Put Your Health and Wellness on a Pedestal
Tell you a secret: I have said no to paid work because the date clashed with a session I had planned with my coach for that month. Another secret: when my kids are sick at home, I make sure that I get at least 30 minutes of exercise each of those days – because I know that is the only thing which makes me able to care for my kids.
I can safely say that I have put my health and wellness (physical and emotional) on a pedestal. And this has not been easy. So why do I do it? Because I strongly believe in the link between my wellness aand how I show up for my work with others. The irony I have noticed is that the more time I put in my health and wellness, the better my business outcomes are. Every time I struggle with work, I take a break to look after myself and came back refreshed and reenergized to face the challenge. This break can be a short one like a 10-minute walk in the park to a longer one like exercising in the gym or even an hour curled up with a good book. Whatever I do, it is with the intent of looking after my own wellness.
When I conduct leadership workshops, I am struck by the number of senior executives who share that they feel guilty about taking the time to look after themselves – such as exercising, going for a yoga class or simply just sitting and breathing. People feel that time should be spent doing something more “productive” like clearing urgent emails or working on the next project. In our “always on and always connected” society, hitting the Pause button can feel like a huge trade off – and one which may cause people to feel guilty.
The word wellness sometimes connotes a “good-to-have” rather than a “must-have” for busy leaders. “I wish I had the time,” is a frequent remark I hear and I can empathise with that sentiment. Even for me, there are days when all I can do to focus on my wellness is to just take deep breaths. Life can be overwhelming. But if you want to build your personal resilience and sustain your energy over time, consider putting in place some practices in your life to help you build that resilience. I notice more articles written by executive magazines encouraging leaders to be aware of the need for personal wellness as a leadership strategy. https://hbr.org/2017/05/prevent-burnout-by-making-compassion-a-habit
Here are some practices for you to consider:
If you only have a minute:
- Lower your eyes. Take 5 deep breaths.
If you have 10 minutes:
- Close your eyes. Take 10 deep breaths. Rub your palms vigorously together to generate heat and place on your closed eyes.
- Stretch your neck, shoulders, arms gently.
If you have 30 minutes:
- Take a walk in nature. Switch off or put on silent your device. Reach out and touch leaves, flowers, plants, water or any other part of nature.
- Take off your shoes and stand on grass. Gently stretch and reach down to touch your toes.
If you have an hour:
- Consider some form of exercise that suits you. If you can, end the exercise with a shower to really reinvigorate yourself.
- Journal your thoughts in the moment. Or consider asking yourself big questions like “what am I learning about this experience”, “how am I showing up” or “what assumptions am I making”.
Experiment and notice which practice best suits you and your lifestyle. The key is to be comfortable with your practice and notice the impact it has on your wellness and in turn how that creates a shift in your work.