Tag: Ted Talk

In Guy Winch’s TED Talk, “Why we all need to practice emotional first aid,” he proposes the idea that emotional care needs to be as commonplace as physical care. He gives an example of how natural it is for a five-year-old with a cut to put a Band-Aid on it; however, when people are feeling lonely or sad, they are told to brush it off–it is rare that people prioritize their emotional health in any way similar to that of their physical health.

Often, we are taught to be “tough” and to not let our emotions get the best of us; there’s a stigma surrounding emotional reactions, a stigma that is not synonymous with toughness. However, neglecting our mental health comes with a series of difficulties. As Winch shares his story of experiencing loneliness while being apart from his family and friends, he rattles off a few physical complications from his emotional struggle: “Loneliness won’t just make you miserable, it will kill you. I’m not kidding. Chronic loneliness increases your likelihood of an early death by 14 percent.Loneliness causes high blood pressure, high cholesterol. It even suppress the functioning of your immune system, making you vulnerable to all kinds of illnesses and diseases. In fact, scientists have concluded that taken together, chronic loneliness poses as significant a risk for your long-term health and longevity as cigarette smoking.” As he later states, one key difference (of many) between the effects of chronic loneliness and cigarette smoking is the recognition of the problem. One can easily say whether they smoke cigarettes: it is a yes or no answer. On the other hand, we may not be able to describe our loneliness, let alone recognize that this loneliness has taken a substantial toll on our lives.

We are constantly juggling numerous emotions, and some of these emotions will be heightened while playing a sport. Therefore, it is crucial that throughout our games and practices we regularly take a few minutes to do a quick self-check and see both where we are physically and where our emotions are. In-between games, for example: Did you go 0-4 at the plate yesterday and are now itching to get a hit? As you’re warming up, is your grip on the bat a little looser because your hands are sweating. Is your heart beating faster than normal before a game? It’s here that we combine our knowledge of the physical self with that of the emotional self. Recognize that those physical signs might stem from anxiety to get that hit. One way to combat anxious feelings is to utilize a few relaxation techniques. Maybe it’s deep breathing that helps calm you down or possibly picturing yourself in a tranquil place returns your heart rate to its resting pace–it could be a combination of the two. No matter your sport, make sure to consistently take time to assess how you are feeling in order to better understand where to focus your energy. Through working on recognizing what you are feeling and practicing what works to transform your stressful emotions into positive and productive feelings, you will be much better equipped to perform at your optimal level.


Matthew Williams is a champion. He trains five days a week to excel in both basketball and speed skating and has gone on to represent Canada in international competition. In his inspiring TED Talk, Williams discusses how society has become more accepting of athletes with intellectual disabilities—however, we still have a ways to go. “The world does not see all people like me as champions,” Williams says, “Not long ago, people like me were shunned and hidden away. There has been lots of change since Special Olympics began in 1968, but in too many cases, people with intellectual disabilities are invisible to the wider population.”

Unfortunately, too many athletes have not been given the opportunity to perfect and showcase their talents. The Special Olympics has taken great steps to help all athletes reach their fullest potential by not only supporting athletes in competition, but also supporting their health: “Special Olympics also addresses critical health needs. Studies have shown that, on average, men with intellectual disabilities die 13 years younger than men without, and women with intellectual disabilities die 20 years younger than women without. Special Olympics keeps us healthy by getting us active and participating in sport. Also, our coaches teach us about nutrition and health. Special Olympics also provides free health screening for athletes who have difficulty communicating with their doctor or accessing health care.”

Playing sports have a variety of benefits such as building teamwork and leadership skills in a safe and fun environment—an environment all athletes should have the opportunity to be a part of. The Special Olympics is just one organization that is doing incredible work—work that Williams has the utmost respect for: “Special Olympics is changing the world by transforming four and a half million athletes and giving us a place to be confident, meet friends, not be judged and get to feel like and be champions.”

For more information on the Special Olympics, visit their website.

Watch the full talk below:

Phil Hansen was going to school to become an artist when he discovered something that he thought would end his career before it even began. He had developed a shake in his hand from using pointillism—a painting technique in which small dots are applied in patterns to form a single image. Because he could no longer create art through his preferred method, he decided to drop art school and art altogether. However, years later he decided to return to art and saw a doctor about his condition. The doctor changed his life with a single question: “Why don’t you just embrace the shake?”

Hansen’s TED talk describes his inspiring journey to find his new calling through art: “And I realized, if I ever wanted my creativity back, I had to quit trying so hard to think outside of the box and get back into it.” Athletes can mirror this idea by spending time going back to the beginning and thinking about what aspects of their sport made them fall in love with it in the first place. More importantly, this talk—and what we can all take from it—is about remembering what makes us unique and what strengths we have.

As his talk comes to a close, Hansen professes: “Limitations may be the most unlikely of places to harness creativity, but perhaps one of the best ways to get ourselves out of ruts, rethink categories, and challenge accepted norms. And instead of telling each other to seize the day, maybe we can remind ourselves every day to seize the limitation.”

Everyone has a “shake” or weakness, and although this insecurity may seem like a flaw it is simply something that makes you unique. However, because “shakes” are unique to each individual, it may seem as though you are the only one with that particular “shake.” Sometimes, that results in athletes defying their shakes in the attempt to be “normal.” This perspective is understandable considering technicalities in sports require athletes to follow certain rules and regulations. As a result, it is hard for them to both accept and figure out an alternate path to take toward the designated goal. Although taking another route for the sport or skill they are working toward will be an adjustment, it will make them a stronger athlete with stronger weaknesses.

Athletes have the ability to embrace whatever “shakes” they have just like Phil Hansen. Rather than letting the shake define them, athletes can define it for themselves and use it as a performance enhancement they never knew they had. In other words they can seize the limitation in their shake. Believe in what makes you different; never give up on something just because it is not viewed as typical. Most importantly, embrace your shake.

See Hansen’s inspiring talk here.