Retired AFL player Barry Hall, has never been far from the spotlight both on and off the field but lately it's been all about the training as he laces up the boxing gloves and prepares for a challenge like no other. A boxing event hosted by Green Boxing will see the codes of NRL and AFL come together in the boxing ring as Barry Hall verses NRL's Paul Gallen in the highly anticipated 'Code War' boxing match.
Barry recently took a bit of time out his rigorous training regime to talk about the lead up to the event and also his connection to spreading mental health awareness.
You are best known for your incredible achievements on the AFL field, what made you decide to participate in the upcoming ‘Code War’ boxing match against the NRL’s Paul Gallen?
The challenge of it! It’s a big challenge for me and quite simply, I’m able!
I think if you are able to do something, you should do it - as much as you can, while you are enjoying it. Cause once you can't do it….well, you can’t do it!
How did you hear about LIVIN and what made you connect with them as a charity to represent in the lead up to the boxing event?
I think awareness around mental health is becoming a lot more prevalent now due to that fact that people are talking more about it and I am a huge advocate of that. While training out here on the Gold Coast, we thought we would suss out some local based charities that help with Mental Health awareness.
LIVIN seemed to be one of the better known mental health charity's here on the Gold Coast and are doing some amazing work in schools and the community, so we thought we’d reach out to them. After meeting the team and having the same vision about educating people about the importance of keeping mentally ‘fit’, we teamed up.
What mental and physical preparations have you undertaken in the lead up to the fight?
Routine is really big mentally and physically. You need a really good solid routine and then have a goal, which for me is obviously to win the fight.
They are really important things to have for mental and physical fitness, a routine, a goal and also purpose. That’s probably been the couple of main things for me.
You’ve obviously received a lot of support from your family and friends for the boxing fight but how important do you feel having support in general is, when it comes to your mental health and dealing with intense situations?
Reaching out for support is always a challenge for people – which is why what LIVIN is doing is so important - breaking the ‘stigma’ around mental health. Being me and where I’ve come from, people see me as a big burley bloke who wouldn’t experience a ‘weak’ moment in mental health, but we all do at times.
So, yes I do have good support base around me but it’s good just to have people ask you how you are sometimes, not just physically, but mentally. It still doesn’t happen enough.
Do you find there is a strong link between mental health and physical health? As in, do you feel better mentally when you are training and alternatively feel you perform better physically when you are in a good mental state-of-mind?
In any form of sport, you need to have a clear mind and you will perform better when that’s the case.
When you are personally feeling stressed or overwhelmed, what are some strategies and tools that you use that helps you get through those tough times?
I go for a walk and just get some fresh air, to the beach or wherever it may be and just try think through the situation and why I’m feeling that way. Then I just try work through a strategy or plan to get out of feeling that way, obviously communication with my support network is the second part.
But I do just try and stop allowing myself to feel any worse than I need to by thinking through solutions to my problems, practising gratitude and changing my mindset to find the positive.
What advice would you give someone who is struggling with their own mental health?
First thing is communication, there is help out there and there are people who will listen ‘It Ain't Weak to Speak’ – that slogan is absolutely perfect. Men do think it’s weak to speak in particular, and it’s not. We all have issues and it’s just about how we deal with them.
I would also say, no matter what we are feeling, once we get it out, when we talk about it – we feel so much better, although nothing has even changed. Its just good to get stuff off your chest and start the conversation to getting mentally healthy.
There is always someone else out there who is in a worse situation than you and you could actually help them which in turn, would make you feel better.
Barry Hall with LIVIN Co-Founder Casey Lyons at LIVIN HQ.
Check out the limited edition LIVIN #Halligans tee in support of Barry's commitment to breaking the stigma surrounding mental health. For more details on the upcoming Code War boxing event, check out Barry Hall's Instagram page.