there is more behind being an olympian than what we see on the big screen. 

As the Olympic Trials come to an end, we continue to hear about the stress behind becoming an olympian. Many have worked their whole life to get to a single moment that could determine the making of their dream. Some even say that you have to be “perfect” the day of your competition, race, meet, etc. With all of this pressure to reach a higher goal, how do these future Olympians work under pressure? 

According to Psychology Today, many athletes cope with stress in similar manners. Emotion-focused coping, problem-focused coping and avoidance coping are three of the ways that athletes try to stay in control of their feelings when competing:

1. Emotion-Focused Coping: using techniques to regulate the “fight or flight” response that athletes may feel when under pressure.

2. Problem-Focused Coping: finding ways to solve the issue that is stressing the athlete out.

3. Avoidance Coping: psychologically and physically blocking out the stress that is bothering the athlete while competing. 

Although these techniques are helpful, there isn’t always a resolution to the stress that Olympic athletes/future olympic athletes endure. Sometimes, it takes a bit of self-care to take away some of the stress they encounter. 

“I do regular athletic massages and ice massages,” says Olympian gymnast Simone Biles in a Health interview. “I also use compression boots and take Epsom-salt baths, and I see my athletic doctor every Friday for check-in.” She also talks about how she prioritizes time to see a psychiatrist at least once every two weeks so that she can feel less anxious when working towards competitions. 

When it comes to easing stress during a meet, competition, race, etc. other athletes have found that meditation and breathing techniques are the best ways to cope with stress.“For me, deep and slow inhales and exhales are what I recommend to help focus and center yourself,” said Rugby olympian Carlin Isles in an interview with AskMen. “Then just tell yourself to have fun and that you have nothing to lose!

There is no perfect way to deal with burnout or stress when it comes to our careers. Even the individuals that we consider to be our “idols” get stressed over their job. Nonetheless, self-care and coping techniques are two small factors that play into the big successes of these athletes. So, the next time you watch the Olympics, remember that you may have more in common with these athletes than you realize.

Hannah Walker

Hannah Walker is a health reporter at The Pavlovic Today.