I’m all about those awkward conversations. Maybe because I’m a little awkward myself. But I’ve learnt that sometimes you’ve just gotta speak up, and let a friend know that you’re not doing well or that you need to chat. It goes the other way too, ask a mate how they’re doing. I think as guys we just need that permission to speak. So offer that moment to a mate, or show that permission by opening up yourself. Start the conversation. You’ll be surprised how powerful it can be.
For me, staying on top of my health means staying active – be that going for a run, swimming a few laps, hitting the gym or playing sport. As long as I’m up and at em, I know I’m doing something to better myself; to get stronger, faster, fitter and healthier. Being active also gives me space to clear my head, to disconnect from everything else and be present. That’s not to say that running a bath and a lighting a few candles goes astray either. It’s all about balance.
Being active is an important way for me to continually strengthen my mental wellbeing. Getting in an early morning surf or shifting some weight in the gym really sets me on a good course for the day. Aside from the physical benefits, it mentally puts me in a strong headspace to get stuck into everyday challenges with a positive attitude.
I use to reckon mental health selfcare was all yoga and meditation. I now know that it’s whatever I can do to focus on me and forget about everything else that might be go on. My meditation is four wheel driving, fixing my Landrover and any kind of motorsport. My yoga is camping, fishing and anything outdoors in the Aussie bush. As guys, we’re pretty crap at taking care of our mental selves. It’s time we pulled our fingers out and spent more time focussing on us, and doing what we need to do to stay mentally healthy. I’m calling on all Aussie blokes to do just that.
We all need to practice more self-care and loving kindness: caring about and being kind to ourselves and to each other. Find what you love doing, what you’re passionate about, what gets you excited, what relaxes you – and make sure to do these things regularly. For me, it’s about spending time with and around my friends, family, movies, art, travelling – all the good stuff! Let’s all be mindful and embodied, switch off from the stresses of the day-to-day when we can, and reconnect with what gives us meaning in life. If you see your mates or family are down or stressed out, reach out and provide them support by reminding them to take care of themselves – nudge them to do something they love doing. These are the internal supports and resources that we all have to better look after our health.
Vulnerability equals connection equals good times. When I’m feeling crap, opening up about it to my buddies can be really hard, especially when I keep telling myself I should be able to manage on my own. But when I finally do, a funny thing happens: they listen, they accept me and they do what they can to help. In the end not only do I feel better, but we’re better friends for it. It’s win win!
Work out what helps you thrive and actively create habits and routines to ensure these become integrated into your daily life. But remember, also, that you don’t have to do it all on your own. So create social supports around you and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help!
Looking after myself physically is a big factor in looking after myself mentally, so I love going for a swim, getting some salt water therapy in the surf, or just going out for a run to clear my head. Recently I made a big move from Queensland to chilly Melbourne, so I’m focusing on things I can do more easily in a cold climate – indoor rock climbing has been an awesome option! I also spend a fair bit of time writing my thoughts out in a journal when things are getting stressful, just as a way to get things out on paper and have more of a sense of control over what I’m dealing with. Beyond that, I also have to make sure that I’m feeding my social side by getting amongst the people that I love, and sleeping well (and eating enough fruit and veggies – Mum must be so proud!)
I grew up with the old man telling me to ‘cowboy up’. He stole it from a move called ‘8 Seconds’ and was his way of telling me to man up. Like most of us he wasn’t as “tough” as he made out though and was always up for a chat. As I got older I chatted less to him about stuff and it was only when things in life went a bit downhill I remembered how important it is to let people know when you aren’t doing real well. I was pretty surprised how mates stepped up and backed me during that time too. Now, sometimes I try to ‘cowboy up’ and other times I just need a chat. I also see a psych pretty regularly whether things are good or bad, go surfing as much as I can and exercise every day.