So, how’s this COVID-19 new normal working out for you? Gained weight? Feeling like a prisoner? Foggy brained after your fourth Zoom call of the day? Kids pushing your limits? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, most of the professionals I work with express similar frustrations.
Trying our best to meet the challenges of the crisis we find ourselves in takes a heavy toll on our energy, motivation, and endurance. It taxes our physical and emotional reserves far more than we recognize. This applies to us, our teams, and associates. The question then, is how to maintain our alertness and sharpness as we traverse a very stressful and unfamiliar journey?
To succeed in a crisis situation we need energy, stamina, and endurance to stay active and engaged. We are facing a great deal of uncertainty and change right now. The results are a wide-spread feeling of anxiety, fear and doubts. To succeed under these conditions requires a high level of reliable health, which can only be achieved through wisely and carefully meeting the needs of our physical bodies.
For the past forty-five years, I’ve spent the majority of my professional life on the road, traveling to where my clients are. This has required me to make my own health and wellness a top priority due to the unpredictability of hotel/restaurant life, along with the lack of any normal daily routine. Consequently, emotional well-being and physical health are subjects I have studied for decades, and continue to learn about daily. In this article, I share with you some of the topics I’ve focused on over the years that I believe will benefit your own health and productivity.
NUTRITION: A GOOD DIET IS YOUR ALLY, A POOR DIET IS YOUR ENEMY
Your daily performance depends on a healthy mind and body, and eating well is the best way to sustain the energy you need to get the professional and personal results you count on. The right foods will give you the boost you need to accomplish all that is expected of you, and that you desire of yourself.
If you want to minimize that mid-morning let down, eat breakfast! Include some form of protein in your morning diet. Protein will provide you with that extra energy that you need all morning long. (And you will burn more carbs when you work out). Examples of breakfast protein include meats, cheeses, milk, yogurt, beans, eggs, nuts, cottage cheese, and veggie smoothies.
Also, make sure you take a lunch break! This is not just to provide fuel to your body, but it gives you a much-needed emotional respite from your work. It is your mid-day refresh!
Capitalizing on good foods and avoiding harmful ones will fuel your body and your brain! You will benefit greatly from the results of increased energy and stamina. What a difference that will make!
SLEEP: A NECESSITY, NOT A LUXURY
Does your life feel like one long blur? Do you know what day it is? Are you feeling numb? Are you forgetting things? If so, let me ask you: “How much deep sleep are you REALLY getting?” I bet it is not enough for what your brain truly needs from you.
Sleep is probably the most neglected health behavior. We tend to sacrifice our sleep time, even though it impacts our behavior FAR more than we realize. On any given day we cram in as much as we can, thinking that “one less hour of sleep tonight won’t make a difference.” But it does make a MAJOR difference!
In our work performance, I have observed that the amount of sleep that professionals get directly affects their effectiveness in emotional intelligence, relationship skills, and people smarts. During any crisis, the normal emotional and physical needs that we all have multiplies dramatically. Leaders need quality sleep to be aware of and meet these essential needs.
Bluntly stated, the more tired we are, the more prone we are to saying and doing things we later regret because they damage relationships that we depend on.
Inadequate sleep impairs our ability to navigate human signals in relationships, read critical nonverbal cues, make intelligent decisions, maintain cool heads when needed, regulate our emotions during any given day, think logically, communicate clearly, and establish a strong emotional IQ. We need these success tools!
EXERCISE: THE KEY TO A HEALTHY BRAIN
Level with me. Are your muscles tight? Are you complaining about new back pain? Do you swear that your desk chair has molded to your rear end? Do you feel fifteen years older than you did nine weeks ago? You need to get moving regularly! Exercise is essential in providing the energy, fitness, and endurance that we must have.
Maintaining our personal sharpness requires getting the blood pumping. Exercise offers many well-known benefits including increasing muscle mass, helping you lose weight and reducing chronic pain. A less well-known benefit of exercise is how it supports and boosts brain health, which we all need.
Increasing your heart rate pumps more oxygen to your brain which promotes cell growth in the hippocampus area of your brain, which is responsible for your motivation, emotion, learning, and memory.
Exercise also promotes neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s ability to change, adapt, respond, and improve.
In a crisis situation, we need to keep our brain primed to readily adapt and handle new stresses as they arise. You can accomplish this with as little 150 minutes per week - and one of the best ways is to get outside and take a walk. Walking has the added benefit of changing your environment and preventing the feeling of going stir crazy.
You cannot sustain the performance in both your work and your personal life that you depend on unless you wisely and carefully fuel and maintain both your body and mind. You have just read a summary of helpful and healthy tips that I’ve collected over the years, that we all need in order to sustain our sharpness and sanity during any crisis. These tips are designed to provide you with the maintenance that your brain and body require. Consider each of these three areas as you maneuver through this crisis. They will give you the physical and emotional balance that you depend upon, which will provide you with the stamina, endurance, and energy you must have to succeed in an uncertain world. Go for it!