Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Even the Loan Wolf Has to Howl with the Pack

This morning I woke up feeling a bit fragile. A poor night’s sleep, stress from a number of directions and, of course, the reality of these pandemic times all weighed a little heavier than in recent days. No matter how polished our skills are at gripping on to perspective we’re all human and things can and will finally catch up with us. Some days perspective simply seems a little out of reach. 

Three things helped to bring perspective back into reach this morning: family, music and coffee. Coffee is easily understood. A little stimulant to open my eyes to the world and put a poor night’s sleep behind me can be a good thing. Listening to a favourite song made a difference as well though the reasons for that are likely too complex to explore here. More importantly it was when my family came downstairs that things really turned around. 

Getting a Boost

We are social animals and no matter our personality we all need to connect, some need very little contact while others need considerably more. I’m somewhere slightly to the ‘need little’ side of that spectrum and often underestimate how important social contact is to me. But here is the simple fact of how I function: when I teach an online class I leave feeling happier than when I arrived. This was always the same with my in-person coaching as well.

There’s no question that the exercise itself makes a difference as it fires many biological processes that result in an enhanced mood. We can’t underestimate the simple social benefit of a workout as well, though. In my case I can tell you that even when I coach in a static manner, not working out myself, I still leave the experience in a better mood. 

I have spent the last twenty years helping to build community in our city through sport but my own workouts are, more often than not, performed solo. In fact, I’ve even done a solo marathon and more than one solo decathlon. I mention that as a means of reaching out to those who are like me and enjoy working out alone. My message for you is that mixing in some social workouts can do you a world of good. You can be actively social, chatting with others, or passive and just take in the banter around you. Either way, sharing time with others in a shared pursuit can have a powerful effect, soon turning that one workout into a weekly highlight in your calendar. 

Scouting New Friends

The benefits to group workouts can go far beyond the immediate. Listening to others speak of their lives and experiences can not only help you to gain knowledge but also draw you into new friendships. The fact is that in adulthood it can be hard to make new friends. Through our 30’s and beyond we have other priorities that top the list like family and career. But more so we spend less time in structured communities like schools where there are ample opportunities to gather with others in clubs, on teams or just in casual gatherings. This is where exercise-related pastimes can play a key role for adults.

There is another reason that some have for shying away from investing in new friendships in adulthood and that is their own personal history. We have all likely had people in our lives that we maybe spent a little too much time with, time that detracted from our wellness instead of enhancing it. This means we carry some caution with us when it comes to investing in new friendships. Again though, the social experience of exercise classes or clubs offers just the right opportunity. You can opt to sit back and play observer, learning more and more about those around you as the weeks go by.

Moving It Into the Real World

Beyond the game or workout, perhaps there is a trip to the pub that gives you the chance to see individuals in a different setting to further learn about them. Then, with all that knowledge, perhaps there is someone with whom you think the chemistry is there for friendship. You are then ready to step out from the existing structure and test the waters in your personal world. 

Life is challenging at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. Staying healthy physically and emotionally is more difficult now than ever for everyone. Just remember that one possible option to enhance your wellness is to join a sport or exercise-related club or class. Not only will it feed your body and soul each week, it would help to enrich your life for years to come.

To close I wanted to share with you a list of some of my favourite clubs here in Ottawa.

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