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Balance and perspective are keys to feeling OK

“Everyone performs at their best when they’re feeling good and they’re happy.”

It’s a simple statement that applies on and off the hockey field for Australian Olympian Rachael Lynch, who credits work-life balance and perspective as keys for overall mental health and wellbeing.

When she’s not plying her trade as Hockeyroos goalkeeper, Rachael supports the health and wellness of our workforce through her role as ESO and Nurse Manager at Mineral Resources (MRL).

Her career in healthcare has also fuelled an awareness and passion for mental health, and driven a range of fundraising and engagement initiatives across her 10-year stint as an official RUOK? Ambassador.

“I got involved with RUOK? when it was early days for them,” Rachael says.

“The appeal for me was it’s a really simple message. It’s not necessarily about raising money; it’s more about generating awareness and encouraging people to have conversations.”

Today RUOK? is Australia’s leading harm prevention charity encouraging us all to stay connected and drive conversations that can help people in difficult times in their lives.

Its mission is to empower people to make meaningful connections, lend support when others are struggling and develop motivation and confidence in help-givers.

This year, 9 September marks RUOK? Day – a national day of awareness encouraging us to dive a little deeper to better understand how others are feeling in the knowledge our support can make a big difference for those facing issues.

At MRL, we continue to embrace the RUOK? Day message across our sites and locations and empower our people to priorities their own mental health every day in the knowledge that one conversation can change a life.

It’s a focus complemented by our proud partnership with Lifeline WA and various mental health programs and initiatives overseen by our in-house psychologist Chris Harris, together helping our people prioritise their mental wellbeing as but one aspect of their overall health and wellbeing.

Maintaining balance is important

In supporting our MRL workforce to maintain a healthy body and mind, Rachael looks for common ground between elite sports and everyday life and encourages balance when looking after our mental health.

“There are plenty of similarities between sports and general life,” Rachal says.

“We all want to perform but we’re also often scrutinised and put pressure on ourselves to do a great job each day. The key is in understanding that for you to be at your best, you need to feel good, feel calm and relaxed.”

“As a sportsperson, for me going to work means I’m not thinking about hockey 24/7,” she says.

“We train six days a week, but a lack of funding means most of us also have fulltime jobs. So it’s about finding avenues and looking for daily releases that help ensure sure we can perform at our best in all aspects of life.”

“It’s probably the opposite for those outside the sporting arena. Most people don’t want to be thinking about work all the time – so they need opportunities to switch off and often sport can provide that outlet for them as well.”

All about perspective

This year’s Tokyo Olympics placed Australia’s hopes on the shoulders of Rachael and her Hockeyroos teammates, with their quest for gold ultimately falling short after a quarter final loss to India.

Rachael says while the country’s high expectations were in the back of their minds, a focus on togetherness, mental resilience and perspective helped the team deal with the immediate disappointment.

“Within the elite sporting landscape, you want to win everything,” she says.

“My dream and the team’s dream was to win Olympic gold, but we also appreciate it was about so much more than that.”

“Sure, we went Tokyo and were knocked out of the competition but when we returned home that wasn’t what people wanted to talk about.”

“They wanted to talk about how all the people in COVID-19 lockdowns in the eastern states got so much joy from watching the Olympics and learning about the stories behind our athletes.”

She says this was just another example of how simple conversations can help us see the bigger picture, put life into perspective, and let others know you care.

Lifeline WA: 13 11 14