On World Mental Health Day 2017, I wanted to share my own recent experiences and the importance to take care of both your mental and physical health.

I had two health appointments recently, one with a physiotherapist, and one with a psychologist. I always look at connections in words, and I was particularly drawn to the fact that these health professionals have the same start and end letters, however, what goes on in the middle (literally) makes a world of difference as to how (and if) we approach these appointments openly with others.

After all, both are about my health. To look at me, you wouldn’t see anything wrong, both physically and mentally, so why are we still struggling to be open about the mental part, when I can easily have a conversation about the damage I have done to my iliotibial band through running. It’s a bit macho isn’t it – all those gruelling miles and distances achieved. Life is gruelling too – more for some than others – and mentally, it can really take its toll.

I’m sure my friends and colleagues want nothing more than for me to be well, and seeking to be the best version of myself every day. That’s why I’m seeing both a psychologist and a physiotherapist. Both are dealing with muscles in the body, and in both cases, physical movement can be affected, as our mental outlook can paralyse us into a state of inactivity. The brain is a pretty complex muscle, can be lazy as well, and needs a lot of exercise and activity to ensure the aspired outlook becomes a habit and then routine. It’s the same for physical injury. I have an exercise to do around building muscle strength in my knee – do it as many times as possible – all about forming a habit and building strength. The goal is to take pressure off other muscles and ensure all the muscles share the load. The theme with mental health continues – developing my brain and thoughts to overcome the imbalance of negative thoughts with positive ones, having clear goals and sticking with them until they become habits and then routine.

So there we have it. I’ve been to see a physiotherapist and a psychologist. Why? Because life is short – a nano second in time. We need to be the best we can possibly be while we’re here. I may be approaching 50, but I’m only getting started. Longer life expectancy puts the responsibility on us as individuals to maintain good physical and mental health, and where we can, form positive habits to prevent deteriorating health in the future. We are all dealt a hand, but we are all in control of how we play each card.

Are you being the best version of yourself today?

P…..st ….. come on, let’s do this.

Stewart McCombe, Life Leisure Board Member