Want to get ahead? Make health your top priority

29 June 2018

Young woman holding cup of coffee and smiling as she thinks about her wellbeing

Michelle Gibbings

Melbourne-based Michelle Gibbings has more than 20 years' experience in leading and guiding people through change across multiple sectors and industries.

Seven easy tips that will help you improve your mental and physical wellbeing. 

‘I’m busy’. It’s the modern catchcry and response to the question – ‘How are you?’

When we are busy, it’s easy to let important things, like our health, go to the bottom of the priority pile.

Just as financial advisers stress the importance of clients keeping their finances in good order, we each need to do the same with our health.

Your health and wealth are very closely connected. When we fail to look after our health, it impacts our ability to earn a living, grow a business and live the life we want to live.

If you are looking for ways to elevate your health to a new level of attention, here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Release the pressure valve

Exercising often, eating well and laughing lots are all key ingredients for releasing the pressure valve.

We all know that exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make us feel good about ourselves, and when we feel good, it’s easy to get started on things that matter to us. And what we eat impacts our mood and general health.

What you may not realise is that listening to music has a huge impact on how we feel.

There’s plenty of research that looks at how it impacts motivation.

Scientific American reports that: “Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual – often without realising it.”

2. Be kind to yourself

Being kind to yourself doesn’t mean you spend the rest of your life sleeping in until midday, eating chocolate and wearing a track suit all day.

It does mean you accept the reality that some time things don’t go to plan, and yes, that can hurt.

You don’t ignore your feelings, nor do you wallow in them. Instead, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, reflect and learn from the experience and keep going.

3. Get enough sleep

Your pre-frontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that’s involved in thinking, analysing and reasoning, gets tired easily.

When your brain is tired, it eagerly takes the path of least resistance; more readily making decisions based on assumptions and expectations. It’s what’s called ‘default thinking’ – the brain decides the way it always decides.

The majority of adults don’t get enough sleep. However, if you want to make better decisions and be more productive, you need to get more sleep.

Start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier, until you reach the ideal amount of nightly sleep.

4. Build your routine

Routines sound boring, and yet most successful people have deliberate routines to start and finish their day.

Richard Branson, for example, is an early riser at 5am. His morning routine includes exercise, drinking tea, checking in with the family and social media.

Richard Branson said: While I am known for being predictably unpredictable – I’m always up for an adventure and love a calculated risk – I do, however, have a morning and nightly routine. I find structure to start and finish the day, helps me to focus and achieve the things I need to.

Routines save you time and energy, because as they become ingrained patterns of behaviour, you spend less time debating or thinking about the activity. Instead, you just get up and do it.

5. Slow your mind

Throughout the day there are times when things will go wrong. This gives rise to uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. All of which can create feelings of stress, tension and discomfort.

The choice you make about how you respond to such events will either minimise those negative feelings or exacerbate them.

Taking the time to stop, breath, reflect and then respond to an event, helps ensure your actions are more mindful and less reactive.

6. Set daily intentions

At the start of each day, set clear intentions on what you want to achieve during that day and write it down. When tasks are written down, they’re harder to ignore than if they’re just floating around as a thought bubble in your head.

These daily intentions also help to ensure you focus enough time on your health, as well.

7. Be grateful

Expressing gratitude is scientifically proven to help you feel happier. It’s as easy as writing down at the end of each day three things you are grateful for. These don’t need to be big things. They can be: a great cup of coffee, the sun was shining, or I played with the children.

It’s the repeated practise of this simple exercise that helps your health.

All of these activities are never about a ‘quick fix’. It’s the choices you make each day and the repeated practise to put your health first that will make the difference.

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