Why sports is more than just a game. Stress Awareness Month 2023

Why sports is more than just a game


As a designer, I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to be creative and express myself in ways I wouldn’t be able to do in many other industries.

The rewards from working as a designer are countless but on occasion, these rewards are outweighed by the stress that comes with the job: the tight deadlines, late hours, and the mental fatigue that comes from being ‘switched-on’ creatively can take a toll. All these things can lead to stress and burnout that can be difficult to overcome once it has taken hold.

There are a couple of ways that I destress and switch off from work but the most effective for me is exercise. Exercise has been a valid and well-known way to combat stress for millennia. Moving your body and pushing yourself physically to achieve a goal can be fulfilling not only in its way to help with stress but to enhance your physical and mental health; and better mental health helps us to cope better in stressful situations. In a world where we have instant gratification at the click of a button, putting in the work towards a goal that may not be achieved for a month or maybe even a year may not appeal to most.

For me, basketball is my outlet. It has an endless number of facets and aspects to master which gives you an infinite supply of milestones and goals to strive towards. Not only are there endless things to work on from shooting to dribbling and passing, to defending. There are also tiny moments of gratification when you make a shot, a good pass, or a good play on defence. This is something that I think is only possible playing a high-skill sport like basketball or football (whether it is competitive or just for fun).

There is a strange meditative calm that comes over me when I practice and play which I think many can attest to, even in other sports. You could be having the worst day of your life but as soon as you start playing your mind goes from being filled with all the worries and problems of life to being clear. All that matters is making the next pass, hitting the next shot, or winning the next quarter. During my time at university, I struggled with anxiety and stress related to my coursework. I found it difficult to cope with the pressure of assignments, and deadlines. Basketball was my escape from these stresses. When I stepped onto the court, I was able to leave my worries behind and focus on the game. The physical exertion and mental focus required in basketball helped me to release the tension and anxiety that had been building up inside of me. For years, it has been a crutch for me to lean on when times have been hard and will continue to be in the future.

A by-product of participating in a team sport is the community. Having a group of people you can talk to who aren’t part of your normal life can help bring different perspectives and someone else to talk to other than family, friends, or your partner.

Sport can be a lifeline for lots of people and a way to escape the stresses of everyday life. I believe it’s important no matter who you are, to find your outlet. It might be sports. It might even be basketball like me, but having something to help you de-stress is paramount to a happy life. Trust the process.

Gareth Taylor-Southall

Gareth Taylor-Southall

Designer – Digital/Web

Gareth joined our creative team in 2020 as Web and Digital Designer where his imagination and gripping ideas connect across digital platforms to deliver truly integrated campaigns and interactive user experiences. Gareth’s skills include web design, user journeys and audience mapping, and no-code web development, his job sees him work on projects from initial sketch to full launch.

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