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Last week was Men’s Mental Health Week. To commemorate, headspace – a national youth mental health foundation – engaged one of Australia’s leading professional esports players, Brandon Holland, to share his thoughts on maintaining a healthy headspace.

It’s not uncommon for headspace to engage professional sports players to highlight the importance of mental and physical health. But, considering the skyrocketing popularity of video gaming, it was only fitting that they include esports players in the conversation, too.

“Professional gamers take their combined physical and mental wellbeing just as seriously as professional athletes,” says Brandon. “Like any hobby or interest, gaming should be treated as just one element of a balanced lifestyle. A passion for gaming doesn’t have to be at the exclusion of all other pastimes, interests and relationships.

“In order to sustain the mental alertness required to master the complex strategies behind many video games, it is critical for me to look after my physical and mental health,” Brandon continued. “I prioritise sleep, exercise, healthy eating and positive relationships with family and friends in order to not only do my job, but enjoy a well-balanced, happy, healthy lifestyle and state-of-mind.”

Gaming provides connectedness to others, which enables young people to feel a sense of social inclusion. At healthy levels, it can increase self-esteem and social acceptance. It can also provide an opportunity for a structured daily routine and is a viable form of leisure activity.

A recent survey discovered that 35% of young men surveyed have never sought support from a mental health professional, despite one in seven young men aged between 16 and 24 experiencing depression or anxiety each year.

“Unfortunately, our research shows that young men are not seeking help to manage their mental health,” says headspace Senior Clinical Advisor, Simon Dodd. “With the help of Brandon, we want to encourage all young men to follow some of our seven healthy headspace tips, as a means of ensuring a balanced lifestyle and positive headspace.”

Tips for a healthy headspace…

  1. Close and connected relationships: Feeling connected to others is an essential part of being human. Spending time with friends, family and people in your community can really strengthen your mental health and wellbeing.
  2. Eat Well: A poor diet can make you feel sluggish, low and increase symptoms of depression and anxiety. But staying hydrated and having a healthy diet with a variety of fruit, veggies, nuts and wholegrains can actually improve mental health.
  3. Stay active: Staying active can help you to sleep better, manage stress and boost your mood. Find a way to keep active that you enjoy and incorporate this into your regular routine.
  4. Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is good for your brain and body. It improves your mood, sharpens your concentration and increases resilience.
  5. Cut back on alcohol and other drugs: Curbing the amount of alcohol and other drugs that you use (or avoiding alcohol and drugs altogether) will help you manage your emotions better and improve your wellbeing.
  6. Learn new ways to handle tough times: There are a lot of different strategies that can help you to manage difficult thoughts and feelings. Things like meditation, taking a digital detox, listening to music, spending time outdoors or writing things down are just a few ways that can help you handle challenging times.
  7. Get into life and do stuff that’s important to you: Keep doing the stuff you love to do and the things that are important to you. It can help keep the fun in your life, give you a sense of accomplishment and purpose, boost your confidence and help to connect with others.

www.headspace.org.au/headcoach

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