World Mental Health Day fell on 10th October but we are pledging our long-term commitment to talk and act on this topic beyond just one single day. This October, we’re highlighting some of our community’s experiences and tips around how to maintain a healthy mind through a variety of different techniques and practices that they live by. MLR Ambassador, Lara Gillespie, recently spoke about the importance of ‘Connection’ and what role it plays in her life. Here’s what she had to say.
Connection in all forms is something I prioritise and strive for in my life. When I don’t feel connected, my mind takes up all my attention and is absorbed by compulsive thinking. However, when I feel connected, I have a deeper awareness of the self which makes space for deeper connections with the inner body, people and experiences.
Over the past year I have delved deep into learning about self-development, growth and mental health. I love learning all about mind-body connections and I’ve found it super helpful for my mental health and also for performance in sport. I now practice exercises which I find to be powerful, such as mindful breathing practices, yoga, meditation, tai-chi and visualisation. Consistent practice does wonders for me and helps me maintain healthy mental fitness and balanced connections between mind, body, spirit and the people around me. There is science as to why and how these practices work, but simply they help us live more in the present moment. We often don’t notice how much we live in the future or past in our heads or how our minds can be consumed by social media. The world is so fast-paced that it is so hard and almost uncomfortable for us to just be present in the moment.
5 QUICK TIPS TO HELP YOU FEEL CONNECTED:
- Spend some time in nature
- Focus on your breathing
- Move your body however it desires, it’s not about what it looks like it's about how it makes you feel
- Meditate to help reduce stress
- Journal daily gratitude and be compassionate + accepting towards yourself
I often see training as an amazing opportunity to connect with the present moment, with myself and the nature around me. My whole attention is fully focused on what I see, hear or feel. Negative thoughts and self-talk come and go but focusing on my breathing or nature helps me feel fully connected. When doing tough intervals I use positive self-talk and visualisations to keep me focused on digging deep to be the best version of me.
Unfortunately I have been dealing with a health condition for the past year and it has forced me to take a break from full-time training and competing but it has also forced me to find other ways of minding my mental health. Like listening to my body, being patient and by being more compassionate to my thoughts and feelings. By learning to rest more and build in these routines which bring me out of anxious, overwhelmed or low mood states. I find gratitude-journaling really grounding and it helps me to appreciate the connections I have in my life. Journaling in general is the best for my mental health and if I’m feeling stuck or anxious, I write every little feeling or thought down without judgement.
Each day I make an effort to plan something which makes me excited for the day, it is the small things that make my heart full like watching the sunrise, sea swims, coffee with a friend or dancing in the forest with my dogs. All these things help me become more resilient and better able to cope with ‘stressful’ things that daily life throws at me. There will always be lows and highs but fully connecting to them and experiencing them is a good thing.
“Winter can be tough for many, I think it’s so important to prioritise your connection with yourself, your loved ones and with the things you love to do”