By Sean Zucker –
Seattle All Pro running back Marshawn Lynch is better known for plowing through tacklers and scoring touchdowns than handing out sage advice on keeping your life balanced. But just recently following a heartbreaking NFL playoff loss to the Packers, Lynch delivered his personal take on what’s required to get and stay mentally and physically healthy in the NFL. He warned pro football newbies during his post-game press conference:
So while y’all at it right now, take care of y’all bodies, you know what I mean; take care of y’all chicken, you feel me; take care of y’all mentals because, look, we ain’t lasting that long. I had a couple players that I played with that they’re no longer here no more — they’re no longer — so, I mean, you feel me? So you start taking care of y’all mentals, y’all bodies, y’all chicken, so when y’all ready to walk away, walk away and you’ll be able to do what you want to do.
The boiled down version of Lynch’s approach to long-term health for football players is for them to focus on taking care of their bodies, mental health and financial resources. After a dozen years in the NFL where he scored almost 100 touchdowns and ran for more than 10,000 yards, he ought to know. However, research indicates that his counsel to take care of your “mentals, bodies and chicken(money)” is pretty sound advice for almost everyone heading into 2020 and beyond.
Lynch isn’t off base on psychological care, as the state of mental health in America is nearing epidemic levels. Last year, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mental Health America released numbers on the topic that are truly staggering. Mental Health America reports over 44 million American adults, over 18% of the country’s population, suffer from mental health issues. The depth of the problem, however, isn’t limited to just the number of people with a condition. It extends to the lack treatment received, as over half of those with mental health issues got no professional care, in part because more 12% lack the insurance cover the cost. The crisis is even more alarming among young people and children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that last year 8.4% of children aged 6 to 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression. Worst of all, suicide was the second leading cause of death among those 10 to 34 years old.
Lynch is also on the mark regarding our bodies as the collective state of America’s physical health is equally alarming. Last year, the CDC released some daunting statistics on the prevalence, or lack thereof, of physical activity. The CDC states less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, while more than 80% do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening actives. Blame it on social media, video games or Netflix, but it does not appear that the next generation will do any better as only one in three children are physically active each day. Instead, CDC claims children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day on average in front of a screen. That’s equivalent to a full night’s sleep, rendering the entire demographic as immobile zombies.
Lynch’s comments on “chicken” were just as insightful. Americans are more financially strained than ever before. A November 2019 Financial Health Network report indicates that despite the boom times, a paltry 29% of people are financially strong, while 17% considering themselves outright financially struggling. There are several possible explanations for this lack of financial security, including the rise of college tuition and overall debt, reckless spending, the lack of a proper savings and failure to adequately plan for retirement. Whatever the cause, a surprising high percentage of people are economically troubled and emotional stressed going into 2020.
So you’re not a professional football player. It is probably still wise to heed Beast Mode’s words and take care of yourself. If not for your own wellbeing, to at least avoid being fined for insufficient personal care.