Mental Health for Coaches: Creating an Active Lifestyle

Two years ago I wrote an article entitled “Mental Health for Coaches: Are You Living a Sustainable Lifestyle?” Recently this article made its rounds on social media and resonated with many coaches. Over the past few weeks I have received messages about the content in the article and my own journey.

Because of this I have decided to write a few follow-up articles.

Living an Active Lifestyle

As coaches we profess the value and benefits of an active lifestyle, but too often we aren’t practicing what we preach.

Coaching is a demanding job and can drain your physical, mental and emotional energy. One way to restore that energy is through exercise.

What Do You Do to Stay Active?

When I coached full-time I found it very hard after spending 10 hours (most often more) of my day thinking about swimming to motivate myself to hop in the pool. Because of this I found other activities to keep myself fit including rock climbing, trail running, kayaking and yoga.

This had many tremendous benefits. I was not only staying physically fit, but it also gave me a chance to create another focus away from the pool and create social relationships outside of the sport of swimming.

What are the activities that give you the most energy?

What are Your Fitness Goals?

We teach athletes to make SMART goals. Goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

Almost all coaches can list off the SMART goals they have pertaining to their teams performance in the pool, but how many can do the same for other areas in their lives?

Create one SMART fitness goal. It doesn’t have to be huge, but create a well structured goal and build a plan to achieve it.

How Can Micro Goals Help You Build Momentum?

Changing a habit is not easy. Micro goals are a great way to transform behaviour.

One of my favourite authors Tim Ferriss talks about this in terms of rigging the game so you can win it. Ferriss, who is prolific in his writing, has stated one of the best pieces of advice he was given is to write two crappy pages a day,“I was told at one point, your goal should be two crappy pages per day. That’s it. If you hit two crappy pages, even if you never use them, you’ve succeeded for the day.”

“Alleviating that performance anxiety… allows you to overshoot that goal, continually succeed, and sort of build that confidence and momentum.” He continues, “The feeling that you’re winning, is a precursor to winning on a really large scale.”

Dr. Greg Well recently published a book called the “The Ripple Effect”, which explores the significance of how sleep, nutrition, movement and cognitive activity work together to create greater health.

In the book Dr. Wells offers “Dr. Greg’s 1% tips”. These tips are essentially micro goals that will lead to greater wellness.

Two of my favourite in his section on movement are the 20/20 rule and find the right time of day to exercise.

The 20/20 rule is for every 20 minutes of sitting take 20 seconds to stand, stretch or move.

When is the best time of day to exercise? “Dr. Greg’s 1% tip” is simple “the time of day when you will train consistently.”

The best time for me to train is at the beginning of the day. Activity on its own energizes me, but achieving something at the start of day creates the momentum that Ferriss talks about.

Recently I have taken over a masters group that trains at 5:30 am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Some people think I am a little nutty, but to start the day right I get up at 4:00 am to go through my morning routine, which includes 10-20 minutes of yoga.

What is one micro goal you can accomplish that will put you on your path to achieving a greater level of fitness?

Make the Time

Being active revitalizes the mind and body, which in the end will make you a better coach and more importantly a healthier person.

Knowing what gives you energy, having goals and focusing on changing habits are great ways to create an active lifestyle. Ultimately you have to make it a priority and manage your time to implement the plan.

I have created the following two yoga practices to help start and end your day in an active and healthy way.


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Great article!


This is a great reminder for coaches to take care of themselves. Age is just a number. Can have an “older” coach who eats healthy and exercises and has a good attitude who can be effective during what some consider old- 70 plus. That coach can be healthier and have a great physical and mental energy that a coach 20 years younger.

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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