HEADS I WIN, TAILS YOU LOSE
IN THIS LATEST HEALTH FEATURE, FOUR TIME CHAMPION TURKINGTON DISCUSSES MENTAL CHALLENGES IN PROFESSIONAL SPORT
Mental health. A hot topic and easily the biggest buzz word this past year. Thankfully, we are beginning to see more and more sports people open up about the challenges they face with their own demons and break down the stigma of needing help. It’s no surprise that sport is one of the slowest to react to mental health; it can often appear as a weakness; and in a competitive sporting arena with small margins, most tend to keep tight lipped and try to move on.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR OWN SELF
The thing is, mental health needs tending to, and brushing it under the carpet has yet to come out trumps. I now like to think of my mental health as a muscle that needs work, rest and play. I think of it as flexible, something that isn’t always the same and can improve as quickly as it can weaken. When my general health nose dived in the past, you can bet my mental health soon followed. It was a very challenging period in my life but I’ve come out the other side a much more resilient individual with a better understanding of myself.
CHALLENGES IN SPORT
As a professional sportsperson, I listen carefully to the words of my peers when they give interviews or open up about struggles. Being in the spotlight and judged is not an easy form of pressure to take. To be successful you have to work on your mental health as much as you work on your performance. The two are intrinsically linked. With help, I’ve been able to learn what works for me and how to maintain a positive attitude over the years. It’s a complete melting pot of many things but there are fundamentals that will easily apply to anyone. I’ll try to list a few.
MENTAL HEALTH HACKS
- GOOD REST. Sleep is natures own medicine for everything, including your outlook. When you’re tired, everything seems much worse. You can imagine how detrimental burn out can be for your positivity. I’ve experienced extreme burn out in the past, so have to keep check that I’m not doing too much – it’s borrowed time in the long run.
- TALK ABOUT IT. I have to admit, open communication isn’t one of my strengths. I’ve have to work hard in this area. It’s important to remove the stigma of expressing how you feel with those closest to you. Normalise open conversations. I’ve come to learn that feedback is fruitful. Find someone you can trust to tell anything to, chances are they can help you more than you’ll ever know.
- CORRECT NUTRITION. I’ve touched on this in my other features. The old saying – “garbage in, garbage out” couldn’t be more true in this instance.
- EXERCISE ENDORPHINS. Building a regular exercise routine into your life will work wonders for your spirit and enthusiasm. I also rely on these endorphins to pick me up if i’m ever feeling a bit flat.
- FIND WHAT YOUR GOOD AT. Sprinkle in a few activities during your week of something that you know you are good at. It can be anything from sport, cooking, consultation, crosswords, cleaning… honestly, whatever you know you are good at – practice it. It’s a little boost for your confidence that can go a long way.
- HAVE FUN. This has been so much easier in my life as my energies improved and I’m so grateful I have enough energy left to go have fun. Having kids makes this task a walk in the park, because it seems we can find fun or a laugh in any situation. Laughter is infectious and a serious must-have for positive mental health.
- HELP OTHERS. Coaching younger drivers is very rewarding for me, and sharing my knowledge gives me a great feeling. I would suggest finding one person, an animal or cause that you can contribute something positive to. The mental rewards are there for the taking and it becomes a really positive experience for everyone.
- SET GOALS AND CHALLENGE YOURSELF. This can be daunting at times, especially if you are feeling low, but once you start to achieve those baby step goals – your confidence will grow. Fulfilling goals and achieving targets is like a shot in the arm. Go for it!
- GET OUTSIDE. Probably the easiest step to take to maintain good mental health is getting outside into the real world. Breathing fresh air and seeing daylight. The morning light is the best for lifting your mood.
Next time Colin will be delving into his immune system and the hints and tips he follows to remain bug free during the motorsport season.Back to news