As a five-time NBA All Star and Olympic Gold Medal Winner, it’s safe to say that Kevin Love is doing something right. But the 30-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers player has insecurities like anyone else. For Love, these doubts are a source of anxiety.
“I [always] had this sense that I was doing something wrong,” he explains to MensHealth.com. “I never was. I just had that feeling for no reason.”
Earlier this year, Love discussed his anxiety in an open letter published in The Players Tribune. Love’s brave essay got a lot of positive attention. After all, it’s unfortunately rare that men—let alone professional athletes—speak so openly about their mental health.
“For 29 years, I thought about mental health as someone else’s problem,” he wrote. “To me, it was form of weakness that could derail my success in sports or make me seem weird or different.”
When he was younger, Love’s anxiety “manifested in so many different ways,” he explains. “The only thing I knew was to go somewhere and have a rage-type fit.”
Love finally prioritized his mental health after a panic attack sidelined him during the middle of a game.
“I thought I was dying,” he says. “It was just an out-of-body crazy experience that I’d never had before.”
Now, the NBA star wants other guys to know their masculinity isn’t threatened by mental health issues. Love partnered with Schick Hydro and the Movember Foundation to create a series of “Locker Room Talk” videos about men’s health. In one episode, Love speaks with decorated Olympian Michael Phelps about his struggle with depression. Fans can donate to the campaign, which will fund various mental and physical health programs, and win the chance to meet Love before a game.
Schick Hydro Locker Room Talk
As for his own experience with anxiety, Love describes it as a “never-ending feeling in the pit of my stomach.”
“I just have this thing sitting here that just will not go away,” he says. “For better or worse, I think it will always be there.”
Through therapy, Love has found ways to manage this unease. The athlete finds relief by working out, playing basketball and meditating.
“I use Headspace quite a bit,” he says. According to Love, the app is easy to use and offers meditations that take less than five minutes.
Love also performs a technique where he tenses every part of his body and assesses how he’s feeling. Stress and anxiety build up in his extremities, particularly the feet, and he find that breathing into those areas is relaxing.
“I’ve really learned to breathe into my body,” he says. “It sounds funny.”
Even those who don’t experience anxiety can benefit from one of Love’s strategies: He takes a couple of minutes each day to think about how he’s feeling.
“Just do a self check,” he says. “I try to do that daily.”
And if you do experience anxiety, Love encourages professional treatment.
“It’s always worth a shot,” he says. “You have to look at it like you’re investing in yourself and your happiness.”
For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
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