Former NRL star turned personal fitness guru and one of Men’s Style 2017 Men Of Influence Dan Conn offers some sage advice for those about to move…
Health means a lot more to Dan Conn than what goes on in the gym and in the kitchen. It’s about what goes on between the ears, too.
The former NRL star and Collective Wellness Group ambassador has always been a fitness guru, sculpting a body that looks like it’s been carved out of granite — but suffering from depression, Conn’s mental health requires just as much effort, and these are his top five tips for all-round wellbeing.
Be active every day
“This is probably one of the most obvious tips in the book, but I’m not saying it with the intention of helping you get a six-pack for summer (although it will help!) — I’m saying it because it’s so important for mental clarity,” Conn says. “On the days that I don’t exercise, I find that my depression and anxiety are higher and that’s why I make it a priority. I’m not saying that you have to go hard everyday, even a brisk walk will do.
“Exercise can help to boost mood, concentration and it boosts endorphins which are known to make you happier according to research . . . Exercise also helps you sleep better, improve your sense of control and often your self esteem. It can also provide a good distraction from negative thoughts.”
“I can see that diet and nutrition is something that can be a source of anxiety for many people,” Conn says. “Make sure you eat a good, well balanced diet that’s rich in leafy greens, bright coloured fruit and vegetables that are full of antioxidants and protein.
“There’s so much information out there that it can be hard to know which advice to take, so I suggest working out what works for you and do that. Don’t feel pressured into following paleo, keto, or any other diet . . . don’t feel obligated to ‘follow the rules’. You are your own person.”
Focus on recovery
“You’re not going to be able to perform properly if you don’t spend some time recovering, furthermore, a lack of recovery time can lead to injury!” Conn says. “Take at least one day per week to pull back from intense exercise. Have a rest day, go for a walk or a swim.
“And wear compression garments — I personally love by Body Science compression tights. I wear them on recovery days and if I’m really sore sometimes I even wear them to bed.”
Talk about your mental health
“I try to have a good chat with someone everyday,” Conn reveals. “With the rise of the digital world, it can be so easy to get sucked into work with emails coming to your phone or living your life through social media, but I find that my medicine is speaking to other people about their mental health issues.
“A big thing with depression is isolation, but actually speaking up can help you feel better about it. I’ve been sharing my story over the past few months now and I really do enjoy speaking to others to see what I can do to make them feel better, too.”
Don’t be afraid to reach out
“We all have down days and it can be difficult to reach out and not tell anyone we’re hurting,” Conn confides. “But it’s these days that I’m so proud to see people realise that the greatest strength we have is the strength to ask for help.”