World Mental Health Day: Joe Wicks podcast guests on how they keep a healthy mind

Collage of Joe Wicks, Mark Cavendish, Fearne Cotton and James Bay

The coronavirus pandemic has been a challenging time for us all.

But one man who has helped a lot of us stay positive is Joe Wicks.

In his podcast series on BBC Sounds, Joe speaks to some of the people who inspire him, to find out what they do to maintain a healthy mind, as well as a healthy body.

On World Mental Health Day, here are some key takeaways.

‘Just have someone to talk to’ – Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish and Team Dimension Data

Cavendish is one of cycling’s greatest ever sprinters – but how does he relax when he’s not in the saddle?

“It sounds so boring, but I’m obsessed with Lego,” he tells Joe.

“There’s a certain part of your brain that gets used for that kind of stuff – I think it’s like the part of your brain that gets used in meditation.”

He has also taken up drawing, and gets a similar sense of calm from that.

But Cavendish, who was diagnosed with depression a couple of years ago, is in no doubt about the most important thing for his wellbeing.

“Having someone around who you trust,” he says. “Just to have someone to talk to about anything – it doesn’t have to be about your depression.”

‘It’s about fresh air’ – Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay on a road bike

Chef Ramsay is not synonymous with words such as ‘calm’ and ‘serene’ – indeed ‘angry’ is a more common descriptor.

Nevertheless, he needs to find time to stop swearing in kitchens – and cycling is one way he gets to that happy place.

“For me, it’s an amazing release and it’s just quite therapeutic being out in the countryside,” he says.

“It’s not about massive, long rides. It’s about fresh air. It’s about seeing roads from a cycle point of view, as opposed to flying or driving over it.”

‘An hour’s breathing session once a week’ – Fearne Cotton

Fearne Cotton speaks on microphone

In Cotton’s podcast Happy Place, she draws on her experiences of depression and the techniques she uses to help navigate that – including fitness and yoga.

She tells Joe her biggest mood-lifter is music.

“For me, it’s instant,” she says. “It’s a full-body experience. We need to be in our bodies more.”

Cotton says one of her favourite things to do when she’s feeling down is to listen to some sad music and have a good cry.

She also does lots of meditation, and a technique she learned from breathing coach Rebecca Dennis.

“I do an hour breathing session once a week,” she says. “It clears my head of all thought. It gets me back to that place, that we all have the propensity to get to, of just peace and being.”

‘Football – in the best possible way, it’s meaningless’ – James Bay

James Bay performs onstage

Bay tries to make sure he plays football at least once a week when he’s at home, and as often as he can when he’s on tour.

“In the best possible way, it’s meaningless,” he says.

“I want it to be a slightly empty activity where I can just enjoy it and I don’t have to think about how any of it applies to any other important aspects of my life.”

Anyone who saw his assist for Yung Filly at this year’s Soccer Aid will know he’s got a decent right foot and good vision too.

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