Beginning his professional swimming career relatively late at the age of 18, Matt represented Australia at the highest level of international competitive swimming for 10 years. The father of three has over 30 Olympic, World and Commonwealth medals to his name.
What do you think of when you hear the word stress?
Stress definitely has negative connotations, but I don’t think it’s stress itself that harms, rather the negative effects of not managing it well.
How do you cope with everyday stress?
I don’t stress a lot, but when I do, I find it helpful to have priorities and perspective on things. It’s very easy to get bogged down on details. Instead I try to appreciate the smaller things in life.
What defines a healthy lifestyle?
A healthy lifestyle to me is about decision making. It’s about having a purpose and a reason to actually look after yourself and deciding to do the right thing now, rather than trying to fix it later.
What signs show you that you’re stressed?
I tend to lose clarity in the way I’m thinking. I can also get a bit grumpy, and perhaps get a bit short with those around me because I do start focusing solely on the cause of stress and not everything else that’s really important. We often do make poor decisions when we’re under stress.
What steps do you take to overcome this state of mind?
If I’m stressed, when I do have the chance to stop and think about what I’m doing I ask myself ‘Why didn’t I do that differently?’ You really don’t have the same level of mental sharpness as you would if you were in a better state of mind.
Do you find fatherhood stressful?
To be honest, I do at times. I love my kids and spend as much time as I possibly can with them. For all the enjoyment that they give me, they do require a lot of my time, attention and focus. Although fatherhood can be stressful, I see parental stress as an important part of life which can actually make you do a better job.
What’s your number one stress busting tip for Dad’s?
Talking about your stress definitely minimises that ‘stressing about stress’ cycle. The release of getting someone else’s opinion and sharing your thoughts with someone else is really important, whether that’s your wife, or your friends.
According to research, men find it harder to talk about stress, do you agree?
I think it’s a pride thing, and while it’s great to be proud, I think that men who don’t want to talk about their stress need to embrace the fact it’s a good thing to reach out, get help and talk about whatever is on their minds.
When you’re feeling stressed, who’s the first person you talk to?
My wife is usually the first person to tell me that I’m stressed, as it’s usually those around you who detect your stress before you do. Rather than just keeping everything on board to myself, I like to get as much advice and guidance as I can.