‘When did you last take time to breathe? Be still, fill your lungs and let it all out?’ This is the question posed to readers by print magazine Breathe recently. In our chaotic lives, they say, it’s easy to forget the importance of investing in our body and soul – just breathing and being.
Are there particular stressors that tip you over the edge into frantic? Business decisions and accountabilities? Pulling long hours? Feeling isolated? Cash-flow? And what about the other every-day factors such as kids, family, spouse and ad hoc events that all add to the pull and push. We’d each recognize and relate to all of those, and the sum of all these parts can seem overwhelming - enough to make even the calmest heart palpitate faster.
We all know deep in our fast-beating entrepreneurial hearts that taking time out for ourselves makes us better business leaders and entrepreneurs - and better humans too.
But when we’re riding the roller coaster it can be hard to find exactly the right moment to jump off for a spell. We might never get back on! Planning a poolside holiday with cocktails is all very well, but it’s easier said than done.
The answer? Build some strategies into your everyday working life to allow your brains and body to re-fuel with the good stuff. No time to make like a Buddha at a Balinese retreat? No sweat! Here are some simple measure you can take closer to home.
MAKE EVERY MEAL THE MOST IMPORTANT
Seventy percent of your energy is spent on digestion. Amazing, right? It happens when you’re not doing or thinking about much else, and it takes some effort. Furthermore, the foodstuffs you’re providing your body with make a difference too. The less natural and the more they have to do with white coats, laboratories and conveyor belts, the more energy your body requires to digest them. Yup, turns out nature knows best when it comes to what you’re eating.
So fuel yourself with good food - it’s the least you can do for your body! Be kind with what you put in your mouth, because a diet of fresh, raw and home-cooked foods are the best way to deliver the enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that keep you breathing easy too.
We’re not talking gym membership, or even an evening jog. Just make movement a part of your working life and bring it up front in your consciousness. Park further away from the office, leave the building to eat lunch, track your steps, walk to someone’s desk instead of sending an email, take the stairs. You don’t necessarily have the best ideas while seated behind your desk. Sometimes they arrive when you’re elsewhere – and your subconscious is doing the work for you. Going for a wander can be productive! Move more and sit less – or ring the changes by holding your next meeting standing up. Simple but effective ways of keeping you on the move, motivated and just a little bit refreshed.
Music can have profound effects on both your emotions and your body. Faster music helps us feel more alert, and perhaps even concentrate better. Upbeat music often spurs optimism and positive thoughts, while a slower tempo quiets minds and relaxes muscles, helping us to feel soothed and releasing the stress of the daystress of the day. Just remember: one person’s beat-box is another person’s white noise, so earplugs are the go.
A PRODUCTIVITY SECRET
We couldn’t let the chance to share one of our best ‘to-do’ list tricks slip past. Breathe easier by picking the most challenging, important or profitable task of your workday as the one you do first thing. Once it’s achieved, everything else may seem much easier, more manageable, and stress-free. This can help build momentum and keep you focused and achieving for the rest of the day.
We all have those days where clear thinking is gone with the wind and we find ourselves pinned to our seat, paralysed. The trick is to get up, move, keep refreshing and using the simple tricks to manage your workload that do it for you. But most importantly, just breathe!