As a glittering Alex Scott appears on the cover of this week’s Stylist, she reflects on her game-changing professional year and how she’s learned to protect her mental health in the face of adversity.
Think of the biggest sporting moments of the year, from Euro 2020 to Tokyo 2020 and everything in between, and there is one person that has been pitchside at all of them: broadcaster Alex Scott. The former England and Arsenal footballer has had the type of year that makes you feel tired just contemplating what she has achieved.
Her 2021 has included presenting at those landmark games; making history by taking over hosting Football Focus on BBC One, the first female presenter in its 47-year history; recording an episode of genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are?; and most recently fronting a brand-new game show, The Tournament, arriving on the BBC next week.
And today a shimmering and sparkling Alex Scott appears on the cover of Stylist magazine, which you can buy here, to celebrate her golden year – although modest to a fault, she would never call it that.
But while her world has been moving at a hundred miles an hour, Scott – who has spoken previously about learning to manage her depression and anxiety, something she confronted after opening up about the hideous social media trolling she endured after moving into broadcasting – is taking solid steps to create boundaries that will protect her wellbeing.
“Just last week I listened to a really great Ted Talk podcast about meetings and owning your time. I’m a bit of a people pleaser and I often say yes to everyone and try to be at everyone’s meeting when, actually, it’s about prioritising what I need to do for my own health as well. Everyone thinks that their meeting is the most important, but I’m spinning 10 different plates. So, it’s about prioritising and trying to reschedule.”
Although Scott is quick to say that while such tactics are great in theory, it also takes work to effect that change: “It’s a struggle, but it’s about hearing that and resetting,” she muses.
While Scott has been powerfully open about her own mental health journey and calls therapy “the best thing ever”, she says one of the most important things we should all consider is that we have to listen to everyone’s story; there’s not just one experience of mental health.
“I think the stigma around talking about your mental health is starting to change. But I can only tell you what my experience is, and every person’s experience will be different,” she says. “So when we talk about mental health, or boxing everyone into the same place, the conversation needs to be different. You won’t know what I’ve experienced in those moments, but it’s about opening it up for everyone.”
And for Scott, just like many of us who are dealing with burnout and searching for deeper fulfilment after the 18 months we’ve all endured, finding meaning in life goes back to the simple things. “I’ve been trying to find the balance. And I find meaning by making sure I take the time to switch off, go for a walk, listen to a podcast or do something with family or friends. It’s about having fun away from everything else.”
To read Alex’s interview, where she talks about what drives her, how she has navigated social media trolls and the transformative power of therapy, download this week’s issue of Stylist here.
Images: Chantel King, Getty