“How many of you know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that if you exercised 20 mins every day you would think clearer, feel better about yourself, be healthier, be more productive and focused and, in all probability, live longer?” This is a question I often ask during training and all hands go up. Then I ask, “So how many of you actually exercise for 20 mins a day?” Less than a tenth of hands usually go up.
What about you? Do you exercise daily? If not - why?
“No time,” is the most common answer. I then paint a picture of being in an accident and coming out with incredible back pain from which the only relief is daily exercise -and ask who would put in 20 minutes exercise a day to avoid pain. Again all hands go up. It is not a matter of time but priorities.
Generally we do not value our health (or all the other privileges we have) until we lose it.
There is so much to say on the topic of “self-care” that I thought I would skip the ideology and focus on the practical, actionable ideas that someone reading this article can apply. I have chosen the 6 areas I identified last week giving a few pointers under each. My aim, as with all that I do, is that you find something here you can apply that will make a positive difference to your life.
Soul - Knowing how to revive your inner most self requires self awareness. How well do you know you? How do you learn, relax, communicate, love and feel loved, motivate and refresh yourself? Doing a personality profile can help you understand yourself better - try www.16personalities.com. Think about what makes you feel ‘alive’ and regularly book in time to do more of that. Consider your place in the universe and daily make time to connect with the Creator - however you understand ‘God’. (Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You is a great book by John Ortberg)
Mind - The mind is a muscle that can be grown and regenerated. Its ability to form new neuronal connections is still amazing scientists. Feed your brain. I aim to listen and/or read a book a week. Listen to podcasts, watch inspiring and interesting programmes and people - www.ted.com, www.youtube.com, motivational speakers, inspiring and challenging movies. Do mind-challenging puzzles, quizzes, tests; subscribe to www.HRB.com and similar sites (www.Inc.com www.mashable.com ). Set a goal to learn something every day, be interested in life.
Body - Your health determines the quality of the rest of your life. Eat well - Don’t shop hungry, and only buy good food. Eat breakfast. Drink a lot of water - I put a bottle of water on my desk to ensure I hydrate often. Get enough sleep - sleep is the recharge mechanism. Create routines that make it easy to exercise. I have a skipping rope handy and often break tasks with a quick skip in between. Have prompts to exercise - when travelling I wake up, pray, then do 20-50 sit-ups and push-ups. Breathe deeply 10 times x 3 times a day - your brain primarily needs oxygen and glucose - feed it well. Use technology like a Fitbit or phone app to help set challenges, goals and keep you on track and accountable.
Emotional - You are not your emotions. Your emotions are messages that allow you to better understand your environment. Learn to understand yourself. Self observation and self analysis leads to self improvement. Develop your emotional intelligence (EI) - seek to understand why you might be feeling something rather than blindly reacting to it. Decide who you want to be and use this as a check before you react. You are responsible for your actions and reactions - nobody else's. Develop listening skills and truly seek to understand other people's perspective. Have fun. Often!
Environmental - Your environment determines the messages that are constantly receiving. What do you listen to, watch, read every day? Are the messages you are subjected to (both directly and subliminally) positive and building? Do you have an orderly work space, natural light, uplifting pictures, ergonomic furniture, properly working equipment? Set up all your living (that includes work BTW) spaces so they enhance your day rather than drain it. This includes what you choose to watch and listen to - negative messages constantly streaming into your environment inevitably affect your mood and outlook.
Relational - Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously observed that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Our inner circle affects our self perception, our aspirations and our beliefs more than we realise. Do you have people in your life that challenge you, stretch you, affirm you and encourage you? Do you have a purpose to your life? Do you have goals? Does your inner circle know these and keep you on track or are they more likely to squash your dreams and drag you down to their level so your success does not make them feel bad? Les Brown noted "If you're the smartest person in your group, then you need a new group." Surround yourself with the best and you will get better.
As always if we can assist in any of the above or related training please do get in touch. You have made it this far in the article so please share what you feel is the top tip and, most importantly, apply your learning. Nothing changes if nothing changes!