Our mental health needs to be taken care of as much as our physical, but can often be neglected, supposedly in favor of productivity and achievement. In fact, nourishing and sustaining all round health is what keeps us fit and active, especially in training for a big event.
Pav Bryan, award-winning cyclist, coach and trainer knows first-hand how important this is, suffering for silence for years with bi-polar disorder. In 2011 he realised something had to change and worked hard to turn his life around through nutrition, exercise, relaxation and the support of those around him. Now he is speaking up and sharing his story with advice for how we can all keep our mental health on top form while training.
- Recognizing that fatigue will affect your mind as much as your body. If you are going to push your body hard your mind will need to be strong. Training your brain or making allowances if you are susceptible to mental health problems. Less training is more than no training.
- Relaxation or recovery for your brain. This can be solo time doing an activity you enjoy, some people like long, hot salt baths, what about meditation. Anything that can allow your mind to switch off. This might be perfect before bed to ensure a good night sleep or first thing in the morning to setup your day (even better both!).
- Eating the right foods. Fresh produce, lean protein and healthy fats rich in omega 3 are proven to help your mind work just as much as your body. Eat as cleanly as possible. Great sources of omega 3 are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel, flax or chia seeds and chicken which has been fed on flax seeds.
- Communicate with your partner, family or friends. When you have a close relationship with someone they should be able to tell you when you are acting off. Hard training can lead to burnout, or mental fatigue, which might make you moody, depressed and irritable.
- Find your reason why or your motivation. If you have something you can focus your mind on, such as an end goal like an event, trophy or competition it’ll keep you focused. You can find your why anywhere but it should light you up. This can be raising money for a charity that speaks to you, maybe it’s your family or even proving to yourself that you can do this.
Pav will be attempting to break the World Record for the fastest ride of Bicycle Route 66 next year – 2500 miles in a little over ten days. All money raised will go to mental health charity Inner Cycle. To follow his progresses follow Pav on Twitter, Facebook or go to his website.