The United Kingdom’s Mental Health Foundation just concluded hosting Mental Health Awareness Week from May 18th – May 24th. The annual event helps bring awareness to mental health problems within the nation, highlighting that they can affect anyone, at any time.
In conjunction with the event, British Swimming invited Para Swimming ace Ellie Simmonds to share her thoughts on taking life in stride when facing difficulties and stresses both in sport and just in life.
“Mental health, for me, is such a huge thing as an athlete and also as an individual – as a person your mental health is one of the key aspects of life really. As an athlete I think your mental health is so important in getting you in the right frame of mind, for competition and for training – you can physically be the best athlete or be in the best shape, but mentally if you’re not on the game then it’s all up in the air. I know that when I’m mentally strong, when I’m mentally ok that I’m unstoppable, but mentally when I feel low, when I feel drained it’s hard.
“Some days you struggle even if physically you feel great, so I think mental health is so important and I’m so glad everyone at the moment is talking about it a lot in the media and in sport and in the workplace.”
“For me I’m very lucky that I’m super aware of my mentality and my mental health. One of the key aspects that I do to keep myself mentally ok is that I talk to people. I’m very lucky that my coach, Billy Pye is like a best friend – we have that relationship where we talk about everything and anything. Some sessions we just sit on poolside and we talk things through, it might not be swimming it might be everyday life, but what’s on my mind I talk to him about it. Also my dad and my best best friends, they are always at the end of the phone no matter what, whether I’m struggling or even if I’m hyper and I’m doing well that I can just talk and soundboard off them.
“I’m very much into the likes of yoga, mindfulness and affirmations. When I wake up and I know that I’m struggling, I always try and say to myself, write down three things that I’m grateful for each day; it could be something little like grinding some beans and enjoying a cup of coffee, it could be that the weather’s really nice, it could be a nice text I get or a nice comment – something so simple but really to take a step back into how you’re feeling and to be grateful and to realise, ‘yeah sometimes you’ve got these stresses, you’ve got these deadlines, you’ve got these competitions, you’ve got the pressure of the world on you but actually sometimes it’s about you’re human as well’ and to realise there’s little things to be grateful for keeps you going.”
You can hear from Simmonds in her own words via the video posted above, courtesy of British Swimming.