A few weeks ago I was working on site with an organisation, delivering some bespoke mental health training sessions for a few colleagues. It was a great session and I feel that all the people in attendance took so much from the training. My favourite part about working with different organisations and teams, is that no two sessions are the same. Those of you who know me, will know I enjoy a good chat and often this leads to some brilliant group debates and conversations. I like to let some of the conversations go down avenues which are most relevant and important to the people in the room. The training is for them, not me.
I don't always take my own advice...
During this training session, whilst discussing stress management and the importance of proactively doing the things that are so important to maintaining our own mental health, I realised I don't always take my own advice on this! When working with teams and individuals, I always stress the importance of carving out even a small amount of time each day/week that is just for you, and do something that you enjoy and that is good for your mental wellbeing. We are all different, so this ranges from team sports, to solo exercise, listening to podcasts, meditating and so much more. If you find something that works for you, treat it like gold dust! We often put everyone else first - work, family, friends...and when we are light on time, what do we then put to the bottom of our priorities? Yes, ourselves. We tell ourselves that everything else is priority and therefore the thing we do just for us, we can postpone this week...and before you know it, one week becomes two weeks, becomes a month and so on...
So, I sat down and asked myself that very same question..."If you can do one thing which is great for your own mental wellbeing, what would it be?"
Hmm, I've started listening to audiobooks and playing more golf, both of which I enjoy and that help...but that isn't the answer. I know what the answer is, but I have told myself on so many occasions that I can't do it, that I have believed it and given up trying. Well, today that all changes!
Nothing, and I mean nothing that I can do, just for me, makes me happier and healthier than playing football. I have played football since I could walk and it was my release. Even when tragic events happened in my life, playing football was the one constant and for 90 minutes whilst playing a match, I thought of nothing else.
Thirteen years ago, following a series of injuries, I then suffered the injury no footballer wants to have - I ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament. Since then I have half-heartedly tried to get back playing football, but always convinced myself I didn't have the time, or that after several failed attempts and recurring knee injuries, that it was time to give up. Now, time has been at a premium as I filled my time with football coaching and more recently setting up my own business and having two children, which keeps me busy!
The Big 4-0
Having turned 40 years old this year, then most people at this age who play football have either retired or are nearing hanging up the boots, so it might seem a little ambitious to say the least to get back playing again! Never mind someone who has piled on a few pounds and suffered a few bad injuries! But then I asked myself the question, "why not?"
Do something just for you
So...it is official, I am going to spend the next few months training hard and building up the strength in my knee so that I can start playing football again. What is it they say, 'shoot for the moon, and even if you miss you'll land among the stars'. For me, replace 'moon' with competitive football and 'stars' with playing football with friends. My default way of thinking is such that I was thinking about ways I could do this to inspire others, raise money for charity etc and then I stopped myself...'take your own advice'. I am doing this for me. But, as I always say when delivering this training, if you make time to do what you love, you will not only give yourself a better chance of being healthier, mentally, but if you feel good, you will likely be a better partner, parent, employee, manager and person full stop. Therefore, doing something just for you is not selfish at all, and in fact others in your life will also feel the benefit.
And...if a few others, middle aged like myself, or not, feel inspired by reading this to go do what they love doing, then that can only be a good thing :)
Will keep you posted on my journey...take care for now,
Aged 40 & 1/4