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  • Writer's pictureAnnon

Could Basketball Help Ease Anxiety?

Chronic Anxiety Disorder

Adina’s parents had a very difficult relationship. They had already separated twice. Each time, her father had moved back into the family home after a few months, but things never really got better. They tried very hard, for the sake of the kids, to keep things civil and not fight too openly, at least most of the time. But no one was fooled by their efforts to pretend that things were ok. There was a permanent atmosphere of suppressed fury that spread into every crack of the home. Both parents exuded loneliness and grief for their marriage.  Adina felt like there was barely enough space left for her amongst all those toxic feelings.

Adina developed a chronic anxiety disorder. She had permanent headaches and stomach aches.  Extremely irritable, she would snap at everyone at the slightest provocation.  Screaming at her siblings if they so much as looked at her the wrong way was a daily occurence. She would walk around her school stiff with tension with her hands balled up into fists or endlessly drumming the table when she was in class. She had trouble sleeping, which made her mood even worse. Even though Adina didn’t really socialize in real life, she would spend hours scrolling through social media sites.  Getting into long arguments about politics on online forums only added to her anxiety.

Mentoring First, Then Therapy

Adina’s parents were well aware that their daughter was not in a good place and called Kav L’Noar. Our assessment was that Adina needed therapy, but that she wasn’t yet in a place where she was open enough for it to do any good. A therapeutic relationship is two sided. Adina was so wound up that she simply wouldn’t be able to connect.

In the meantime, Kav L’Noar suggested that Adina try mentoring.  Although, mentoring is also two sided, the mentor can use activities to break the ice and has the freedom to create a more equal and open relationship.

Basketball was a way to get some of her nervous energy out of her body.

Mimi was chosen to be Adina’s Kav L’Noar mentor. Mimi was a former basketball champion, who had spent her high school years competing in the local junior leagues. She never turned pro, preferring to open her own personal training business instead, but she was still very attached to the game. Naturally, the first thing that Mimi suggested they do together was shoot some hoops at the local park. Adina was relieved not to have to do any talking, and to have a way to get some of her nervous energy out of her body.

As a personal trainer, Mimi was very aware of the importance of winding down after a workout. After every basketball game, she encouraged Adina to join her for breathing and stretching exercises to relax her body. As time went on, she introduced basic meditation into the mix, and Adina learnt the technique of freeing her mind from the usual storm of thoughts and feelings.

Adina started to see these sessions as a safe haven in her week. Because Mimi respected Adina’s privacy and boundaries and didn’t try to force her to open up, Adina developed a true bond of trust with Mimi. She didn’t share everything that was in her head, but she did appreciate having someone there to talk to about how things were going. After eight months, Adina felt calm enough and strong enough to start therapy at Kav L’Noar as well. Adina’s therapist continues to help her work through her anxiety and ways to deal with what is happening at her home.

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