Health & happiness mean something different to all of us. Some people want the strict rules and rigidity of an exercise and nutrition program that gets them 6-pack abs they can show off at the beach or in competition. Others want to simply feel good, have energy to take on their days and be generally healthy and happy. Whatever YOU choose is NOT wrong, but it's definitely important to have a good handle on what you DON'T want within your lifestyle and health goals and your progression to them. In my line of work, I love looking for those life lessons that help remind me how to be a healthy, happy human, and help guide me on the path that I choose for my own health and wellbeing. The summer of 2022 has reminded me of that.
I was asked to take on the volunteer role of Club Head Referee with our local soccer club, and reluctantly got back into officiating after 23yrs. I wasn't looking forward to the officiating part as much as coaching and mentoring young referees to hopefully help them enjoy it and stay in the game longer as a match official. Unfortunately, the role ended up being a second full time job and due to the referee shortages across Canada in our sport, the time where I could be supporting, mentoring and coaching our club's young referees was spent by me needing to be on the field reffing games. Not to mention, the stress of dealing with the adult-driven political b.s. of today's grassroots game is not good for anyone's mental health!
The good news was, it's great exercise. My summer weeks have had me doing 6-8hrs of running throughout the week and typically I manage 1-2 days of strength & mobility work when my energy levels allow. That side of things is great! However, the role as a whole has really reminded me what I DON'T want. This is where I feel we get caught up so much in our health and fitness goals, that we tend to not consider real life.
Here's my view of what this summer and my role have reminded me...
I don't want MORE work. After two decades in my career, I've reached a point where I'm comfortable in my work schedule. I have breaks every day for not only other work (studying, programs etc) but also time for myself, to take care of myself. My volunteer position (although positive in theory) took all of that away, with me having to work on referee/soccer related 'stuff' 4-5 days per week when I wasn't working with my regular clients in my REAL JOB. At 40yrs old, I don't want MORE work (even if it's to do with something I'm passionate about). I want work I enjoy and that feels good rather than work that takes energy from me.
I don't want my volunteer work to be impacting my sleep and energy levels. When my sleep has been impacted at least a handful of times in the past few months due to a volunteer position, and being overworked, that's not ok for me. That definitely does not keep me in the "healthy, happy human mode" for sure.
I cherish MY time. I've learned in the past 4-5 years how valuable my time is, both personally and professionally. Prior to this summer, I had a wonderful routine going throughout the work week that was a nice balance of work, study, self-care (physical and mental) and nature. The constant go-go-go of this summer has taken that away from me completely.
Family, friends and memories are important. Don't get me wrong, my position this summer with the soccer club has allowed me to meet a ton of people (most are wonderful) and see old teammates and opponents that I used to see every soccer season prior to retirement from the game. However, the most important people (my friends and family) I've missed out on due to being TOO BUSY. Even when I'm home, I'm not really "here" ya know? I'm at the point in my life where I truly realize I DON'T WANT THAT. My health and happiness are impacted positively when I'm spending my time with friends, family and making memories through experiences with them.
Taking time to reflect is as important as any routine or program you'll find. We miss the opportunity when it comes to our health and happiness when we don't step back and take time to reflect and be honest with ourselves. This is where we get "stuck". We keep pushing, pushing and pushing... when sometimes what we need to do is slow down, take some time to reflect, and ask yourself; "is what I'm doing making me feel healthy and happy? Or am I just burning myself out mentally and/or physically?"
When you take time to step back and think about what you really want for your health and happiness, ask yourself the following:
Do I feel energized most days? Or am I dreading taking on the day most days?
By the weekend am I feeling like I need an escape? or do I feel great and happy with my week?
Am I able to spend time with the people I care about most, as much as I'd like?
Do I have time most days for ME?
Is what I'm doing consuming my thoughts?
Is what I'm doing impacting my ability to sleep and overall energy in a negative way?
Reflect on what you're doing.
Make the changes you need to make.
Know what you DON'T want so you can be a healthy, happy human.