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5 Ways NBA Athletes Transform Struggles into Strengths

“Same struggles, the same sufferings, the same day-to-day anxieties and insecurities that that the rest of the world is going through” (Aaron Gordon).

Aaron Gordon of the Nuggets and other athletes share how this was the most challenging NBA season they have ever dealt with; enduring the COVID-19 pandemic, several protests, and a compressed, isolation-inducing schedule that kept them separated from their loved ones. These traumas have been layered on top of feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and depression of losing their identity, fans, and sense of purpose. The normal pressures that athletes have to contend with have been increasing in proportions as they are expected to train and perform at their highest level. Despite efforts such as Cleveland Cavalier Kevin Love’s commitment to bringing mental health awareness to players since pre-pandemic, mental health symptoms of anxiety and depression have increased up from 11% of adults to over 30% today.

Allen Crabbe of the Minnesota Timberwolves shared with Ektha Aggarwal, a conscious psychotherapist supporting NBA players in transforming their mindset, that many people ask him “How can somebody who makes millions of dollars and is financially stable going through depression or experiencing unhealthy mental thoughts?” Athletes have talents and special gifts that may cause the community to value them as more than human, however, they are struggling. Athletes are also humans with mental health challenges. Mental wellbeing hacks and therapy not only provide athletes a platform to release stressors that come with being a professional player, but also learn effective ways to rewire negative thoughts into positive outlooks.

Your mental wellbeing is a core element of your performance on the basketball courts and in your daily life. It can cost you and your team a chance to achieve personal and professional victory. The steps to success begin ongoing awareness of your feelings and emotions, day in and day out. Ben Simmons of Philadelphia 76ers, who felt he didn’t do enough for his teammates, shared:

"The first thing I'm going to do is clear my mind and get my mental [health] right. You got to be mentally tough."

Here’s 5 ways you can develop mental toughness by transforming your struggles into strengths: