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Life as an Athletic Trainer: A Balancing Act

Posted February 23, 2016

Desi Rotenberg
MS, LAT, ATC

Desi Rotenberg, MS, LAT, ATC

Life has many ways of challenging us. In our personal lives, our professional lives and really in any aspect we can imagine. A question I often find myself asking is, “How can I stop the chaos of life for just a few minutes?”

At first, I didn’t believe it was possible. Especially as a young, entry level Athletic Trainer (AT), it seemed every other night I was working an enormous number of hours, like a record playing around and around with no end in sight. Now don’t get me wrong; I love what I do. But always having to focus on the needs of others can be extremely taxing, both on the body and on the mind.

After being in the profession for a few more years and gaining significant insight in both my professional life and in my emotional maturity, I was able to establish a pattern in my day to day functioning that has helped me exponentially. It is almost as if it is night and day. The solution that personally made a world of difference, was finding a balance.

In biology, we talk about the concept of homeostasis, or the constant process of biological tissue creating an ideal equilibrium for optimal functioning. If my body can subconsciously and automatically create balance within itself, why couldn’t I do the same in my own life? It wasn’t until I started applying various principles to my own life that I began to realize just how much control I really did have.

I believe there is an algorithm that can be incorporated into daily life, which can make all the difference when achieving balance, both internally (mind, body, soul) as well as externally (personal and professional life).

First, in order to maintain balance between home and work life, you must identify the priorities. Are your priorities your immediate family or your professional family, including players, coaches and employers? Secondly, are you doing the job for yourself or for someone else? You cannot help others, and subsequently achieve equilibrium, until your needs are first met.

I could tell you yoga, diet and exercise are the cure-all, but I believe that those are only half of the solution. In order to achieve balance within yourself, there are 4 things you should try in order to find the equilibrium that can open the door for optimal functioning on a regular basis:

1. Focus your energy on areas where you can give your best effort

We often spend a lot of our time and energy wasting it. Find something in your professional and your personal life you can attach yourself to and enjoy doing. Ensure that it gives you a healthy challenge and frequently removes you from your comfort zone.

2. Stay loyal and trustworthy

I like to call this one professional integrity. The reason this one is listed, is because it is extremely difficult. Think about how easy it is to gossip about a co-worker or supervisor when they are not around. Think about how often negative thoughts of others cloud our judgement. If we maintain a positive mindset, and maintain our ability to think logically and rationally, others will trust us with more responsibility. They will see you don’t get caught up in office drama, and you are there to do your job to the best of your abilities. It will also help you establish honest, true professional relationships. At the end of the day, be the person that if someone were to gossip about, others would say, “That just can’t be true.”

3. Stay faithful in your personal and professional relationships

I call this one personal integrity. Who are you when no one is around? Often we search for affirmation and feedback from external sources, and it can erode our sense of self-empowerment and self-esteem. It is usually the ones who are closest to us who believe in us the most. Always remember people are around you because they love you. It can be a difficult thing to remember but can prevent you from seeking temporary affirmation in the wrong places.

4. Allow your mind an opportunity to relax

Whether it’s yoga, running, swimming, jazzercise, meditation or underwater basket weaving, find a hobby outside of your professional realm. As an AT, you have so much knowledge in your head and you have to constantly be putting that knowledge and those skills to use. Allow your brain to focus attention elsewhere, on tasks that are challenging, yet fun. Set time on a daily basis to decompress. Focus on all of the good things you have in your life and reflect on how far you have come, both in your personal and professional lives.

The key to success is having a balanced mindset. Athletic training is an extremely difficult profession and is not meant for everyone. For everyone who struggles, and believe me when I say that everyone struggles at one point or another, it is important to remember you are never really alone. At the very least you have yourself. In order for athletic training to continue to be an upstanding profession, we must challenge ourselves every day to create balance within our lives.

About the Author

Desi Rotenberg, originally from Denver, Colorado, graduated with his bachelor''s degree in 2012 from the University of Northern Colorado. He has been a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer since 2012 and earned his master''s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Central Florida in 2014. He currently is a high school teacher, teaching anatomy/physiology and leadership development. Along with being a teacher, he wears many hats, such as basketball coach, curriculum developer and mentor. He has been a contributor to the BOC Blog since the summer of 2015.