To mark Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, Snow+Rock ambassador and Olympic snowboarder Jamie Nicholls has shared his thoughts on the highs and lows he faces as a professional athlete, and in his daily life, and some tips on how to de-stress and take care of your mental health. 

How do you cope with the pressure of being a professional athlete?

“I find pressure quite scary sometimes. Especially in a competition, it’s definitely tough because you do sometimes feel the pressure of people watching you, you’re obviously the only person dropping into that contest run and all eyes are on you. Especially in the Olympics when there are millions of people watching on TV. But the best thing to do, for me, is just try to not over think things and think there’s always another opportunity. If this one doesn’t go right there’s always another competition and there’s always another Olympics in four years’ time. So just trying to enjoy it always helps me with pressure, and to just do the best you can, you can’t do any better. If you’ve prepared and done everything you absolutely can to be as good as you can on that day then whatever happens, happens, and I truly believe in that.”


Jamie’s top tip: Don’t overthink it! Try to enjoy it and, remember, you can only do your best and there will be more opportunities.

How do you deal with pressure in day-to-day life?

“If I’ve got loads of things to do, I always try to make a list of things because my brain cannot cope with too many things going on at once. And I think that's important, especially when trying to tick off things and you’re feeling the pressure a little bit, it’s just good to write those down. And also, trying not to do too much at once. That is a really important thing I’ve learnt, that you can say no to things if there’s more things coming in and there’s so much you’ve got on already, just say no. Just say no to it, it makes you get everything else out of the way first and then you can go back and say yes I can do that. And that’s what I’ve found as I’ve grown up and I’m getting older, that it’s the best way for me.”


Jamie’s top tip: When it all gets too much, write a list, and don’t forget you can always just say no when your plate is full.

What do you think about the effects of getting outside on mental health?

“Whether it's snowboarding, going for a walk, going for a run, whatever activity you want it to be, just being outside is definitely an amazing thing for your body and mind. It reduces stress, anxiety and depression and it’s been proven that it boosts endorphin levels and dopamine levels, which promotes happiness. So get outside, enjoy nature, it makes you happy!”


Jamie’s top tip: Get outside, it makes you happy!

How have you stayed positive during lockdown?

“I’ve found that doing exercise everyday has massively helped me. Just going out in my garden, doing a little workout, whether that’s just for half an hour a day, has massively helped. Having a stretch as well is always really good, and because I’ve not been able to snowboard, and that really upsets me, I’ve actually built a rail and a ramp in my garden so then I can – I’ve spent probably £100 and it was so worth it – just being able to strap into my snowboard just for an hour everyday or an hour every couple of days has really helped me mentally because not being on my board for that long has really been a struggle.”


Jamie’s top tips: Exercise and find a way to keep doing the things you love…even if you have to improvise a bit.

Do you have any coping mechanisms for stress?

“I’ve got a few things actually. I like to listening to music, I find music really helps me just chill out, even when I’m working or doing something, just putting music on definitely helps. Going for a nice walk in the fresh air is always a good one too and I actually love just riding my snowboard. Especially right now, where I’ve got a setup in the garden, if I’m feeling a bit stressed out from stuff I tend to just take myself out, strap in my board and ride, and I always feel like that is one of the best things for me for sure. Right now, during lockdown, it’s definitely helped.”


Jamie’s top tips: Music, fresh air and find a way to keep in touch with your favourite hobbies.

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