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  • JP Bauer

Q&A: Josh Norris on the importance of Mental Health


Josh Norris is a professional hockey player for the Ottawa Senators. Josh and I became acquainted through a mutual friend in high school and college. I reached out to Josh to see if he would be willing to help me out on a project regarding mental health and he was more than willing to contribute. Josh touched on how to stay focused, organized, and productive especially during the quarantine. Josh also touches on how social media and phone use has affected his health.

Q: Typically, all of your days are scheduled and busy with workouts, practice, etc. What have you done during quarantine to take care of your mental health with all of this unusual downtime? What did quarantine teach you about yourself? And your mental health?

A: I have learned a lot about myself during the quarantine. The biggest thing I have done during quarantine to keep my mental health in good shape is to have some sort of routine. With all of the free time, it's easy to get into bad habits ie. be on your phone all day, watch movies all day, etc. I'm taking it as a time where I try to be as productive as I can. My daily routine in the morning consists of making my bed, taking my vitamins, washing my face with water and then brushing my teeth, writing down in my journal a to-do list for the day, making my morning protein shake, and then heading off to work out at the same time every day. I find I’m mentally sharper when I have a plan laid out for the day for things I need to do. Things outside my to-do list come up so I take care of those as the day goes on.

Q: Do you practice any daily exercises (physical or mental) that you find beneficial for your mental health?

A: I don’t necessarily have any specific methods to practice my mental health, but I do try to limit the use of my phone on a daily basis, especially staying off social media as much as I can. this goes back to my to-do list; that’s my practicing mechanism for my mental health - it helps with discipline.

Q: Mental illness and mental health are very important topics for young men, if you could go back and talk to your high-school self, what is some advice you’d give to high school/ younger Josh?

A: Advice I’d give to younger Josh would be to just enjoy your life and don’t take anything too seriously. If you believe in yourself and enjoy what you’re doing, things will usually work themselves out in the end. Enjoy hanging out with your friends and just try to be open to different things. Life is way bigger than hockey.

Q: How do you deal with setbacks?

A: To me, setbacks are a base for growth. I think a lot of people, especially younger, struggle with setbacks and adversity. Adversity allows you to look at what went wrong, or what you could have done differently, and then you can grow and move forward. If approached with an optimistic attitude, setbacks drive you to believe in yourself even more. It is totally ok to fail at something or to not have done something as well as you wanted, but again, this allows you to stay laser-focused and re-attack it.

Q: How do you balance a busy schedule? How do you balance your priorities?

A: This goes back to my to-do list in the morning. Playing pro hockey is much different and we have a lot of downtime, so I make a to-do list so that I have something to do once I get home from the rink in the morning. I do the things that I need to do that day, and then I know that I was productive that day and don’t have to worry about wasting a day.

Q: Do you have any friends/coaches/teammates/family that you can count on when you need someone to talk to? How important is that?

A: My family is always there for me, as are some of my closest friends. It’s really important to have people to talk to. Sometimes it might be hard to talk about some things to your family, so I think it’s super important to have people outside of that circle to talk to that you can trust and talk about whatever it is you may be facing mentally.

Q: Do you have a simple motto or mantra that you like to live by? What influenced that?

A: I don’t have a specific slogan or anything like that… but two things that I think about daily that keep me motivated and excited about life are 1) you only have one life... don't waste days 2) write your own story… that’s the fun part of life.