The New Year heralds a new perspective for us here at Zephyr HQ, not only have we refreshed our brand but also refined where we’d like to sit within the industry and, as we have touched on in previous blogs, we now have three key focuses: Mind. Body. Bowl.
In recent years there has been an increase in usage of the term ‘wellness’ within the global sports and leisure industry, this is something we feel is incredibly important moving forward. Now if you don’t know what we’re talking about when we say ‘Wellness’ you have clearly been living under a rock but, just in case, it refers not only to the physical and nutritional health of an individual but also their mental wellbeing.
That in itself opens up a whole variation and interpretations of what ‘Mind’ means – it’s a veritable ‘can ‘o’ worms’ and naturally depends on the context but, having experienced battles with my own mental health and wellbeing, I wanted to take some time to focus on ‘Mind’ and what that has meant for me personally.
Did you know that in the UK approximately one in four people will experience a mental health problem every year? Considering at the time of writing this blog the current population total in the UK is 66,418,946 people that means roughly 16,604,736 people. The most common problems include depression, anxiety, OCD, panic disorders, phobias and traumatic disorders (PTSD).
Mental health issues have become less of a taboo subject in recent years, with the rise of more high profile people addressing the subject, quite often because of personal experiences. This has lead to more coverage in the media and in turn a realisation within many industries that mental health can no longer be brushed under the carpet.
If we were to apply the above statistic to us here at Zephyr it would mean that at least one of us has suffered from a form of mental health problem. The statistic is correct, I have been dealing with anxiety most of my life and more recently being treated for depression. For me the biggest hurdle has always been myself, however, I’m very lucky to have a very supportive network around me (more commonly known as ‘family’).
Over the years I have tried a few different ways to help relieve my mental health issues from counselling to medication to adjusting my lifestyle. The following are some of my thoughts on the different things I’ve tried…
There is an old saying; ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and as with most old sayings, there’s a lot of truth in it. For me, the biggest thing was admitting I needed help, but once I did I soon started to feel a little lighter. By sharing how you’re feeling with others you will soon find that they may be able to suggest ways to relieve symptoms, which leads me to my next point.
Just the simple act of breathing does wonders – now I’m not going to lie but I was pretty sceptical about meditation. I always found the idea of mediation a little ‘fluffy’ however I recently challenged myself to give it a go and downloaded an app called Calm (a very popular app for mindfulness and meditation) to set up a free account. At first, I found it quite tricky concentrating but the app seemed to know when my mind drifted back to noisy thoughts and got me to refocus. Also, I found breathing in time a little difficult due to my asthma but once I had worked at it for a while (about one session every day for a week) I really did feel a benefit. The only thing now is for me to keep it up!!
The biggest help for me is simply getting outdoors. At my worst point I used to be reluctant to do anything, instead, I would stay in, with my mind racing through hundreds of thoughts at a time. I found getting out into the fresh air and doing something really does help my mind relax and, in turn, helped me to feel a bit better about myself. During my time at university, I found cycling really helped and as I went to UWE in Bristol it really didn’t take long to get away from the hustle of the city into the calm of the countryside. More recently though, just going for a nice long walk with my Springer Spaniel, Tully, somewhere in the Cornish countryside gives me a chance to pause my mind and just concentrate on playing fetch with my best bud in the here and now.
From my experience, I have found the biggest barrier is a lack of understanding around mental health. However, now with mental health becoming more of a focus in many industries, we have a real chance of helping to make a positive change and for me, a balance of technology through a simple app combined with good old-fashioned fresh air has really put me on to a positive route forward.
I hope this article helps and I am sure it resonates with many of you – please do share with us your approach to mental well-being and exercise and what positive change that has brought to you.
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” –Buddha