World and Olympic champion Adam Peaty has spoken of the importance of positive mental health and reveals he uses “active meditation” to keep himself in check.
The 24-year-old admits to having suffered a major mental dip in the aftermath of winning gold in the 100 metre breaststroke at Rio 2016 and has since backed mental health campaigns.
Peaty, who is in South Korea preparing to defend his 50m and 100m breaststroke titles at the World Aquatics Championships, feels it is vital for athletes to be able to escape the pressures of professional sport.
“They call it the post-Olympic blues. I think a lot of athletes do go through that,” said Peaty.
“That’s why I’m kind of spreading awareness in mental health in athletes just because it’s so important to set other goals apart from sport.
“I don’t believe there’s a taboo around it and I don’t really think there should be, especially when you live in a world of social media, you live in a world of, ‘they’ve got it better than me’. You live in a world of jealousy, it’s not healthy.
“I always keep myself in check and if I’m feeling angry or tense, I’ll always question why and you’re not going to have a perfect week, no-one has a perfect week, or perfect month. When I go training I can be on cloud nine, or I can be on cloud minus nine.
“If I’m feeling anxious, or feeling something’s not quite right, I’ll always flag it and try and fix it.
“I like meditation – and not that kind of stuff where I just sit down and not think about anything.
“It’s a more of an active meditation. I’d go out for a walk, or get some fresh air on myself. I like to walk at least once a day, or go somewhere different and just think about stuff.”
Peaty, who is the world record holder in both events, competes in the 100m in Gwangju on Sunday, before lining up for the 50m two days later.
Aside from finishing second to South African Cameron Van Der Burgh in the 50m at last year’s Commonwealth Games, he has dominated the two distances in recent years and will attempt to retain Olympic gold in the 100m next year in Tokyo.
“To stay number one over this period of time is very hard and takes a toll on you mentally, it takes a toll on you physically,” added Peaty.
“I think a lot of athletes do fear failure but I’ve failed before, I’ve got beat on the 50 before. I’m not immune to losing, no athlete’s immune to losing.
“I don’t really see any negatives of competition because even if I do lose, or don’t get the best out of myself, that’s going to motivate me for most of the year where I need it in an Olympic year.
“If I do win, that’s also going to motivate me because I want to push harder and harder.
“I don’t get caught up with the pressure, with this kind of status that I’ve got to uphold. I’ve got nothing to prove to anybody.”