Hello! Welcome to my work.
My name is Emily Perrin and I am a Mental Health Therapist and Mindfulness and Performance Coach. I am so thankful you are here and I’m excited to share my journey with you in detail. Although my path to this work has not been linear much of it has been shaped by my own lived experience.
The truth is I grew up in and around sport. My Dad was a college basketball coach at the University of Virginia for the first 10 years of my life where he also received his Ph.D. in Sport Psychology. Some of my earliest childhood memories are running around University Hall (which sadly no longer exists) at UVA and going to team practices. Even after leaving college basketball he has continued to work with some of the best athletes in the United States. His career has taken him across multiple professional leagues including the NBA, MLS, NWSL and to two World Cups with the US Men’s National Team. From a very young age this was my life. I...
If you have not tuned in to my 3 Part Blog series on the connection between Mental health and Recovery please do so! Why Failing to Prioritize Recovery is Impacting Your Mental Health is a detailed look at how recovery and the mental health of an athlete are intimately linked. This will also help you understand the type of nervous system shift we are looking for and explain what the Parasympathetic (Ventral Vagal) Nervous System State is (Referred to as PNS in this Blog).
If you have not downloaded my Free EBOOK: The Athletes Holistic Guide to Recovery, this can be a great place to start!
I am a full advocate of explaining the “why” behind things before giving an athlete or coach solutions or answers. I find that the “WHY” is often what empowers an athlete to step into taking care of themselves more efficiently.
The recovery process will be unique and individual for every single athlete. When working with an athlete or a team I...
If you haven't tuned in to Part One and Part Two of this Series I recommend starting there.
Part One: The role of the Nervous System in both Mental Health and recovery
Part Two: The link between Recovery and Mental Health
But the impact of failing to prioritize recovery will also be a foundational piece of how an athlete performs.
Impact on Performance
For those of you who have gotten this far, THANK YOU. But alas, we have one more element to also consider.
Although I believe that there is NOTHING more important than the overall well being of an athlete, I also know that sport is competitive. Although we are moving in the right direction with mental health in sport there are still MANY athletes and coaches who prioritize performance and winning over overall health.
Performance is a critical piece to sport. But mental health is the foundation for performance.
Many athletes come to sport with goals and...
If you are just tuning in make sure to go back and read Part One. This will give you look at how the Nervous System is going to be central to both Recovery and Mental health. Now let's look at the link why we cannot talk about Athlete Mental Health without thinking about Recovery.
Recovery and Mental Health
Now lets see WHY an athlete needs to be prioritizing and making MORE of an effort to make this intentional down SHIFT in their nervous system after recovery. This is where we begin to link Recovery and Mental Health.
Have you ever looked at a typical college athlete’s life?
If not, let me paint a picture for you:
As a Mental Health therapist and Mindfulness and Performance coach I have worked with countless elite high school, college and professional athletes. More often than not the athletes and coaches I work with are driven, competitive and meticulous about their training both on and off the field. Yet, these same athletes and coaches fail to be as meticulous and prioritize recovery in the same way.
Athlete recovery is directly linked to mental heath and well being. We are moving in a time where mental health across many environments, including sport is gaining the attention it deserves yet athlete recovery is an absolutely CRITICAL piece to the athlete mental heath equation. This 3 part blog series aims to clarify the connection between the two.
Elite performance requires elite recovery. Hopefully through this series you will see why.
The Nervous System and Mental Health
The Nervous System is the foundation of our health and well being....
When we experience rejection and failure it is NATURAL to think about it. We are going to want to process it and as you have seen from my other principles I am a big fan of this. We need to process and we need to think. But what many of us experience post rejection and failure is actually rumination and THIS can be tough.
What is rumination? Rumination is when our thinking becomes a bit more obsessive, persistent and repetitive. Generally rumination has a negative tone and it creates anxiety for us. For me, it evokes physiological symptoms like an increase in my heart rate and feeling on edge. Rumination can be exhausting. But what differentiates rumination from processing is that it’s not really processing. You’re getting stuck. I love this description from Elizabeth Scott PhD (2020) “What distinguishes rumination from productive emotional processing or searching for solutions is that rumination doesn’t generate new ways of thinking, new...
“If we don’t express our emotions, they pile up like a debt that will eventually come due.”
-Marc Brackett, PHD
Feel all the Feels.
We get clear on WHAT we’re feeling and we accept what we’re feeling but we have to actually do the feeling.
Unfortunately this is where more often than not we have to sit with our emotions and discomfort and allow time to heal. So. Freaking. Hard. But I promise this is THE only way.
Being Well with Dr. Rick Hanson and Forrest Hanson is an incredible podcast that I highly recommend. In a recent episode on navigating failure they described how the sooner we attend to our feelings when we face failure and rejection the better. Why? Because this is what both the mind and the body need. In order to move through and “regulate” our emotions in an efficient way we have to honor them and give ourselves permission to feel however we are feeling. Easier said than done.
“The attempt to escape from pain, is what creates more pain.”
Accept vs Resist.
Let’s start with Resistance to our experience.
As Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer explain in their book The Mindful Self Compassion Workbook (2018) “what we resist, persists.”
What does it mean to resist our experience? We run from our emotions. We don’t like our experience. We deny our experience. We avoid, numb and block out what we actually feel. For me, resistance can look like trying to “rationally” or “logically” explain my way out of a feeling. Oftentimes I find myself adding more things than I can count to my schedule and running on “go go go” mode so that I don’t have TIME to stop and feel. I find myself avoiding being alone because when I am alone that means I actually have to be with myself and my feelings. I get irritated, I’m on edge and I find myself...
By definition, resilient means:
In sport specifically we take this to mean being tough, having grit and being persistent. All good things in order to play competitive sport. These are almost precursors for being able to make it at the elite level. However what I think has happened is that athletes often try to embody this same toughness, grit and strength off the field when navigating all that life throws at them. These qualities along with constantly finding a positive attitude or finding the good in every situation (even when tragedy strikes) is what makes us resilient. This is what gets us through tough stuff, right?
Being resilient is less about being tough and more about...
As I finished yet another year of school this year and look towards my graduation in November of 2022, I thought it would be a good idea to write a piece about Clinical Social Work.
Several questions and comments I get when I tell people that I am getting a Masters in Clinical Social Work are:
“What is that?”
“How does Social Work have anything to do with sport and athletes?”
“So you’re going to take kids away?”
“Why didn’t you just do Sport Psychology?”
These are fair statements and mostly come from a place of simply not knowing. Clinical Social Work is a relatively new field compared to Psychology or even Counseling. There is a large misconception that Social Work is about taking children away from their families and helping the poor while making absolutely no money.
This is far from the full truth. I believe that society and more specifically the news play a large role in why...