Hannah Wells' top five tips on how to deal with setbacks

Written by : Hannah Wells with Subaru


Every day we are constantly working towards exciting challenges and achieving goals, but what happens when you have a setback that feels like someone has pulled the handbrake?

Setbacks happen in all walks of life not just in the sporting arena, and the following tips can apply in the corporate world and in life in general.

Middle Distance triathlete, PhD of Biotech engineering and Subaru wellness ambassador Hannah Wells shares some of her thoughts on how she deals with setbacks in sport.

Subaru Ambassador Hannah Wells and her Subaru XV

1. Health first, training second.

Now you’ve probably all heard this before, but I am going to say it again anyway; if your general health is not in check there’s no way you’re going to be able to perform at your best, whether that be in a training session or life in general. We often get by feeling ‘good enough’, but are we jeopardising our performance by pushing through? There is a limit, and finding a way to check in with yourself to ensure you are able to be your best day in and day out is vital as an athlete. I ask myself daily; how are my energy levels? Is my body particularly sore today? How’s my mood?

If need be, I get to bed extra early, take a training session easy or even have the day off if things get really bad. Long term health and consistency are key to performance.

Hannah Wells taking time to relax in Raglan, health first and training second

2. Keeping your mental wellbeing in check

Setbacks are mentally and emotionally challenging, we all know that. Problems can really arise if we are so invested in one area of our lives that we become reliant on it. Being passionate about our goals and working hard is key to success, but don’t let your job or sport consume you to the point where other aspects suffer completely and balance is lost. Try to keep some diversity in your life with hobbies and interests, as that will keep things in perspective for when you hit a road block or challenge along the way.

3. Reach out to your loved ones

When I was younger my Mother always said to me “a problem shared is a problem halved” and I believe this is so true. Everyone goes through times where they are dealing with challenges, so the first thing we should be doing is confiding in each other when we hit one of those times. Your closest loved ones will care no matter how trivial the matter is and they can probably help, or at least provide a distraction for a while. Don’t be afraid to admit it if you’re having a bad week, talk to someone about it.

Hannah Wells takes time out with loved ones to help her manage her workload

4. Find other means of an outlet

If you get an injury or sickness that prevents you from being able to do what you love or thrive off – whether that is sport, work or hobby, it might be worth finding something new to distract yourself for a while. It could be as simple as filling up your weekends with coffee with friends or take on a new project in the garden at home. It will help you stay in a positive mindset till things are back on track; after all, emotional stress will only prolong recovery or make life harder, and will never help the setback to go away.

5. Use it as an opportunity

It’s easy to dwell on challenges or setbacks and think of the time you’re losing while being injured or unable to do what you normally do. But turning what seems like a negative setback into an opportunity is a really great way to help refocus your mindset. As a triathlete, a good example of turning a bad situation into a good one is when we get a running injury. While not being able to run is obviously a setback in our sport, it provides the opportunity to focus on the other two disciplines for a while; to become stronger in those. Athletes will make big gains in their swimming while injured from running and find that when the injury has gone, they are in fact a better all-round athlete because of it. Look for opportunities like this in your challenge or setback.

Hannah Wells uses set backs as an opportunity to get better at other things. Jemma Wells Photography


And of course, we all know we learn from our mistakes. Try to look at it as an opportunity to learn and teach others so the same mistake or setback isn’t made again.


Tauranga-based athlete Hannah Wells has been sponsored by Subaru since 2019 and drives either our Impreza or XV model as her daily vehicle. Hannah races as a professional triathlete while working as a research fellow for Massey University and loves using her Subaru get around the country for both her job and to access her favourite training grounds, such as Mount Maunganui and the Redwoods forest in Rotorua.

Read more about Hannah here, and find out more about the new Subaru XV here.


Hannah Wells is a professional triathlete and Subaru brand ambassador. PC Jemma Wells Photography


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