Close up of Haley Smith's facePhotos by Kevin Light
Photos by Kevin Light

Haley Smith shares an Olympic hopeful’s advice for good mental health

Now more than ever, every action counts.

That is the message of Bell Let’s Talk Day 2021, which arrives as Canadians are still living through a pandemic that in the last year has impacted pretty much everything.

RELATED: How to participate in Bell Let’s Talk Day 2021

Team Canada athletes were certainly not immune, with their competition calendars wiped out and the Olympic Games, which many have worked towards for almost their entire lives, postponed. Training has never been so unconventional with such uncertainty of what’s ahead. Time spent away from teammates and normalcy can take its toll.

Mountain biker and Tokyo 2020 hopeful Haley Smith shared with how the pandemic brought back to the forefront the mental illness she thought she had defeated over a decade ago. You can read about her ongoing relationship with anxiety and anorexia in her open and honest first-person article.

Haley Smith on her mountain bike looking over the city from a hill

RELATED: Haley Smith: “My relationship with mental illness is still active” 

In the hopes of helping others, Haley has also shared five pieces of advice for good mental health — actions she has taken to persevere through adversity and keep her Olympic dream alive.

Practice mindfulness and self-awareness

“Whether you do this through formal meditation or some combination of learning and personal practice, there is no mental skill more powerful than the ability to be aware of your thoughts and emotions. Being able to observe and notice, rather than be overwhelmed and judgmental, can help you navigate through any challenge.”

Be active

“Movement keeps us healthy in so many ways beyond the physical and I never fail to feel better after some gentle activity.”

Get adequate sleep and rest

“I mean true rest. Take time away from your computer and phone, the demands on your time, and the trap of constant ‘productivity’. This kind of space is necessary for us to feel truly rested and thus able to take on challenges.”

Develop community

“Friendships, devotion to community, and a sense of collective purpose (for example, the purpose of serving each other and increasing others’ happiness) can give us a big sense of fulfillment. I find that these types of relationships and activities help me stay afloat when my personal mental state is subpar.”

Get out into nature

“Just like movement makes me feel better, so too does being in the woods. There’s just something about being surrounded by nature! It never fails to clear my head, inject some lightness, and make me feel more grounded and stable in the world.”