Alister Brown, is an athlete and coach who has been using sport to combat his own struggles with depression. Alister tells us why he feels surrounding yourself with the right training buddies can have such a positive influence on your mental health.
Sport brings endless opportunities to meet new people. I have been active in the running and triathlon world for a few years and now the majority of my friends are people who I have met because of something to do with sport. Relationships in life are vital in being able to maintain a healthy state of mind. Saying that, having a few close friendships is much more fruitful that having many "just friends". Personally I have come to the realisation that these close relationships take precedence over nearly everything else in life such as money, career and materialistic things, as for me it is the one thing which has the most significant positive effect on my mental well-being.
When it comes to sport, it is so much easier to train with other people. Some of you may not necessarily realise that a lot of the pro athletes at the Olympics are actually part of the same training groups and have the same coaches, even though they represent different countries. For example in Triathlon, the same coach would coach pro athletes from a number of different countries even though these athletes then end up competing against each other. This highlights the importance of being around other people who are on the same wave-length and who understand you, so that you can work together effectively.
This is good to know for us because it is so much easier for people with mental illness to get out the house and participate in sport if they have made plans with other people. It's hard to motivate yourself to go alone, so it is good to remember that even the best athletes do not live in isolation and they prefer to be around each other as it can help them to thrive. It helps them being with other people who understand the type of tough training schedules they have and can relate to how they are feeling. The same applies to everyone, especially those who suffer from depression, an eating disorder, or any other mental illness; you are stronger in numbers than you are alone.
Therefore, there is power in choosing the right people to be around. And it is also nothing to be ashamed of if you have to distance yourself from certain people who are not right for you if they work against your positive aspirations in life. Think of you, "number one", and make sure that you have good people on your side.
You can read more on Alister's website.
By Alister Brown