The power of sport for body and mind – Mental Health Awareness Week
CASS Networker Letty speaks to people in North Bristol who have used sport to improve both their physical and mental health.
Joe Joyce – Bristol Rugby
Joe Joyce plays for Bristol Rugby. He grew up in Southmead where playing sport was a natural part of his childhood. After he want to college, aged 16, he realised things were more serious – he wanted to be a professional sportsman. Here Joe reflects on his experience and just how important sport is in providing a focus and balance to his life.
So what influence has being from Southmead had on you as a rugby player?
Southmead’s a real tight community. It’s made me who I am; to value the importance of sticking together and looking after your team mates. This has all come from being from a tight community and a big family.
What’s it like being part of a team?
This is the best thing about rugby I reckon – the friendships and the comradery. You get a real togetherness in rugby.
What’s it like when you come together and you get good results?
The last couple of years we didn’t really celebrate victories, we always expected to win. If we didn’t win, we’d be disappointed. This year, we’d do anything for a win. We celebrate our wins big time. It feels better this year. We’re embracing it and enjoying it.
Does playing sport help manage stress?
Once you’re on the field, you forget what problems you may have outside of rugby. You’re on the field with your mates and giving everything, so you put things aside. It’s healthy for your mental state. It’s time out.
How does rugby benefit your mental wellbeing?
When I was growing up, I had rugby, football, cricket…I spent all my time doing stuff and playing sport with groups of people. It’s when you’re on your own you start thinking stupid stuff. I was never lonely, so I never had any dodgy thoughts to be honest.
Do you think there is a stigma in talking about our mental health?
Definitely, there’s all the stuff about being a man and being proud. People find it embarrassing to say that they have a problem or they need help, which just digs them into a bigger hole.
What else has rugby given you?
A real focus and dedication, which helps me with all aspects of my life.
Sport and our mental wellbeing
Exercise is great for our physical health, but also does wonders for our mental wellbeing too. Getting active makes us feel good, giving us a boost in energy and helping improve our mood, manage stress and improve sleep quality.
Sometimes however, we do struggle and things can feel overwhelming. It’s good to know what’s out there to provide help and support if this is the case. Check out the links for information, advice and services when you may need it.
If you run a sports group and would like more information about how to look out for the mental wellbeing of your team, contact Letty on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07400 118 625.
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