Research Shows Strong Link Between Athleticism And Leadership


Teamwork. Dedication. Character. Leadership. Determination. Who knew that when young girls participate in organized sports, they are learning and developing crucial traits for future success in the corporate world? As athletes, albeit intuitively, they may have known it all along.

Here in the US, the groundbreaking federal law in 1972, commonly known as Title IX, changed everything. It prohibited sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding and mandated gender equality in athletics, among other areas. It is one of the key reasons why women’s athletics participation in high school and college has skyrocketed, increasing by 90 percent (by some estimates) over the past four decades.

The benefits of girls playing sports are diverse and far-reaching. Many studies have highlighted results in lifelong improvements in women’s health, education and careers. Title IX’s requirement of gender equality in athletics not only ensures that young women are not treated as second-class citizens and relegated to the sidelines when it comes to athletics, but has profound, oftentimes life-changing, implications in their lives.

Professional skills development starts very early in kids' lives, unwittingly, takes place on rain-soaked soccer fields, sun-drenched beaches and the ubiquitously deafening school gyms throughout the academic year.

We can all nostalgically recollect that first character-defining moment, whether it was waking up at half past four on a Saturday morning, for a three-hour car ride, in order to compete in a regional sports competition, or the daily grueling regimen of running mile-after-mile with the hope of winning the cross-country league championship.

So many young girls have long toiled away, sacrificing sleep-overs and parties in order to reach peak fitness levels, and that is clearly evident by our numerous female corporate and heads-of-state leaders. For many of us, much like our predecessors, we have spurned the limitations of traditional professional roles for the opportunity to make the world a better place, and it all started with that first pitch or daunting hill, which we overcame beautifully.


  • PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi played cricket in India and later softball in the US.
  • DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman played college basketball at Tuft’s University.
  • Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played several sports, including basketball, soccer and softball.
  • Mondolez International CEO Irene Rosenfeld was a four-sport athlete in high school and played basketball at Cornell University.
  • Former US National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was a competitive figure skater and tennis player.
  • Venus Williams, legendary professional tennis player, founded two companies, V-Starr Interiors (an interior design firm) and EleVen, an athletic clothing line.
  • Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, played volleyball
  • The first female head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, was a member of the French national synchronized swimming team.
  • The co-founder of Marvell Technology Group, Weili Dai, played semi-professional basketball in China.
  • London 2012 marked for the first time in history that each of the 204 participating nations had female athletes competing in the Olympics, including, for the first time, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei.
  • A survey of executive women found that 80% played sports growing up, and 69% said sports helped them develop leadership skills that contributed to their professional success.
  • By 2030, nearly a billion women will enter the economic mainstream. Called the “Third Billion”- the first and second are the populations of China and India- nearly 95% of these women are from emerging economies.
5 min read

3 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress Each Evening (Instead of Reaching for Another Cocktail)

When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.

The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.

While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.

Risks of Reaching for Another Drink

Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.

Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.

While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.

Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress

Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!

Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:

  1. Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
  2. Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
  3. Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.

Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.

Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First

It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.

However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.

If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.

I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.