sophie everard on fitness and mental health
We catch up with the lifestyle guru about dealing with depression and her guide to being well.
From scrabbling around hills to catching tortoises in the mountains, Sophie Everard's childhood was one big adventure after the other. Growing up in Greece, she was a happy child; it wasn't until she lost her father as a teenager that her world came crashing down. Grief soon turned into depression, but in talking about it with friends and family she slowly began to find solace. Fast-forward to now, and not only has Sophie's lust for life returned (as a fitness instructor, she spends her free-time surfing and travelling the world), she's dedicated her career to improving the mental and physical well being of others. Having recently launched her fitness and wellness blog, Mad To Live, we talked to Sophie about the sport, cerebral balance, and stigma surrounding mental health.
When did you first become interested in issues surrounding mental health?
I first became interested in the issues surrounding mental health following my own recovery from depression. When I was a teenager I very suddenly lost my dad, whom I was extremely close with. I had an amazing childhood with him swimming and sailing in Greece, catching tortoises in the mountains and play-boxing in our living room. Once I was feeling good again, I realised how this is actually a topic that is totally normal. It's every day.
Do you find it difficult to talk about your own mental health?
I used to find it difficult because as a teenager, I couldn't even understand exactly what it was, let alone process what I was feeling. It was all just extremely confusing and so I couldn't share. I felt that once I shared what had been going on and what I had been going through with my close family and friends, it was like a weight had been lifted, and was extremely cathartic. All I had was support, many, many shoulders, and loved ones wanting to help me heal and get me back to feeling great, and feeling stoked about life again. Now, I view physical and mental health as knitted
You've spoken a lot about the inherent link between physical fitness and mental wellbeing, could you elaborate a bit on this?
I believe that physical fitness and mental health are inherently intertwined. Exercise and sport are there as ways to keep our bodies not just physically fit, strong and capable, but equally, mentally in check, cerebrally balanced, and ultimately, from what I have learnt, happy. I just see them as going hand in hand and as normal to discuss a workout as how you're feeling overall.
Why do you think talking about mental health is still so stigmatised?
I think the stigma around discussing mental health has existed because mental health isn't necessarily a tangible issue in the same way as if you went to see a doctor for a physical issue like a sprained ankle. I think there used to be a culture of keeping mental health issues buttoned up, strong people just get on with it, etc, especially with men.
What can we do to erode this stigma?
I think we can erode this stigma through conversation and providing support networks. Charities like Heads Together, MIND and Calm, and other experts are doing amazing work to change the conversation on mental health and wellbeing, providing support networks, and to show that there is normalcy in this every-day topic.
Do you think attitudes towards mental health are changing?
I think that leaps and bounds are being made in attitudes towards mental health. It is much less of a stigma, and the above mentioned charities are doing incredible things to contribute to this.
Is modern life making us more depressed?
I believe the pressures of modern life can sometimes be extremely overwhelming if we don't ensure we are also trying to live a balanced and nourishing lifestyle, professionally and personally. We are all trying to juggle so many balls at once, and with an influx of "perfect" lives constantly presented to us across social platforms, it can cause a lot of pressure.
What are your tips for mental wellbeing?
I think it's extremely important to make time for mental wellbeing. Taking time to just do what you dig in life, what makes you personally stoked. Indulge in your hobbies, passions, in spending time with friends. Make time for fitness, for doing something that makes you sweat and smile, it quite simply makes you feel great. Allow time to decompress if you work crazy hours, to switch off, and to enjoy nourishing activities you love, like a good meal with friends, a chilled yoga session or a cruise around a sunny park.
What's the story behind Mad to Live?
Mad To Live is my lifestyle, fitness and travel blog and Instagram which I started last summer about living breathlessly through seeking everyday adventure. A quote from one of my favourite books, On The Road, by the seminal beatnik author Jack Kerouac, it basically encapsulates in three words exactly how I like to live my life, it is "Mad To live".
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
My hopes and dreams for the future are to continue to invest in what stokes me out the most in life, to keep exploring and adventuring, to nourish myself and others physically and mentally, to surf more, and to keep seeing the world. Get out there.
This week, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place in the UK, in an effort to increase the conversation around the much neglected subject. To coincide, all week i-D.co will share voices from the fashion industry and beyond, discussing their thoughts, feelings and experiences of suffering from mental health issues.