Have you just been through a tough six months? Well, half the year is almost done! For some, a time to celebrate achieving results within deadlines and, for many, end-of-the-financial-year madness.
Soon July begins and it gives us a chance to push our own health a little higher on the agenda. So now is a good opportunity to prepare for some healthy decision-making and actions steps.
Here are three suggestions to contribute to your mental wellbeing. Maybe slotting them into your life isn’t as difficult as you might think.
1. Digital detox
We are constantly ‘switched on’ – that’s the digital age of communication, connectivity and cognitive overload. Maybe it is impacting our health or performance – are you seeing a decline in your performance, happiness or ability to withstand stress?
How about considering a massage, a health retreat or a holiday? Or maybe something free and within grasp – a digital detox – a full 24-hour period once a month where you don’t use ANY electronic devices or screens. Turn your phone off, don’t sit at a computer, don’t look at a television. This is a day when you can reconnect with family and friends, do some physical activities that you enjoy, social interactions that you’ve learned to live without, artistic pursuits and hobbies that are creative, or maybe read an old-fashioned physical book.
To get the most out of this you need to do something that you really enjoy. If you’re socially inclined or family-minded, this will be a day with other people. If you’re completely burnt out and sick of everyone demanding your time and energy, you might have a day on your own – giving yourself some headspace. Go on a long walk or hike in the country.
When you do this, make a note of how you feel at the end of the day, and make a note of how you feel a few days afterwards when you’ve returned to work or your normal life flow. You should notice a real improvement in your ability to work in a focused and productive way. You will probably also notice that you laugh a bit more, and feel better overall.
The important thing is that you have to make this a priority. You can’t wait for a day to open up when you have absolutely nothing on. This requires some rescheduling and to actively let go of the busy-ness of everyday life.
2. Healthy eating and water
Eating better can make your life better, but so many people are going about it the wrong way. The traditional ‘type A’ personality (someone who does everything to extremes) will tend to go on a healthy eating kick where they remove all the unhealthy foods, exercise for 12 hours in the first week, feel great but struggle to sustain it.
Healthy eating and water intake is part of your lifestyle and part of your habit set that contributes to who you are. We are all resistant to change, and knowing this when trying to create new habits is essential for long term change.
The best way to create lasting change is to make new associations that require very little effort. For example, every time you sit in a café and order a coffee, make sure you also order some water and drink it. Although coffee has a diuretic impact, building the habit of drinking water whenever you sit down carries on to other aspects of your life.
Instead of going from zero exercise to 12 hours in a week, set yourself the task of walking for 30 minutes at lunchtime every day. Once you come to enjoy this (and it will take about three weeks before it feels natural) you can start to introduce other elements of activity. Walking 30 minutes of lunchtime can then go on to become a thirty minute run on the weekend.
Are you a convenience eater? Office life is full of people that are too busy to prepare balanced, nutritious meals, so they resort to grabbing meals on the run which are usually high in salt and sugar and low on the important things.
If you regularly have takeaway food, look for the healthier options that are available. Pizza and burgers used to mean lots of melted cheese and saturated fats. Now you can find versions of these which are actually healthy and enjoyable – it’s just about widening your consideration set and trying new things.
Learn the delicious taste of will power and control – you taking control over your bad habits, changing them and eating well and drinking plenty of water.
3. Meetings on the move
It’s time to challenge a lot of long-standing ways of doing business, and one of the things that needs to be challenged is the need to sit in one place to have a meeting. Walking meetings are great for so many reasons!
It adds physical activity to your day without costing you work time. You can be discussing the finer points of the company’s strategic direction whilst also burning off a few calories. And it removes the need to drink and eat with each meeting.
It also removes some of the formality from a meeting. Sitting across the table from someone who is giving you respectful eye contact can be quite confronting when there is a power imbalance in the room. If you are walking together it creates a relaxed interaction that facilitates honesty and a better exchange of ideas. Obviously there are certain occasions where this isn’t ideal, but for many of the meetings that happen day to day, this can completely change the mood of the office.
When building habits, it is so important to build up slowly. Drastic changes can be rewarding, but so hard to sustain. Slowly building up creates a general increase in your wellbeing that you can keep and build upon.
Eve Ash has a wide range of resources and books that can help people change their thinking and habits in a constructive way.