Olympic Medalist, Ellesse Andrews writes on the importance of nourishing your mental & physical health.
"Through these moments of anxiety, whether that be performance focused or personal, I’ve learnt the importance of stepping back. Giving perspective and focusing on little things like taking a breath can make such a massive difference in lowering the heart rate and bringing your focus back to the present."
The competition environment is extremely high stress. Learning how to manage this in the preparation for and moments during a competition is essential to making sure I am able to perform my best. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was the biggest competition I have been selected for, and held quite a few moments that have made me solidify the process I have in place to keep me grounded.
Through these moments of anxiety, whether that be performance focused or personal, I’ve learnt the importance of stepping back. Giving perspective and focusing on little things like taking a breath can make such a massive difference in lowering the heart rate and bringing your focus back to the present. Listening to music and walking are two little things that I’ve found really work for me in this process too.
I used these techniques a lot in Tokyo, at times where I was so anxious to the point it could be affecting my race preparation or race day itself. As a bit of an anxious thinker, without the use of personal techniques it is far too easy to fall into the trap of catastrophising, which I was definitely well on my way towards multiple times in Tokyo. Moments of questioning why I am even in this sport, if levels of pressure and stress as high as these is what I am going to experience every time I reach a pinnacle event.
I have access to both sports, and personal psychologists who each help solidify and grow my knowledge of how to mentally prepare so I am able to perform my best on the bike, but also ensuring I am the healthiest I can be mentally as a human being too. Each of these journeys is a process, and will continue to be as I grow and change as a person. But through this I am lucky to have the team I do around me, as we aim to achieve some pretty cool things.
Sport for me, is both a passion, and a career, but what I’ve come to realise over the past few years is how important it is for me to be nourishing all areas of passion in my life. I am never going to be at the top of my game in elite level sport if I am neglecting all the very things that make up who I am as a human first. Things like music, pottery and art, connecting with friends from different walks of life are just some of the areas I need to remember to nourish for my personal mental health, and in turn my wellbeing as an athlete. A sporting career isn’t forever, but what is, is the learning and amount you grow during your time as an athlete. Those traits are what will help me find fulfilment and success in whatever field of passion I chose to pursue next.
Written by Ellesse Andrews