5 min­utes with... JIMI HUNT

Jimi Hunt is builder of the world’s big­gest wa­ter­slide, co-founder of the char­ity Live More Awe­some, and a self-de­scribed “men­tal health change maker”. With ex­er­cise a proven way to boost men­tal health, he’s get­ting be­hind the Tau­ranga In­ter­na­tional Marat

Good Health Choices - - Health bites -

QWhat are some of the top things we can do to­day to in­crease our men­tal health and well­be­ing?

ARealise that you have men­tal health! Most peo­ple don’t. Most peo­ple dis­miss it be­cause they can’t see it like they can with their phys­i­cal health. And they also lie to them­selves about it. I used to, badly. Step 1: Be aware of it. Step 2: Be bru­tally hon­est to your­self about it. Step 3: Change it. With­out writ­ing a novel here (I’ve al­ready writ­ten two), the best thing you could ever do for your men­tal health, and life, is to learn to med­i­tate. It’s the se­cret sauce to be­com­ing calmer, re­duc­ing your stress, in­creas­ing your ca­pac­ity for love, com­pas­sion, em­pa­thy, to­wards your­self and to­wards oth­ers. Do it.

Q AIn what ways does ex­er­cise boost men­tal health? Ex­er­cise, even if it’s just 30 min­utes out­side walk­ing per day, is great for your men­tal health. In fact, 30 min­utes walk­ing out­side is way bet­ter for your men­tal health than go­ing to the gym. Vi­ta­min D is key for good men­tal health, es­pe­cially dur­ing the win­ter – you need to be

out­side get­ting as much sun as you can. You can use that time as med­i­ta­tion. Don’t lis­ten to mu­sic, just spend time with your­self, check­ing in on your­self. If you’re not do­ing it by your­self, it can be a great time to so­cialise with oth­ers; just make sure you keep the con­ver­sa­tions pro­duc­tive. Gossip, com­plain­ing, dwelling on the past is not great for your men­tal health. Cre­ate an ex­er­cise goal to have some­thing to work to­wards – like en­ter­ing the Tau­ranga In­ter­na­tional Marathon! You can walk or run it and there are dif­fer­ent lengths start­ing from 2km, but hav­ing a tan­gi­ble goal to work to­wards over win­ter is so good for your men­tal health.

Q AWhat does an av­er­age week look like for you in terms of health and fit­ness? Men­tal health is the most im­por­tant thing to me. If you get the in­side right, ev­ery­thing else falls into place. So

each morn­ing I start with 30-45 min­utes of med­i­ta­tion. I per­son­ally de­test ‘ex­er­cise’; you’ll never find me in a gym. I do, how­ever, re­alise I need to move my body and keep it in a rea­son­able or­der, so each morn­ing I do a set of ex­er­cises called the Five Ti­betan Rites. They’re an an­cient Ti­betan spir­i­tual and yoga prac­tice con­sist­ing of 5 asanas (yoga poses) that take about 10 min­utes to com­plete. I also try to go for a 30-minute walk ev­ery day, whether it be prac­ti­cal (go­ing some­where for some­thing) or just a ca­sual stroll. My big­gest form of ‘ex­er­cise’ is ad­ven­tures. I will climb, scram­ble, bush-whack, run, jump, what­ever, if it gets me to a wa­ter­fall, to the top of a beau­ti­ful cliff or stun­ning view. I find my ex­er­cise needs to be prac­ti­cal; I’d rather move three square me­tres of dirt for a friend than run on a tread­mill or lift weights.

Q AHow do you get mo­ti­vated to ex­er­cise on days when you just don’t feel like it? I don’t. If I truly don’t feel like it then I don’t do it. But what I do do is check in on where those feel­ings are com­ing from: Why are they there? Why are they do­ing some­thing to me to stop me do­ing what’s best for me?

If I can find out the an­swers to those ques­tions and then work on them, the rea­sons that stopped me should dis­ap­pear. You are also less likely to miss days if you have some­one help­ing you be ac­count­able or have a per­sonal goal that you are work­ing to­wards. It’s also good to be kind to your­self. It’s ab­so­lutely okay to miss one day, but don’t miss the next. And if you do miss the next? Then you should go back to ask­ing that ques­tion, ‘Why?’, and then work on fix­ing it.

Q ADo you think New Zealan­ders are be­com­ing more open to talk­ing about men­tal health strug­gles? They are. We’re a long way from where we need to be though; we have re­ally only just started the dis­cus­sion. That dis­cus­sion also has to move along from be­ing just about men­tal ill­ness to be­ing about men­tal health. We all have men­tal health. We need to start look­ing af­ter it be­fore it turns into men­tal ill­ness or a men­tal health prob­lem. We have PE at school. Where’s ME?

Q AWhat are some of the best ways to sup­port some­one who is strug­gling with men­tal health is­sues? Love. Un­con­di­tional love. Em­pa­thy. Com­pas­sion. They have to feel like no mat­ter what they tell you that you will un­der­stand and be okay with it, that they won’t be judged. They’re sim­ply scared. Scared to talk. Scared to act. It feels hope­less and, strangely, it also feels fa­mil­iar and com­fort­able. They need to know that they can get bet­ter and there are ways and means to make that hap­pen, in­clud­ing my free ‘Ba­sic Re­set’ pro­gramme. It’s a re­ally tough line to strad­dle; you need to gen­tly en­cour­age them to take the first steps to­wards get­ting help but you can’t force them to do any­thing. Un­for­tu­nately, no one can do the work in their head ex­cept for them.

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