Being mentally fit can mean different things to different people, but for most it’s about being able to live your life with freedom and enjoyment. Coping with life’s ups and downs, recognising your potential, adapting to change and achieving your goals, are all key factors to being mentally fit.
Mental fitness is very similar to physical fitness. We train hard so that we can perform to the best of our ability. The same goes for our mental fitness. Making sure we have the skills and support we need to tackle challenges allows us to enjoy life more. Everyone has different ways of dealing with stress, as well as different amounts of stress they can cope with. The good news is that mental fitness is something everyone can grow and develop. Scroll below to see how you can build your mental fitness.
We have to spend time and effort on doing the right things. Eating well, getting enough sleep and making time for things we like doing are great ways to maintain our mental fitness. Physical signs your mental fitness might be suffering:
Not being able to complete day-to-day tasks as you normally would
Changes in eating habits
Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
Participating in unsafe behaviour like excessive drinking, taking drugs or violence
Struggling to train and play to your usual standards
Feeling easily frustrated or angry
Feeling unmotivated and uninterested by the things you normally enjoy
Feeling down, upset or crying for no obvious reason
Feeling very anxious or worried
Feeling very low in energy and fatigued despite adequate sleep
Maintaining our mental fitness, even when things are going well is one of the key aspects of healthy wellbeing. Below are strategies that have been researched and used all around the world that can help you manage your mental fitness and maintain a good balance between rugby and the other parts of your life.
Have a go at using some of the strategies below. The Mental Health Foundation also has a great guide to wellbeing which you can read here.
Supportive, strong relationships with friends and whanau can be a great source of strength. Arrange to catch-up with friends or family or help out in your local community.
Fuel your body with the best nutrition and find time to exercise outside of training such as surfing, golf or going for a walk.
Doing something nice for someone else releases those ‘feel good’ chemicals in our brains and is great for our mental fitness. Investigate where you could volunteer your time.
Sharing what’s going on in your life, good and bad, with people you trust is a great way to celebrate success and get things of your chest when you need.
Taking time each day to list the things you’re grateful for improves our ability to look for the positives. Try using a gratitude journal to record your thoughts.
Mindfulness is a great way to create space in a busy day and refocus. Just 5 minutes a day can improve your ability to cope with stress.
Sleep is one of the biggest influences of mental fitness, most people need between 7-9 hours and there are so many ways to help improve your sleep. Click here to learn more.
Finding time to relax can be a challenge. Block out time in advance that is protected ‘you’ time. This could be a holiday or simply a day off to rest.
All of us have times when we feel stressed or down and find it hard to live the way we would like to. Luckily, there are lots of different ways to make things easier to manage. The strategies above are a great place to start and there is plenty of other great information throughout this site too. Have a look at some more strategies here.
Everyone expresses how they feel in different ways and for some people that’s through music. Hoani Matenga (former Blues player and member of Six60) used music and lyrics to express his thoughts on rugby, wellbeing and life balance. Have a listen to his song, featuring Matiu Walters, and watch his music video here.