Being a Muay Thai fighter requires an immense amount of discipline, dedication, and hard work. From the moment you decide to become a fighter, you will find yourself training for countless hours, pushing your body to the limit, and sacrificing so much just to get to the top.
But what happens after the competition is over? Many fighters experience a sense of emptiness, loss, and even depression known as “post-competition blues.” This phenomenon is not just limited to Muay Thai fighters, but it can affect athletes in all sports. In this article, we will explore the science behind post-competition depression and how to deal with it.
Disclaimer: The following is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content was created for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional if you have a medical condition and/or before making any lifestyle changes.
What are Post-Competition Blues?
The post-competition blues is a common experience among athletes who have just completed a competition or a major event. It is a (usually mild) form of depression that can be caused by a range of factors, including the physical and emotional exhaustion of competition, a sense of loss of purpose, and a lack of direction.
One of the key causes of post-competition blues has to do with cortisol, a hormone that is produced by the body in response to stress. Stress, in this case, is brought on by hard training, sticking to a diet, and dealing with your life outside of fight camp.
Cortisol is essential for our body’s ability to cope with stress, and it’s not inherently a bad thing. This stress can keep you motivated and it can keep you aware during a fight – it “keeps you on your toes”. But, like most things, if it is released in large amounts for a prolonged period, it can lead to physical and mental exhaustion. After a fight, the body’s cortisol levels drop, leaving you feeling drained, fatigued, and unmotivated.
Another contributing factor is the psychological impact of competing. Fighters invest a lot of time, energy, and resources into preparing for a competition, and the anticipation and pressure of the event can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. After the fight, many experience a sense of letdown and emptiness, which can contribute to feelings of depression.
How to Deal with Post-Competition Blues
Dealing with post-competition blues can be challenging, but there are several strategies that fighters can use to help manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being. Here are a few suggestions:
- Take time to recover – After a competition, it’s important to take some time to rest and recover. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, and giving your body time to heal. If you’ve sustained any injuries during the competition, make sure to follow your doctor’s advice to recover well.
- Stay active – While it’s important to rest and recover, it’s also important to stay active. Exercise is a great way to boost your mood and energy levels, and it can help to reduce some of the blues. You don’t need to jump right back into intense training (you shouldn’t), but going for a walk or doing some light stretching can be helpful.
- Set new goals – Setting new goals can help to give you a sense of direction and purpose after the competition is over. This could be anything from improving your technique to working on your mental game. Setting achievable goals can help to boost your confidence and motivation.
- Stay connected – It’s important to stay connected with your support system after the competition. This could be your coach, training partners, or friends and family. Talking to others about your experiences and feelings can be helpful, and it can also help to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Give it time – Some things you just need to process, allow it to suck for a bit of time before you feel better. Know that it will not last forever and that it’s normal for you to feel like this post-fight.
- Seek professional help – If your symptoms persist or become severe, it’s important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you to identify the underlying causes of your depression and develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs. This could include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Post-competition blues is a common experience among Muay Thai fighters and a normal part of the athletic experience. If you’re experiencing symptoms of post-competition depression, know that you’re not alone and that there are strategies you can use to help manage your symptoms. Taking the time to rest and recover, staying active, setting new goals, staying connected with your support system, and, if needed, seeking professional help are all important steps to take. Remember to be kind to yourself and to give yourself the time and space you need to heal both physically and mentally. With the right support and self-care, they’ll be over with before you know it.