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After the long awaited trials, Alice Dearing secured her much deserved spot to compete in Tokyo Olympics 2020. Ahead of her most important swim yet, Alice tells us how she prioritises balance to stay on top of her game.
People often ask me how I balance everything that's going on in my life.
Between my daily training as a competitive swimmer, the weekend races and competitions – and my ongoing studies as I complete an MA – it can be hard to feel like there's enough time in the day to relax and rest.
But while juggling all of these things can be difficult (and occasionally stressful!), I always make sure I find ways to give myself enough time to relax, socialise, and give my mind a rest from the pressure it's often under.
I've talked about balance before in my posts on diet and sleep, and it seems like it's becoming a bit of a theme. But there's a good reason for that:
Living your best lifestyle is always about finding the right balance – finding what works for you, and managing a lifestyle that leaves you both productive and happy.
So what does that mean for a swimmer like me?
Sports are a great way to connect with people: being part of a team, teaching and learning from each other, and working together to hit your targets and achieve your goals.
But when it comes to your life outside of the pool, the world of competitive swimming is often seen as anti-social and reclusive.
You have early morning training sessions that keep you from staying up late. You've got long weekends dedicated to competitions and racing events – so when your friends and family are away from their work, you're still pushing on with your own.
It's a problem that lots of swimmers struggle with, especially during their teenage years. It's a time when academic pressures are growing, and the world seems to be beckoning for your involvement in things that aren't swimming.
For me, that was the age where I started to respect the importance of socialising and downtime – for both the physical and mental benefits they bring.
People need people. That's something I learned in my teenage years – and it's something that's been reasserted to me during the current pandemic.
If you want your body and your mind to perform at their best, you need to have the right mindset: you need to be able to remove the barriers that are stopping you from reaching your full potential.
For some people (including myself), socialising is one of the best ways to bring this positive aspect into your life. So no matter how busy I am with training, competitions, or studies, I'll always make time for my friends and family, and for meeting new people.
Sadly, that's not an easy thing to do in the current climate of lockdowns and restrictions. But with so much isolation and separation from those restrictions, it's more important than ever to support each other. So if you want to keep up a balanced lifestyle, make sure you're reaching out to the people around you to see how they're getting on.
For me and my day-to-day-living, downtime is an absolute must.
That's a fact I'm happily open about, and I never try to preach or pretend that I'm constantly working around the clock on every aspect of my life.
I'm a huge believer in giving your mind and body the downtime it deserves – whether that's playing a video game, or watching TV shows or a film.
So if you're ever feeling guilty for taking breaks and resting after being productive, don't be! We're all human, and we all need downtime just as much as we need to feel productive and focused.
Routines are great – but balance is everything
I'm always finding new ways to relax, and I've never set a routine that plans out my downtime – even though I know some athletes have specific routines that work for them!
Lifestyles are based on the individual. We all operate differently, and there's no one-size-fits-all method to finding the right balance.
So if you're looking for ways to get the right mix of work and play, experiment and be flexible: try different working hours, try different ways of relaxing, and look for the ways that can help you become most productive without neglecting yourself.
Productivity is important. But if you want to stay happy and keep performing well, you need a balance in your lifestyle – and you need to be ready to put your self-care first.
Watch Alice Dearing compete in the Women’s Marathon Swim at Tokyo Olympics 2020, BST: 03/08 22:30.
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