If there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s teaching you how to be the best people leader. And if there’s one thing we know people leaders tend to overlook, it’s their own well being.
Paying extra attention to your mental, emotional and physical well being is always a good idea, so we’ve got some really great strategies to help you do just that.
We use these strategies in our Leadership Essentials Program (our next program is starting September 25th), which consists of six modules. A new module is released every two weeks, with group coaching taking place every second week. We’ve noticed that adding these strategies into your routine and practicing them works wonders for improving your attitude and resilience to everyday life.
How to improve your physical well being
When it comes to well being, the physical aspect is often the first to be noticed. So how do you become physically energised? Our physicality is really about our capacity to expand and recover energy. So it’s really defined by the amount of energy we have.
The first strategy we’re going to share with you is one of the most important ways to re-energise yourself: sleep. It’s not only vital for the body but also the brain. Between the hours of 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM is the peak of the rejuvenation cycle for the body. During this time, your body is busy processing impurities, increasing the immune function and regulating your blood sugar levels. When you get enough sleep, you’re energised throughout the day. It’s that simple.
There are a number of things you can do to make sure you get your daily quota. The first is to set up your environment, so make sure the temperature in your room is between 17 and 18 degrees (celcius, or 62-65 degrees fahrenheit).
Secondly, make sure you’re getting some sun into your retina early in the morning. This will help normalise your circadian rhythm - the natural internal process that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
Our next strategy is hydration. Every system in our body needs water to survive. Compared to 10 years ago, people really seem to be keeping on top of this. In every Zoom meeting, we see people with their big jugs of lemon water. There are just so many benefits. But we can probably slack off a little in terms of the quantity we consume. According to our research, the daily recommendation for women is 11 cups of water.
Not only will staying hydrated keep your joints lubricated, it will help boost your immunity and help you fight infections.
I (Jan) have really prioritised this and have noticed my cravings have been curbed over the past couple of months. Normally, I would want a second cup of coffee mid-morning. Instead, I’ve been sipping on prime tea, which is boiling water infused with coriander, cumin and fennel (CCF) seeds. Not only have my cravings reduced, but my gut health has improved and I’ve noticed a certain shift in my physicality.
So obviously we all need oxygen to be able to breathe. It brings life force into the body and is like the conduit between the outside world and our inner world, in a way. But the way we breathe can be a powerful tool. We need to breathe like babies.
By breathing through and with our diaphragm and expanding our whole body, we massage our internal organs. And by breathing through the nose, we cultivate nitric oxide. This improves our lungs’ abilities to absorb oxygen and feed it to our muscles and organs. It’s also antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral; it’s the bee's knees.
One of the things we do in our Leadership Essentials Program is take you through some breathing exercises, because it’s a good idea to understand your breath and how you use it. The bulk test assesses your ability to breathe and the volume of your breath. It enables you to take note of whether or not you breathe through your mouth, especially at night, and how deeply.
Studies show that when you can breathe through the nose throughout the night, you’re unlikely to wake up with dark circles under your eyes, you won’t be dehydrated, and you won’t suffer from things like halitosis.
And when it comes to the rate at which you breathe, breathing fully and taking six to eight breaths per minute is considered to be a good pace. So take note of that, too, and practice breathing through your nose more. That’s something we can all work on. We promise it’ll improve your well being and you’ll feel the benefits from the get-go.
How to improve your mental well being
Now onto your mental well being. This is all about how you focus your energy. This is something that’s summed up in The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Toy Schwartz. They say that nothing so interferes with performance and engagement as the inability to concentrate on the task at hand. And in order to perform at our best, we must be able to sustain concentration and then move flexibly between broad and narrow, as well as internal and external focus. So if we want to increase our mental energy or be psychologically energised, it’s all about the focus of our energy.
One of the best ways to energise yourself is to practice self-reflection, or introspection. This isn't about disengaging from the world, it’s about looking inwards and asking yourself, ‘How am I feeling? How am I behaving?’. When you can do that, it’ll become clear what’s working and what’s not working, and you’ll be more in tune with your mind and body.
But how can you practice being more self-reflective? Ask yourself what you would do differently each day, or where you’d like to be in terms of your relationships, health and wellbeing. Or, who do I want to be? This is a pivotal question that we ask a lot throughout our Leadership Essentials program.
It’s important to think about these questions as a people leader, especially during these changing and uncertain times. Who do you need to be right now in order to be well, healthy and resilient? And what have you learnt about yourself or others in your team?
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of self-reflection is the language you use. Most of us have 60 to 80,000 thoughts a day, and the majority of them are quite negative. The quality of your self-talk makes all the difference to your focus each day and your overall mental well being.
Tony Robbins says the words we attach to an experience actually become our experience. And most of us use the same kind of words to describe how we are.
There are really three ways to become more aware of yourself through your self-talk. The first is to think about the types of words you’re using. Are they negative? Do they disempower you? You’ll know because there will be an emotion attached to that thought or word. The second is to change the word. For example, instead of telling yourself you feel flat or tired, use words like hopeful or energised. And third, learn to change your state. Your body and mind work together and one will follow the other - it’s hard to feel down or depressed when you’re standing up straight, with your head high and smiling. Your physiology will absolutely create a different state in your body and therefore your mind.
Another strategy to focus your energy to improve your mental well being is to practice being silent and still. If nothing else, being silent gives your brain a much-needed rest. It’s easy to be wrapped up in technology, always looking at a screen or down at our phones. By being still and silent, your energy will be able to move to other areas of your body and shift your focus elsewhere. So, purposeful silence is a real opportunity for you to top up your mental energy as well as building on important relationships and areas of your life.
This is perfectly summed up in the book, The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah, which says: “Without the capacity for silence, man is incapable of hearing, loving, and understanding the people around him.”
How to improve your emotional well being
One of the best things you can do in order to build your emotional well being is to look after yourself; it’s all about the quality of your energy. Self-care isn’t about being selfish. It looks different to different people, but unless you can fill your cup up first, you won’t have a lot to give to others.
Is there something you can do to take care of your emotions today? Can you learn to say yes to yourself and your needs? Can you honour and respect your emotions and be aware of how you're feeling at any point in time throughout the day? Is there an opportunity to build some fun?
Building fun into your everyday life, even if it’s just through watching a comedy instead of a drama, or telling a joke at dinner with your family, will do a lot for your emotional state. Learning to be more creative is also a great way to improve your emotional well being. Use your skills to make something. For some people, being creative comes through cooking, or gardening or painting.
Join us for our Leadership Essentials Program, where we share these seven key strategies and more to improve your physical, emotional and mental well being as a people leader. It’s kicking off on the 25th September 2020. For more information, visit www.yourleadershipessentials.com