Freelance writer, Annie Button has written about how sociable sports boost your mental health.

Sport is one of the best ways to help improve your mental health thanks to its stress-busting qualities and calming influence. Studies have found that 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day can make people feel calmer which continues several hours after.

Naturally, doing sport is good for your physical health and there are plenty of mental health benefits. But, you don’t have to go it alone. Let’s look at how engaging in sociable sports boosts your mental health.

What are sociable sports?

You might be wondering what we mean by sociable sports. There are two ways of looking at it; sports that are done in teams and those that promote sociable behaviour.

Examples of team sports include football, netball, rugby, etc. These sports typically have clubs you can join and involve competing against other teams. Sports with a sociable element include golf, tennis, skiing, hiking and martial arts. These are sports that you can largely do by yourself but that can also be done in groups or through society events.

What is important is to find a sport that you enjoy as it’s natural for your interest to drop if it’s not something you love doing. That said, don’t be afraid to try new things. You could find a sport or activity you fall in love with later in life because you never had the opportunity to play it before.

Regular contact with others

The effects of the pandemic are still being felt and while we are now weary of it, there are still so many things to worry and fret about as far as public health is concerned. Research by the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey discovered that feelings of loneliness in Great Britain increased from 5.0% to 7.2% of the adult population.

Feelings of isolation have grown for many throughout the pandemic but that’s where sociable sports come in. They give you a reason to leave the house and also the opportunity to interact with real-life humans rather than a video call screen.

“The emotional support provided by social connections helps to reduce the damaging effects of stress and can foster “a sense of meaning and purpose in life”, Researchers at the University of Texas discovered.

The more interaction you have with others, the better your communication skills can become. Think of talking with others a little like practising any skill; the more you practise the better you become. Not only will your verbal communication skills get better but your ability to read body language will improve too.

In sport, there isn’t always time to say everything you mean, but your body language can convey how you feel. For instance, you might notice after losing that one of your teammates appears particularly sad but they aren’t saying as much. Equally, you can learn to read when someone is happy with the way they act following a satisfying victory or point scored.

Partaking in regular team or social sports also helps to create a routine in your day. They give you something to look forward to and to plan your time around.

Time To Talk

One of the great things about a sports club is its power to bring people together. They give participants the chance to make friends and find the time to talk about their lives with one another.

With our belief that talking helps, we are encouraging everyone to start a conversation about mental health. Time To Talk Day is a day for friends, families, communities and workplaces to come together to talk, listen and change lives.

Sports clubs have the power to make some noise about Time To Talk Day and spread the message that talking and listening about mental health can change lives. There is a huge social aspect to sport and we encourage sports fans from all walks of life to get together, play sport and talk.

Meeting and making friends

Making friends isn’t always such an easy thing to do as an adult or younger person. In fact, sometimes keeping in touch with the friends you already do have can be hard with everyone leading such busy lives.

A YouGov friendship study discovered that 51% of Britons find it difficult to make new friends. The study also found that only 26% of introverts find it fairly or very easy to make friends.

If you think about school as a place to meet people, there are a lot of different personalities all buzzing around you. When you reach adulthood you are typically in contact with much fewer people, with work being the main place to meet new friends. So how do you put yourself out there?

One of sport’s greatest qualities is its ability to bring people together. Whether that’s through their shared love of sweating in the gym, hiking in the fresh air or shouting for their favourite team from the stands; sport unites.

Golf or tennis socials are a great way to enjoy a sport but also get to know someone else. Putting yourself in an environment with like-minded people helps to build connections in your life. Having friends in your life helps prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness while offering you vital companionship.

Being able to make friends in new situations is a great life skill for when you move jobs, towns or even countries. Having someone to confide in can help you cope with traumatic events, improve your self-worth, boost happiness and increase your sense of belonging.

Coping with failure or losing

Let’s face it; losing isn’t a nice feeling no matter which situation you find yourself in. Fear of failure can even lead to us avoiding taking risks in case the worst happens. However, engaging in sport helps teach up how to lose and accept that making mistakes is just a part of life. It’s how we respond to those setbacks that really matter.

In team sports, there is no one reason why you lose, or win, as your teammates have to shoulder their part of the responsibility. “You win as a team and you lose as a team” is a pretty common saying in sport but it rings true.

Coming together and overcoming your difficulties as a team helps with team building. Sure, you have to accept failure at times but the rewarding part is learning to overcome and adapt.

This helps to make you more resilient to setbacks and better equipped to deal with them if they should arise. Knowing that messing up isn’t the end of the world, and that you still have the support of your teammates, is a great boost of confidence and camaraderie.

Accountability maintains exercise

Whether you are meeting a friend in the gym or joining a running club at 6 a.m., your first choice is mostly going to be to avoid exercise. With your bed becoming more comfortable than ever when you are faced with the prospect of exercising, having someone counting on you can change your attitude.

Motivation is a key part of making exercise stick, and lots of people quit doing activities like the gym when they go on their own. Social sports give you a sense of accountability and a feeling that you could be letting someone down if you don’t turn up. 

That added responsibility keeps people coming back for more exercise, which is important for boosting our mood and self-esteem.

 

Sociable sports benefit our mental health in a variety of ways, encouraging us to talk more and be more active. From joining a club or signing up to a new gym session, team, club and competitive sports are ideal for getting out, interacting with people while also getting a healthy dose of exercise.

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