I’ve just had three days out of action with a particularly nasty head-cold. (It’s winter right now in my part of the world.) And while I really wanted to get in front of my computer and slog out something helpful for all of you fabulous people – I knew I wasn’t leading if I wasn’t practising self leadership first.
So in this short and sweet post, I’m going to share some ways you can make sure you take care of yourself, so that you are truly up to the task of leading and serving others.
“How we lead ourselves in life impacts how we lead those around us.”
― Michael Hyatt
Self Leadership means some things should increase…
Even if you consider yourself to be fairly active, you can usually fit in a little more. And if you have a sedentary desk job, there’s nothing like a good brisk walk before work or on your lunch break to clear the head and get the heart pumping. To count, a walk should be brisk enough that carrying out a conversation is challenging. A gentle stroll doesn’t cut it.
In addition, you should include moderate exercise (enough to break a sweat) at least three times a week. For me, this works best before work, but you need to figure out what works best for you.
Burning the candle at both ends is not something to be proud of. It is not a badge of honour. If anything it shows that you are not managing your time well, or prioritising effectively.
Sleep is vital for healthy brain functioning. According to Harvard Medical School, one of the most compelling explanations for why we need sleep has to do with neuroplasticity – our brain’s phenomenal ability to heal itself, create new connections between neurons, prune unwanted/unneeded neuronal connections and otherwise perform ‘routine maintenance’. In particular, this relates to learning new things and creating new memories. In addition sleep (or lack of it) has been linked with depression.
Self leadership means getting a solid seven to eight hours, nearly every night.
…Nutritionally rich foods
At the very least, increase your fruit and vegetable intake. I’m not a nutritionist, and if you think this is an area you need help, please consult a professional.
What I do know is that your brain requires a phenomenal range of nutrients in order to produce all the neurochemicals required to perform at its potential. Variety is important, so is quality.
There’s a lot of interesting research about the importance of fat (over sugar) and the benefits of ketosis. If you’re interested in this, I suggest you start with Tim Ferris‘ Tools of Titans (see below).
…Play-time, Family-time, You-time
Whatever relaxes you – do more of it. Sport, friends, hobbies, reading, playing with your kids, going out for dinner with your significant other, meditating…
Life can be stressful. You need to make sure you have things you do regularly where none of that matters. Your kids don’t really care about the big presentation you’ve got to give next week. Lose yourself in a great novel. Go to the movies. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, make yourself do it. You might not think you’ll enjoy it when you first start – but you’ll get into it! I promise.
Self leadership means some things should decrease…
I don’t want to sound preachy, so let me just say that smoking, alcohol, eating highly processed/added-sugar/added-salt foods, and sustaining high levels of stress without respite, all do terrible things to your brain, your body, and – well – nearly everything. You cannot lead others if you are unwell. If you can – cut them entirely. If you can’t but would like to, seek help – an accountability partner, a professional coach, an addiction service.
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
― Samuel Johnson
What routines, rituals and habits do you maintain to keep at your best? Let me know in the comments below.
Related Reading (Amazon Associate link)
All you need to be healthy, wealthy and wise… At least structured in a way as to make that as likely as possible. Highlights from Ferris’ multitude pod-cast interviews – crib notes, including hacks, recommendations, links and further reading. Dive in and out where your interest takes you – or read from cover to cover – the choice is yours.