Mental challenges are real in sport

Mental challenges are real in sport

By Mandla and Andile Dladla

Over the years shocking and mind blowing stories have emerged about sport personalities of all walks of life facing the challenges related to Mental Health with some cases being as severe as one losing their livelihood.

It was not until recently, when tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, the highest paid female athlete globally, withdrew from the French Open, citing mental issues that the matter was brought sharply into focus.

Osaka literally brought to light the challenges faced by top athletes who, sometimes unwittingly end up suffering from mental fatigue or stress brought by the high expectations of the public as well as big brands associated with sport sponsorship.

Mmakgabo Dlomo is a Mental Wellness coach and founder of an institution called “Mental Pulse” which aims to create conversations with individuals and communities pertaining to mental awareness as well as how one can look after their well-being and the effects and ways of getting to a place of Mental Wellness.

“The company was formed during the year 2019 just before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and at the moment we primarily engage with clients using digital media as a way of getting conversations going,” said Dlomo.

“There are serious health protocols as well as lock down restrictions that do not allow us to venture into communities where we can spread the word and have face to face interactions and conversations with clients.”

According to the Wellness coach, there are far too many misconceptions surrounding the topic “Mental health” with many people strongly believing that it mainly revolves around “Mental illnesses/Disorders”.

But, in recent years there is a term that is used which is called “parity of Esteem” and it’s the ideology that the same amount of emphasis we have on our physical health should be the same with our mental health.

“On our social media platforms like if you go through our Mental Pulse Facebook and Instagram relevant discussions about the myths and facts about this subject are discussed in detail,” said Dlomo.

“The is for instance where out of curiosity someone has the idea that mental health only affects certain types of people which is not true. It (Mental health) affects all of us in different forms and at different points in our lives.

“And, according to studies and recent statistics one in three people will experience mental difficulties at any age at some point in their lives,” she added.

Growing up in England (UK) till adulthood before relocating to South Africa, Mmakgabo recalls having a male friend who passionately loved the game of football and supported Tottenham Hotspurs.

This friend convinced her to attend a Spurs home match and she remembers learning all the White Hart Lane traditional songs and developing the love for not just football but the love to show support to all sporting codes

Dlomo advises everyone who would like to enhance their knowledge about mental health to look up for topics like “mental hygiene” which encourages good mental health through pro-active behaviour and helps us build healthy habits that increases mental wellness.

This behaviour also includes diet and how to develop and inculcate a balanced diet, engaging in daily exercising and getting enough sleep as well developing practices such as “mindfulness”.

According to Dlomo, mindfulness is when you are able to be in the “here and now” without judgement and it helps us to develop a greater sense of self-awareness like how one can practice mindfulness through breath work, meditation and yoga or just simply going for a walk.

She illustrates that this “mindfulness” is being aware of important factors like all your five senses: what you see; what you hear; what and how you feel as the sun shines on your skin and so forth.

We thank Mrs Dlomo for the sit down and wish her at Mental Pulse along with her team all the best in the future.

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