At 1N5 we talk about self-care every day. How do we educate our audiences on how to take better care of themselves? It is a topic that is always on my mind. I try to make it a priority for myself to include some form of self-care every day. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t do so well.
So, what does a good day look like for me? I do start every day with a seated mindfulness practice for at least 10 minutes. My routine is to take my shower then start my practice. I personally like to just sit in quiet and breathe. If my mind wanders, I continue coming back to paying attention to my breath. I have had this practice for about 14 years, and I know that if has changed how I show up in the world. I have a general sense of calm, if something starts to trigger emotions and feeling during the day, I take a moment to do three deep breaths and for the most part I can remain very calm. Recent research provides strong evidence that practicing non-judgmental, present-moment awareness (a.k.a. mindfulness) changes the brain, and it does so in ways that anyone working in today’s complex business environment, and certainly every leader, should know about.
Meditation affects the brain’s functionality, its structure, and its thought patterns. The more you meditate and practice mindfulness, the more the brain’s synapses strengthen, which can help improve your life. Every time you indulge in those negative thoughts and feelings, you are strengthening their effect on you. However, every time you engage in positive thoughts and behaviors and let go of the negative ones, you are retraining your brain to think a little differently.
The challenge for me is once I leave my house in the morning, the rest of my day can be very busy and chaotic. I try to practice breathing during the day but know in my heart that I need to incorporate some other practices. Walking is my practice of choice. I love being outside in any weather. Breathing fresh air and noticing the wonders of nature really having a calming effect on me. Walking provides the best of both worlds. It offers the physical benefits of exercise while also boosting your emotional well-being. In fact, walking regularly can help ease symptoms related to chronic mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Walking helps boost your mood because it increases blood flow and blood circulation to the brain and body. You can build on the positive effects of walking by inviting friends to join you. Walking with others for one or two days per week can have enormous benefits. Physical exercise combined with positive social interactions can improve negative moods, ward off depression, and improve self-esteem. I try to walk 3 days a week for at least 30-45 minutes at a time.
Another protective factor for me is connecting with friends. That has been more challenging over the last few years but as spring approaches I am really trying to combine outside activities with friends. Having a break from work, laughing and breathing fresh air all combine to raise my spirits.
What is it for you? Take some time to think about what raises your spirit and try to incorporate it into your daily routines. You will be amazed by the difference it makes to your wellbeing.