Athlete mental health is something I want to shine a light on in an effort to minimize the stigma associated with sharing your mental health story, and seeking help. In this vide I share what I have found to help with my diagnosed anxiety.
I am not a mental health professional. Here are some crisis lines in case you or someone you know needs support right now:
-Canadian Crisis Line: 1-833-456-4566 anytime or text 45645 from 4pm to midnight
-USA Crisis Line: Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor
Direct from video (may contain errors):
“Hey, I was wondering if you could help me out with my anxiety, anything that you do to help?”
Okay, so we’re gonna answer this question that I just got in my Instagram DMS, I’ve been sharing more about my experience with mental health specifically with anxiety lately in 2015.
When I retired from the National snowboard team, I went through a really tough period of time dealing with and identity loss, even the physiological differences and the things that I experienced. And so I want to make a video more about what I’ve done to help because I went through that that period of time, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I’m really grateful not to experience as much depression now, since I was able to get out of that time. But anxiety is something that still affects me to this day, I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to improve and work on it and be just more cognitively aware of how it affects me. And the things that I’m able to do.
I just want to start off this video, I’m going to go through like some of the things that have helped me a lot. But just I want you guys to know that I am not a mental health professional or practitioner in any means. Just take my advice or take take what I do for myself as just information, just sharing what I do, and hoping that I can de stigmatize the view of mental health in general. And before I get into more of the things that I do, I just want to talk a little bit more about why I say mental health and speaking on it is so important to me and something that I’ve been committing to speaking more on lately. And if you’re an athlete, please stick around because I know I’ll talk a little bit more about athletes specific mental health, but I think that some of this will be really relevant for everybody. So don’t don’t let me lose you. And I just specifically talked to two athletes here.
Now, why I think athlete mental health is so important is because like Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of celebrities coming out and talking about their mental health struggles. And I think this is so important for us to realize it doesn’t matter if you’re rich, famous living this life that everyone envies or people are envying, mental health still will affect you. None of these things are going to take away your problems, having the money, having the fame having the cloud having the hype, these these things don’t help actually, in fact, they usually exasperate the problem. They are mascots are covered up and leave you with a bigger problem later on. And so I want to talk about this because I know as an athlete for myself, I felt guilty, and I didn’t want to share with people what I was going through, not necessarily because of the shame and the stigma, which is, you know, like, that’s something that we can definitely get into, but because of, of the fact that I felt like how should I be feeling like this, I’m living this life that people are telling me, you’re living your dream, you’re living everyone else’s dream, you’re, you’re traveling the world, you’re doing these things? And I was like, how, you know, what are my problems compared to the problems of other people in the world? Now the thing is, some of the world always gonna have it better than you and some of the world is always going to have it worse than you. Don’t come, let comparison determine if what you’re going through is difficult or not, literally, it’s how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling it’s difficult, it’s difficult, and it’s worth you seeking help or doing something about it, and we’re talking about it.
Don’t let the fact that other people might say, well, it’s nothing compared to what we’re going through where we have this other thing. You know, everyone deals with things differently. And so I just hope that that doesn’t hold people back from speaking out, especially when it comes to sports, in an athlete space, but really, for anyone who’s who’s dealing with something, you sharing what you’re dealing with, and being vulnerable about is going to help other people who look up to you or other people around you feel the freedom to be able to do that themselves. So it’s really strong and brave in itself of you sharing getting the help, because it helps other people be able to do the same thing.
So number one, the first thing that really, really helped me when I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and just going back like I had been having panic and anxiety attacks without really knowing what they were for a long time before that. And so having this diagnosis was something that really helped me and I was able to then go and see a psychologist. And so going to therapy is definitely one of the biggest things that helped me I went to therapy every every week of that summer after I retired and retired from snowboarding. And now one cool thing that my discussed with my therapist, he was a former high level soccer player. So he really kind of understood my perspective. And that was something that I really looked for when I was looking for who to go to when it came to therapy was he talked about how physiologically some of these things were affecting the and like how I was I came from an adrenaline sport snowboarding every single day and like having to conquer fear and get myself all ramped up to going to even though I was doing fitness and you know, competing and CrossFit and things like that I didn’t have that same outlet. And so I was creating these things in my life that were you know, almost stress that I was creating myself but to wrap myself up into You know, it’s causing some of these issues, but it was a lot that was happening chemically and physiologically. And so it’s important to understand that a lot of these things might might be happening. And don’t feel weak about it happening because they’re happening chemically to to you.
Another thing is, really at that time, I didn’t want to pursue any sort of medication. And so after that summer, I actually ended up spending every dollar I had and flew to Bali by myself for a month. And I had a whole period of self discovery, I felt like you know, a lot of things in my life I was doing for other people, always worrying about other people. It made me stressed in every moment, I can never be present in different moments, because I felt like I was trying to make sure the other person who was around me was having a good time or, you know, just things like that. So being alone for a month was something I needed, like a foreign country I’d never been to completely on the other side of the world was like, huge for me. I know, even when I told my parents I was going they were worried what if I had these panic or anxiety attacks when I was there. And somehow I you know, I managed not to my therapist assured them though, he thought it was actually a great idea. And so I was able to do that. And then I came back, I had like good digital on meditation practice, things like that when I was there, and felt like this hi from being there. And then eventually, it wore off. And even though I was continuing with these practices, I felt like still I was dealing with this daily anxiety. And so I ended up from the recommendation of my doctor going on an SSRI, which is a selective serotonin was, I’m gonna have to look up for again, what that means. But basically, it’s kind of like an antidepressant, and anti anxiety medication. And I was really lucky, I was on a low dose. And it really, really did help me out. I actually took it for a month without telling my family to try to see if they could see the difference. And they actually started telling you Yeah, you seem really happy and more present and all these things. And it was cool to see. They saw the difference without knowing that I was taking it. So that’s something that helped me I’ve been off it for a little bit over a year, the withdrawal was horrible. But it’s definitely something to speak to your doctor to I wouldn’t recommend or not recommended as totally a personal decision.
But yeah, the other thing is, so like I discussed meditation, meditation was huge. Trying to stick to it. I noticed on the days that I skipped my meditation because I think I’m too busy. That always leads to me having some sort of anxiety or maybe a couple days later, my anxiety attack gets worse. I may have one reoccurring anxiety attack because I haven’t been taking the time to myself, I’ve just been overworking myself, which leads me into I mentioned doing stuff just for fun, not just valuing yourself off your productivity, knowing that you’re more than your productivity, your your your presence, judge your day on your product, not on your productivity, but on your level of presence in the day. And so for me, it’s like this gap between expectations and I’m like I need to be doing doing doing. And that leads me to anxiety when I realize all of a sudden these things that don’t give me anxiety. So I’m just chilling out. And, and just being present in the moment enjoying coffee on the deck, like going down biking when I’m really present in the moment. And so just doing things for fun, having hobbies, things that aren’t leading and having to have this expectation as big goal around them is a great way to get yourself more present and focused in the moment.
Another thing that I did is I actually took out a sheet of paper and journaled with two lists. And one side was all things that give me anxiety. And another side was all things that bring me like calm and peace and sense of mine. And so I wrote down every little thing like laying on the dock under the sun. You know, like that feeling when you’re driving, to go play a sport and you’re so excited, or driving to go see your dog like listening to your favorite song like all those little things. And then all the things that then give me anxiety. And what I noticed was all those things were little moments and like things that really forced you into the present moment. And so being present is so important, which is why meditation and practice like that is important. Now on the flip side of things that gave me anxiety or give me anxiety always comes from expectations. Now there’s also physical things like I know, if I don’t exercise for a couple days, I usually get anxiety and I know because physically I need to have that strict controlled stress response of training and training hard if I’ve just trained like barely moving for a few days, I still unfortunately I get it and that just physiologically with me something that I need to really burn off my energy. Otherwise I have this anxious energy that I haven’t burned off and it outlets itself and not the greatest way sometimes. So that’s a key for me.
Also, just making sure I’m eating frequent meals and things like that. I know when my blood sugar gets low, or I’m hangry I get really anxious. So just keeping in mind stuff like that things like doing sauna, ice baths, stuff like that is a great way to trigger your stress response similar to like a workout, but in a controlled way where you’re dealing with stress, you’re actually being stronger at dealing with the stress mentally and physically, which can help you overcome stress in other ways.
So yeah, so I just noticed that the differences between the two Besides the things that I should be doing more of, and making sure that I’m present in those moments when I am doing those things, and then the flip side of like, it’s always this expectations needing to be constantly on. So making sure that you’re turning off at the end of the workday, having this time to yourself, where you’re not having expectations on yourself, no big goals surrounded by what you’re doing, just doing things for fun, I think is really important. Another thing is being open with those around you so that you can set the boundaries like being open with the relationships that are that matter to you, that are close to you, and that are affected by your anxiety, so that you don’t feel like you’re letting people down, knowing just letting them know like, this is what I’m going through. And sometimes they may react like this, just be aware of it, or telling them what to do. So that if they see you having dealing with anxiety, having an anxiety attack or things like that, they know how to respond. And they can respond in a way that you don’t set out any judgment or anything around that they feel safe doing so and you feel safe around them. That’s really important. So you’re not hiding it.
Lastly is journaling and just taking time to check in. I think that’s that’s really important. Just checking in with yourself every once in a while and taking that time for yourself just to be chill and do nothing or to reflect and just look at some of the things that you’re doing in your day that are contributing are not contributing to your happiness to your well being to your anxiety. So just to end things off again, I am not a mental health or medical professional. I will put some lines like crisis lines in the in the description. Hopefully that can help you guys and lead you in the right direction. And feel free to leave a comment if this is something that you experienced too, or you deal with. I think that mental health especially when it comes to athletes, but in general, it’s something that we should talk more about and be more open and sharing about because the more vulnerable I’ve been, the more my relationships have improved. And so I think that’s really important.