NFL Players Explain How They Relieve Stress and Relax

sweater, style, relaxing

Source: iStock

Life can be stressful, especially for NFL players. They spend months on the road and experience a ton of physical wear-and-tear on the field. It’s also tough for them to get adequate sleep during periods of intense training. Since pro football players experience long periods of non-stop stress, we figured they must be pretty knowledgeable about finding effective ways to tackle stressors. The Cheat Sheet decided to pick the brains of some NFL greats to get their relaxation secrets.

Former NFL player Terrence Wheatley offered this advice: “Take one hour off the grid! No cell, no email, nothing. Also spoil yourself once a month — a pedicure is my favorite with my wife! Laughing is also healthy and relaxing.”

Here’s more advice from football players who have learned to manage intense stress.


Source: Thinkstock

The most stressful part of being a sports professional:

The most stressful part was the uncertainty of the position. Not knowing when it’s going to end. You’re tied to a team, but no team is really tied to you. That is a big stress factor.


How I relaxed before and after games:

I would develop a routine. If it was an early game, I would eat breakfast beforehand. I would have a pancake, ham and cheese, or an egg white omelet. Then I would look at tapes of old games and go over my notes.


My top relaxation tip:

Do activities you’re passionate about. I do a lot of thing to relax, whether it’s exercising or reading a book. I would also suggest putting down the phone. It’s hard to relax when you’re on the phone or looking at technology. You have to be comfortable with silence and just not doing anything.

Adalius Thomas, former linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

The most stressful part of being a sports professional:

The most stressful part of being a professional athlete was the preparation every week before the game. Practices were really hard. I don’t think people realize that the game plan changes every single week. You might have to learn 100 plays in a week, and sometimes you only have five days to learn plays. You don’t get a lot of body recovery time and you don’t get a lot of mental recovery time. Your mind is just as fatigued as your body in this sport. You always need some family time and some down time, so short weeks were pretty hectic. It was stressful because it was the guys who were prepared the best who got to play the most.


How I relaxed before and after games:

I always tried to do something to take care of my body. Every team has a cold tub and a hot tub [for the players], so I would spend 10 minutes in the hot tub and 10 minutes in the cold tub. I would also get treatments even if I didn’t have any injuries. I would go and ice my knees or put a heating pack on my back. The shoulders and back tend to take a lot of impact during the games. I would also get a massage every week and sometimes I would get acupuncture.


My top relaxation tip:

Meditation. You really have to be at peace in your mind and sometimes you have to give your mind a break. Even if you don’t know how to meditate you can download meditation apps. You need to be able to just clear your mind and just turn everything off and find some way to get away. Meditation is tremendous.

Daniel Wilcox, former player for the Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New York Jets

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The most stressful part of being a sports professional:

The most stressful part of being a professional athlete is the time you are away from home. The time you spend away from your kids and missing the opportunity to be a hands-on dad as much as you want to is really hard.


How I relaxed before and after games:

The number one thing I did before a game to relax is to listen to old neo soul music. It calms me down and keeps me level headed. After the game to relax I get in the hot tub to take away some of the soreness, then go eat a big dinner at a great restaurant.


My top relaxation tip:

When I’m away from football, I like to relax by going shopping!

Le’Ron McClain, former player for the Baltimore Ravens

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