“It’s okay not to be okay”

This statement gets nothing more than a sarcastic thumbs up from me.

Would anyone actually want to hear that when they’re feeling low?

When you’re down and find yourself in a bad place, statements like that might often seem like empty words.

That’s not what we need to hear, it’s vague.

We need guidance. It’s important to acknowledge the fact that you’re feeling low, almost accept it in a way. Accept where you are so that you can find ways to heal.

I often write with regards to football and footballers, but this message, as well as others, can easily be related to our every day lives.

A footballer suffering from injury would often find themselves suffering mentally. In similar ways, someone unable to work (for whatever reason) is likely to feel the same.

In these scenarios we need people to level with us and then guide us towards a better mental well-being. Someone to sit and listen – to understand, not necessarily be sympathetic.

I often see posts and articles with a similar message to the above. But it’s not okay to not be okay. It’s horrible! And the ‘arm around the shoulder’ approach won’t encourage healing, it’ll only paper over the cracks.

We need guidance. Help with where to start when it comes to feeling better. An exercise program, meditation, some sort of routine to put our mind at ease and to get us moving forwards again. We need progression!

Someone letting us know that it will be okay simply isn’t enough.

Would hearing “it’s okay not to be okay” help you?

Not enough pain

I shared the bottom half of this post just before Christmas last year. It ties in well with what we’re all experiencing at the moment.

Perhaps you’re eating too much during lockdown, or not exercising as much as you could (should) be.

Sometimes we aren’t hurting enough in order to make a change. We’re too comfortable and set in our ways and therefore aren’t willing enough to make positive changes in our life.

How bad does it have to get before you decide to stop eating that extra bar of chocolate, or decide to watch tv for another hour as opposed to going for a walk? How long before you decide it’s time to make a change to your lifestyle?

“Healthy body, healthy mind.”

I had this whilst playing football full-time. I knew I needed to be doing more and was aware that I needed to be doing more gym work and more training in order to better myself. But I wasn’t doing badly enough on the football pitch in order to make these changes. I wasn’t being pushed of the ball enough to make me get to training early and improve on my physical strength.  I didn’t make these changes to my daily routine – I was too comfortable.

The same thing applies when we’re struggling mentally. We are aware that we’re down, anxious and maybe slightly depressed. But these problems aren’t impacting our lives badly enough for us to go and get help. They’re not preventing us from going to work and going about life as normal.

I didn’t start looking for ways to improve my mental health until I reached what felt like rock bottom and didn’t want to get out of bed to face the day. I constantly brushed off the negative thoughts until it got to the point where I wasn’t happy with any aspect of my life and would often break down emotionally.

Don’t let yourself get to breaking point.

If something isn’t right, look to fix or improve that situation. It’s not going to get any better whilst parked in your mind and will gradually eat away at you. Whether that’s seeking help from a professional, or even taking it upon yourself to read up on ways to improve and become more positive.

Make an effort to keep get healthy. Your mind will thank you for it. Make small changes to improve your life and reap the rewards of doing so. Aim to be the best version of yourself, no one is going to put the work in for you.

Going through the motions

In a previous post, I spoke about the importance of rest, both physically and mentally.

In these unprecedented times I’m sure we’ve all done a fair amount of ‘chilling out’ – at least physically anyway.

There does come a point where you become irritable, though. It’s important to keep the mind working. Dont’t go through the motions. The easy option would be to slip into a poorly structured routine of waking up, getting through the day working, binge watching netflix or playing on the PS4.

By doing this you’re not exercising your mind or body; which of course isn’t good! If muscles aren’t worked, they’ll deteriorate. In some ways the brain is the same.

I challenge you to challenge yourself.

Dedicate some time to run or walk every day. Read a book. Keep improving! This way you’ll still enjoy a sense of accomplishment each day. Whether it be gaining knowledge or extra fitness.

Despite not playing much towards the back end of this season, I enjoyed the busy lifestyle of working, training and socialising. Although I’m grateful for the time spent doing things I never made the time for before, I’m still keen to satisfy my mind and challenge myself.

Find ways to win. There might not be any matches to play but you can compete against yourself. Go and better your 5k time – don’t stay within your comfort zone!

I’m sure you’ll agree with me saying that these times have made us appreciate what we have at home and in our relationships, whether we are or aren’t able to see our partners or families. However I’ve also learnt the importance of feeling a sense of achievement in working (and stressing over) personal goals.

Use this time to find ways to better yourself! Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Weekend wasted

You do all your preparation during the week leading up to the game, only to be greeted on the Saturday with the news that you’re either on the bench or have not been selected for the squad. Now what?

Everything that happens from this moment until the next game or training session is completely out of your control. It’s important to focus on what you can control. Do your running either before or after the game to maintain fitness, it’s vital that you remain motivated. It’s one game, don’t let it set you back.

Whether it was the right decision to drop you or not, it wasn’t your decision.

How you react to being dropped is down to you. Do you sit and sulk? Feel sorry for yourself and let it ruin your weekend?

Or do you block out the negative thoughts and focus on the positives? – You might need a rest!

If you disagree with it and it keeps happening, then you have a decision to make in terms of your future.

But before you make that decision, think it over, thoroughly. Ask your manager the question, “what more do I need to do?”

The most important thing here is to make sure that the manager’s decision on the Saturday doesn’t ruin your Sunday.

Respect the decision and move on.

‘The End’ is just the beginning

You’ve been let go from a professional club, you’re a failure right? Wrong.

During the time you spent playing full time you have learnt more lessons that cannot be taught in ‘the real world’.

You’re likely to be more disciplined than most, due to the strict diet and training regimes forced upon you. You’re able to handle set backs from the experiences of being in and out of the team and losing big games. You’re able to work with almost anyone – how many players or trialists have you seen come and go during your career? Hundreds? Thousands? You’ve met and trained with all kinds of people and have learned things from all of them.

This is just the beginning for you. Time for a new opportunity, what will you do next? Continue your journey in football and try to play professionally again? Or perhaps explore other avenues, play part-time, learn a trade, it’s entirely up to you.

There is no right or wrong answer. Just because one manager has decided you don’t fit the mould at one club, that doesn’t mean you won’t become the next best thing at another.

Do whatever makes you happy. But don’t get too frustrated. Focus on what you can control and everything will fall into place for you, just how it’s supposed to.

No one will be disappointed in you for ‘not making it’. You might be thinking that you’re nothing if you’re not a footballer. Incorrect.

This is just the beginning.

Not enough pain

Sometimes we aren’t hurting enough in order to make a change. We’re too comfortable and set in our ways and therefore aren’t willing enough to make positive changes in our life.

I had this whilst playing football full-time. I knew I needed to be doing more and was aware that I needed to be doing more gym work and more training in order to better myself. But I wasn’t doing badly enough on the football pitch in order to make these changes. I wasn’t being pushed of the ball enough to make me get to training early and improve on my physical strength.  I didn’t make these changes to my daily routine – I was too comfortable.

The same thing applies when we’re struggling mentally. We are aware that we’re down, anxious and maybe slightly depressed. But these problems aren’t impacting our lives badly enough for us to go and get help. They’re not preventing us from going to work and going about life as normal.

I didn’t start looking for ways to improve my mental health until I reached what felt like rock bottom and didn’t want to get out of bed to face the day. I constantly brushed off the negative thoughts until it got to the point where I wasn’t happy with any aspect of my life and would often break down emotionally.

Don’t let yourself get to breaking point.

If something isn’t right, look to fix or improve that situation. It’s not going to get any better whilst parked in your mind and will gradually eat away at you. Whether that’s seeking help from a professional, or even taking it upon yourself to read up on ways to improve and become more positive.

Make an effort to keep your mind healthy. Make small changes to improve your life and reap the rewards of doing so. Aim to be the best version of yourself, no one is going to put the work in for you.

It’s not fashionable

World Mental Health day opened my eyes to a number of things. It’s clear that in the modern day everyone suffers with their own mental health problems. But this isn’t anything new.

I think it’s great that people are becoming more and more open with how they feel and the mental battles they’ve had to or are having to overcome.

However, I also think that we should be focusing on prevention rather than cure. Everyone wants to be seen to be helping, by letting their social media know, but how many people are actually doing something and are genuinely there for those who need support?

Anyone can post a tweet regarding mental health and how they support the cause. But are they really supporting it by simply posting a tweet? Are they even posting this tweet for the right reasons.. or just to jump on the bandwagon?

Mental health problems aren’t fashionable.

Whilst it’s ‘okay not to be okay’, it’s not okay to just accept that mental health problems are becoming more and more common.

We should be doing more.