Mental fitness is very similar to physical fitness. We train hard so that we can perform at our best and be more resilient to injuries. 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 and strengthens our overall sense of wellbeing.
Strengthening our mental fitness is all about doing small things consistently. Below are strategies that have been researched and used all around the world that can help you build your level of mental fitness and maintain a good balance between rugby and the other parts of your life.
Spending time connecting with whānau, friends and team mates helps build our sense of belonging and makes it easier to reach out when we need support.
Fuel your body with the best hydration and food, fresh is best. Try and limit sugary foods and drink where possible.
Doing something nice for someone else is great for our mental wellbeing. That could be volunteering your time or your presence.
Sharing what’s going on in your life, good and bad, with people you trust is a great way to strengthen your support network and get things of your chest when you need.
Take time to notice the things you are grateful for. Doing this daily can help train our brains to make focusing on the positive a habit.
Mindfulness is a great way to give your mind a rest. Focusing on your breath is a useful tool to bring your attention back to the present.
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.
Having time to rest is important. Block out time in advance that is ‘protected time’ for you to spend doing something you enjoy to re-energise.
We can all go through times where we struggle with our mental fitness. It’s important to have an idea of what some of the common signs are so you can keep eye out for yourself and for others. Some common signs are:
Feeling sad, down or not enjoying things you usually would
Feeling very anxious or worried constantly
Participating in unsafe behaviour like excessive drinking, taking drugs or violence
When it comes to mental fitness being impacted we often talk about stress. Different things can cause stress for each of us but common causes are:
Other common experiences that can cause stress within rugby are injury, not being selected and the pressure to perform well. Using the strategies above to cope with stress is a great way to look after your mental fitness.
Take the self-test to help you figure out what you might be feeling and what your next steps could be.