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Kate talks resilience, wellbeing and learnings

Kate Doughty with son Henrik

Resilience, Wellbeing and Learnings –  Kate Doughty

Jacqueline Banki

‘It’s not about what could have been, it’s about what has been, and it’s been nothing short of amazing.’

With these words of reflection, Kate Doughty announced her retirement from elite sport this week, while sharing her own experience of resilience in a year that has been a challenge for us all.

After 12 years serving as Patron of Aussie Hands, Kate Doughty stepped down from the role in 2019 to focus on her campaign for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and her family. But due to COVID-19 plans for the year took a different direction.

Personally, and professionally, Kate demonstrates resilience, and 2020 has seen her reassess priorities for her own wellbeing.

Although not able to take part in her BIG sporting goal of racing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Kate has still achieved success. ‘I did have one international race for the season before COVID-19 lockdown back in February.  In fact, it was a big achievement for me, as I had the best race of my career to date. This was while I was working hard to overcome several physical and mental hurdles regarding racing.  I exceeded my own expectations, which was definitely a career highlight,’ said Kate.

She has worked on finding balance outside of sport and found that the upside of lockdown was more time to spend with her son, Henrik.

‘Getting too caught up in the ‘what ifs’, and the ‘if onlys’ and trying to predict how the next 12 months may play out in sport was not serving me well. Given the delay of the Paralympics, our training changed and we went back to more aerobic endurance sessions, and for me,  finding balance between training and caring for Henrik was key.’

‘I love to exercise and just focused on the positives, and the health benefits both physically and mentally when I train, which has helped me to manage the longevity of COVID-19 and the changes to 2020,’ she said.

The key to Kate’s holistic approach to wellbeing is recognising that physical and mental health go hand in hand.

‘Physically, it’s not about how hard or fast to train or how heavy I can lift, it is about recognising the importance of moving to stay energised and healthy, especially while under the stress of COVID-19 and lock down.’

On mental health she suggested that we need to learn how to disengage from our negative thoughts or worries, especially those that don’t serve us well, and learn to acknowledge them but then let them go.

‘For me, mindfulness plays a huge part in being able to disengage from negative thoughts, both as an athlete, mother and for general wellbeing. It gives me the chance to recharge mentally, which makes me feel better physically, and able to go about my day without worry or stressing about what I cannot control. ‘

‘It teaches me how to be present, and more often than not, that’s the key to get through some of the biggest challenges,’ she added.

Looking back at the year so far, Kate has learnt more about herself and found new direction.

I have learnt to become better at letting go of the worries of uncertainty of my career and sport, and to take on some learnings about the upside of it all,’ said Kate.

Her current and future focus is spending more time with family, navigating her career outside of sport, and most importantly remembering that happiness comes from within.

Apart from navigating motherhood itself, Kate has not experienced challenges of being a mother with a hand difference. ‘Henrik loves holding both my hands. He sees no difference, and that makes everything ok,’ she said lovingly.

Kate offered some key learning for members of Aussie Hands and the wider community:

  • Stepping outside your comfort zone can be one of the best moves you will make
  • Never be afraid to ask for help, ever
  • Extreme circumstances can make you stronger… they are opportunities to think and learn
  • Try to discover who you are and what interests you…not what others think you should do, be or say
  • You are not your thoughts, don’t invite your negative self-critic into your day. Acknowledge it, and send it on their way
  • Be proud of what you have achieved, not what you haven’t
  • And most importantly, you are so much more important and valuable than what you look like. You are loved.

 Wishing everyone well, Kate concluded with ‘Stay Strong Aussie Hands!’

Thanks to Kate for sharing her story of motivation, wellbeing and learnings.   Help Aussie Hands continue to people like Kate by making a donation.