Stress and anxiety are prevalent in every human beings daily life. Since terms like stress and anxiety can be used varied on the metrics they are given. The definition of stress we are going to use is noted by Miguel Humara to be “a state that results form the demands that are placed on the individual which require that person to engage in some coping behavior.” Also by Humara, anxiety is defined “as results when the individual doubts his or her ability to cope with the situation that causes him or her stress.” Stress and anxiety stems from uncertainties, deadlines, emotions of frustration, and much more. Having these feelings of anxiousness and having the weight of the world on your shoulders typically result in negative outcomes. These negative outcomes hinder the ability we as humans have to finish our daily tasks with efficiency or even finish these tasks at all.
In order to grasp the damage that stress and anxiety can cause, we must first assess where stress and anxiety comes from. Hans Selye, the father of stress research, proposed that stress was present in any situation that an individual was exposed to a demand. A proposal like this, leaves us with an interesting thought. Everything causes stress. Worry will bring upon stress, a change in scenery will bring upon stress, the thought of a change in scenery will bring upon stress. The tension that we feel during events of pressure brings on stress as we know it.
With this notion, we have to delve a little deeper into types of stress. If any situation where an individual is exposed to a demand results in stress, that means positive association as well as negative association both result in stress although there is a massive negative connotation around the word stress. The most common type of stress that every individual encounters is known as acute stress. Acute stress, according to VerywellMind.com, is a short-term reaction after an event occurs that may be considered overwhelming. If this acute stress does not leave and rather persists, the stress will not only translate to a chronic variety of stress which happens to be the next type of stress, but also will certainly bring along stress’ strongest companion, anxiety. Chronic stress is a repetitive sensation that is seemingly never ending. Chronic stress is seen commonly as a result of very traumatic experiences. Chronic stress can transpire from childhood trauma and prolonged stressful situations, resulting in the most serious type of stress. All these negative issues over and over, but stress is not always negative. The positive stress we all feel is known as eustress. Eustress is typically associated with adrenaline based situations such as sports and competitive activities.
Anxiety is a relative to stress. And by relative, I mean sibling. Anxiety results from typical negative types of stress like acute stress and chronic stress. Anxiety is a feeling of restlessness that is very intense. Typically not experienced from present moments, but rather a moment in anticipation, as noted by K. W. Estes and F. B. Skinner. Anxiety is a normal feeling that majority of people encounter. Anxiety becomes a true issue when it does not relent, this is when disorders and further issues are brought onto the stage. An emotional state is a massive dictator on how strong anxiety will stay relevant.
Stress and anxiety directly effect performance in any scenario, especially on-the-ball activities like athletics. These situations are where true athletes separate themselves from the average player. Athletes are influenced by stressful situations and anxiety in every match that they compete in. Competitive anxiety is higher for individual sport athletes than team athletes. Individual sport athletes do not have the ability to rely on others for assistance in their job. As well as knowing that only one person can be of blame for a bad performance, this only results in more weight on the athlete’s shoulders. Through numerous studies, there is proof that cognitive anxiety holds a strong influence on one’s performance. In Humara’s analysis, he notes that athletes who are aware of their anxiety and stress, not only score higher on self-confidence tests, but also perform at a higher efficiency in these stressful situations. The athletes who could not properly control their stress saw worse performances by some margin. Showing that clearly, the worse stress and anxiety is seen, the worse the performance will be. These performances were noted at varying skill levels as well. However, there seems to be a different understanding of anxiety in athletes, some believe it to be debilitative while others see it as facilitative. Those who choose the latter see less anxiety in their sports compared to the other. The athletes that have control over their emotions may have the stress perceived as eustress in comparison to those who could not cope with the situation as acute stress.
Stress and anxiety are felt in every individual’s life constantly. The way we manage and cope with these two factors dictate every decision we make. In the topic of athletics, the way athletes control and cope with these factors translate directly to their performance. An athlete, no matter the skill level, if they cannot cope well with the inevitable, they will not be able to perform at their peak. The stress and anxiety that athletes will undoubtedly face will dictate their final performance, whether for the better or for the worse.
Estes, W. K., & Skinner, B. F. Some quantitative properties of anxiety. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 29(5), 390–400.
Humara, Miguel The Relationship Between Anxiety and Performance: A Cognitive-Behavioral Perspective Athletic Insight.
Tan, S. Y., & Yip, A. (2018, April). Hans Selye (1907-1982): Founder of the stress theory. Singapore medical journal.