6 emotional fitness strategies to get your head in the game
Start the new year on the right foot.
It’s all too easy to sail through life on cruise control, but does it equate to happiness? Take charge of your emotional fitness with the six tips.
1. Give yourself permission to take time out
Your brain is your most valuable tool, but it needs rest to achieve great output. Often when people are under the pump, they just work harder. But it’s difficult to produce good work when you’re exhausted. Surviving is not the same as thriving, and giving yourself permission to switch off is essential for your creativity.
Rethinking your approach to downtime so it becomes an essential part of your routine is critical to success. Reframe your attitude from seeing breaks as a guilty pleasure to an important strategy for success. The kicker? If you want to do more, do less.
2. Get enough sleep
To declare you can survive on only a few hours of sleep has become something to beat your chest about. We brag about our sleep debt, but it is killing us and our creativity. In fact, bragging about your lack of sleep is equivalent to bragging about being drunk – you are cognitively impaired.
If you are serious about getting your game on, getting more sleep is the one thing that could make a dramatic difference. There is tons of clear evidence on how sleep, or lack thereof, affects your success. It is a simple way of recharging and keeping our brains functioning at optimal level. But you have to make room for it in your life.
What level of priority do you give sleep? How are your sleeping habits affecting your ability to be the best you can be?
3. Fuel your body
Do you think of food as a fuel source for your most important asset – your mind – or do you see it differently? If you are continually putting the wrong food in your body, you are not getting the best out of yourself, physically and mentally. The brain needs the good stuff to ensure great performance, just like our other muscles.
We get particularly scared when we see leaders eating badly. If you are managing others, there is even more reason to promote food as fuel for great performance. It might be easier to eat fast or pre-packaged food, or reach for the 3pm choccie bar, but once you make the connection between food as fuel and an improvement in your performance, it’s hard to keep eating the same way.
What are you feeding your mind? What rubbish are you telling yourself to make your food habits and choices seem OK?
We are sure you are smart enough to have worked out the benefits of exercise already, so we will get straight to the point. Exercise is a great stress-buster and it’s amazing the kind of creative thinking that can happen on a run or during a spin class – the idea for this book, for example. It not only has short- and long-term benefits physically, but mentally too (even being shown to assist with depression). Too often, though, exercise is put at the bottom of the to-do list or in the too-hard basket. We get the reasons, but we prefer to call the reasons excuses. One thing that often helps bump exercise up the list is to link it to reaching your overall potential. Exercise is a tool that can help you to achieve your goals and maintain or even improve your health.
Most people will not even notice how shallow their breath is, particularly when under stress. Breathing is automatic but, like everything else, the way we do it is habitual. Deep breathing (or conscious breathing) can reduce stress by helping you to control your nervous system and encourage your body to relax, bringing about increased feelings of calm and wellbeing. You can do it anywhere, at any time. You don’t need a candlelit room and rainforest music (but if that is your thing, go for it!).
6. Fit in fun and play
Before we grow up, fun and play are an integral part of our lives, but as the chaos of adulthood sets in, we tend not to make time for pure fun. Most adult activities are structured and function as goal-kicking opportunities; a sense of guilt has developed around building fun into our schedules. But losing yourself in a moment of fun and play can be totally refreshing, and it can fire up your creativity, imagination and problem-solving abilities, too. It can also improve your connection to others and boost your energy. It’s an all-round emotional fitness enhancer. When was the last time you did something purely for fun.
Like what you're reading? Grab a copy of Bianca Chatfield and Leigh Russell's book Game On, that offers readers a motivational kick in the toosh and provides pointers towards super-charging one’s career and life.