Leading people creates stress and puts pressure on your health and well-being. But as a leader, it's important for you to set a standard that not only keeps you in top shape, but sets an example for your team to follow.
And while you no doubt know what you need to be doing to take care of yourself, chances are you may not be. We cover our five top tips for self care.
1 - Meditate
This is one of the most powerful things we can do for our health yet it's one that many people resist. We think it's because people a) misunderstand exactly what meditation is, and b) have unrealistic expectations about what the experience should be.
We've both been meditating for more than 20 years. Some days we have great meditations and others are like listening to a forest full of chattering monkeys. Very different experiences but each has a benefit.
The fact that you take time out to separate yourself from the busyness of your day is a benefit unto itself. But if you can add to that by actually giving the mind a rest even better. But it's not critical that you have an empty mind experience or see rainbows and unicorns.
The benefits are backed by countless scientific studies and include stress relief, improved work efficiency, reduced blood pressure, improved sleep and more.
There are many different ways to meditate. Our tool of choice is Transcendental Meditation (TM) but if you Google meditation instructors you are bound to find someone nearby who can teach you. You can of course teach yourself (YouTube has plenty of meditation videos) but for us, getting instructed by a professional was one of the best investments we've made. Many organisation will actually teach you for free.
And if you really want to ramp up the benefits in the workplace, use your influence and have a room or space set aside within the business where people can go to meditate. Many companies have such rooms already, including leaders such as Apple, Google and Nike.
And keep in mind that you don't have to have a special time or place to meditate. Once it becomes habitual you'll find you can do it almost anywhere, even in a busy airport or on a plane (unless you are the pilot of course :-).
2 - Move your body
We are designed to move and need to move to maintain strength, flexibility and even posture. We certainly weren't designed to sit at desks or in front of screens all day.
So for those of us who are working in an office or home office environment, we need to do extra to compensate for the movement that's not happening.
Best way to do that is to establish an exercise routine. Not an intention but an actual routine. Do something 3 or 4 times a week that gets your heart rate up. It can be a sport or a class at the gym. Running, cycling or swimming. Even yoga can get the heart rate up.
And on top of the routine, look for opportunities to move your body. Take the lift instead of the stairs. Get off your bus a couple of blocks early. Walk to the water station at the other end of the building instead of the one outside your door. Walk down the hallway to deliver a message instead of sending it via email.
We've even worked with leaders who have bought their team members pedometers and set challenges to see who clocks up the most steps. (You can do the same with phone apps or Fitbits these days).
Bottom line, create a movement movement for yourself and your team.
3 - Turn up the positive
As adults we need to work a little harder to counteract the streams of negative influences that come our way. Bad news on the television. Gossip and rumours in the workplace or home. Even bad experiences like being cut off in traffic, having someone steal your car, be rude to your or even worse.
On top of that, you have all the problems of managing a team to deal with.
These experiences chip away at us and make us much more serious and overburdened than when we were younger.
But the impact these experience have can be countered by making some pretty simple choices.
Some choices can be about how you respond (vs react) to situations that come up.
Victor Frankl wrote Man's Search For Meaning while he was imprisoned in a concentration camp during World War II. Reading that book will put life's situations in perspective and give you fresh ways of looking at things.
If someone cuts you off in traffic, you can bless them and wish them a safe journey instead of cursing them under your breath. When a team member lets you down and puts a deadline at risk you can use the opportunity put the resilience of you and your team to test.
And other choices can relate to your routines and habits.
Turn the radio off on the way to work and listen to an inspiring podcast (we also subscribe to Inspire Nation). Find a source for an inspiring quote of the day and take a few moments to process what it means for you. Turn off the TV news and listen to some uplifting music or watch Ted Talks or Abraham Hicks on YouTube.
Here's the good news. The more you turn up the positive, the more positive happens to you and around you. We live in an attraction based universe and like attracts like. The best way to test this theory is to put it to the test for yourself.
4 - Hydrate
Even though we are carbon based life forms, without water we are doomed. It's as essential to life as oxygen. Yet we often forget to hydrate.
Apart from making the body sluggish it also makes the mind sluggish. That's not good for anyone but especially not good for you as a leader with people depending on you to make good decisions.
The consensus seems to be that 2 litres or more per day is about right but that depends on your size and body composition. If your diet is high in water based foods (vegetables and fruit) then you'll need less than someone who mostly eats processed foods.
The best way to tell is if your urine or clear(ish) and doesn't smell. If not, it's time to down a glass or two of water.
If you really want to get serious you could get a water bottle with a hydration tracking app on your phone. Some will even give you reminder notifications on your phone or watch.
Again, as a team leader, you could perhaps supply your team members with water bottles as well so they can stay hydrated and focused too.
5 - Get outdoors
We don't need to tell you about the benefits of fresh air vs conditioned air but there is lot more to being outdoors than just that.
If you can spend some time in a park or on a beach that's great but even without that, there are still benefits to be had. We hear plenty about the 'bad' effects of sunlight but the benefits are plentiful too (see how we turned that negative into a positive?).
Beyond that, just going outside to marvel at what's out there is enough to lift your spirits. Notice the clouds and wonder about the journey they are on. Look at birds and trees and notice how clever they are at doing bird and tree things. There is no shortage of material that you can be awestruck by if you really put your mind to it. They can contribute greatly to your well-being.
And if you truly can't get outside, at least find a window and park yourself there as if you are outside. Use your imagination to bring the outside in.
Your well-being challenge
While there's nothing earth shattering and probably nothing new to you in what's been written above, the simple question to ask yourself is - What would happen if I tried all of these for a week? Or two weeks? Or even a month or more?
We can guarantee that you will feel benefits if you put these tips into action.
Even better, what if you could inspire your team to do the same?
The only step that may not be familiar to your or your team may be the meditation step. Don't let that be an excuse though. Just look for guided meditations on YouTube and then follow the instructions. Simples!
Give it a go and please let us know how you get on in the comments below or via email.
You can view the original article on our website here.
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