Mental health matters with Ruqsana Begum

In 2016, Ruqsana Begum became the world’s first female Muslim boxing champion. Here, she talks about the importance of support systems, and the tips she uses to stay focused on her goals

Mental health matters to me because… we can have a more fulfilled and happier life if we know how to seek the right support. Identifying it helps us deal with stressful circumstances more effectively, alongside having your support system in place. I find it so important to recognise that we will all encounter some level of mental health issues throughout our life, and so we all need techniques to address it.

I cultivate a healthy mindset by… first respecting my mind and body, and then by being kind to myself and others through words and actions. The charity work I do is also really important to my mindset, as what I consume and surround myself with is crucial, as it influences my choices on a daily basis. I’m growing constantly and consistently to achieve my higher potential, not living in fear of the outcome. Find out who you are, set goals, work towards them, and take action.

I first knew kickboxing was something I wanted to pursue… when I saw Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on television as a child, and I was fascinated by the sheer skill and discipline of these amazing human beings.

Kickboxing makes me feel… alive. When I’m training, I’m being challenged mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Ruqsana Begum

Instagram | ruqsanabegum_mt: Nature provides us everything we need

When I need support I… try to remember to be my best self each and every day, to live life in the present, and prepare for the future by being present.

When I need some self-care, I… take time out from my day to have long baths, enjoy classical music, talk and engage with others, and appreciate their point of view – even if it’s different to mine.

People I find inspiring online are… Joe Rogan, the American mixed martial arts commentator – I find his podcast really insightful. I also really enjoy listening to Dr Joe Dispenza, especially his ‘The Power of Your Thoughts’ talks.

Three things I would say to someone struggling are… take a deep breath, turn this situation into an opportunity – there is always a silver lining – and don’t judge the situation, embrace it.

The moment I felt most proud of myself was… when I finally accepted who I am. We all have gifts to share with the world, whether that’s being a good communicator or showing tenacity. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you pick yourself up that counts.

‘Born Fighter’ by Ruqsana Begum, is out now (£12.99, Simon & Schuster).