Your mental health is equally as important as your physical health
Life can be crazy and if you’re anything like me there are days where you feel like it was nonstop until your head hits the pillow. I think we’ve all been there and most of us can agree that it’s not a great feeling. If you do this too many days in a row it catches up and now you are: on edge, crabby, can’t focus, not performing at your highest level, temperamental, and overall just not fun to be around. When trying to Become Better Each Day this state of mind is about the furthest thing from it and you are just trying to survive at this point. Your body and mind are not meant to work this way, they both need breaks in order to function at its best. That why I stress the importance of relaxation.
You’re probably not relaxed even though you think you are
You may think that you’re giving your body a break when you lay on the couch scrolling through your apps, but the truth is your brain is still very active in those moments and that activity is only contributing to the stress and fatigue that you’re feeling at the end of the day. Another great example of not giving your body a break when you may think you are, is by going out to do an activity that you enjoy.
Dave Asprey in Game Changes: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life, talks about how we are not always giving our body and mind a rest even when we believe we are. He says working out may be considered a stress relief to some, but your body may be seeing this kind of physical activity as even more stress.
Any time your body and mind have to work, regardless of what it may be working on, may be contributing to its overall stress and fatigue.
You’re killing your creative thinking process
When your body enters this survival state of mind, you no longer are leaving room in the brain to use it’s creativity and generate new thoughts and ideas. When you are trying to become better the last thing you want is for your brain to shut down and just start going through the motions.
Giving your body and mind the rest it needs is essential for problem solving, generating new ideas, innovation, and clarity.
Now that we know going 100 mph 24/7 is not good for ourselves, what can we do to resolve this issue? I have listed some steps below that have helped me.
- Buy a planner or use a calendar app to start planning out your day in advance. This will help you use your time more efficiently and stop you from wasting valuable time throughout your day.
- Don’t use your phone for the first hour of the day. This one is huge. Have you ever taken a shower in the morning and had a really good idea come to mind? That’s because something special happens within that first hour of waking up that triggers your creative process. When you look at your phone first thing in the morning to check messages, emails, Facebook, etc. you’re wasting that energy on something that could be used towards something far more important. Think of your energy level like a battery and every decision you make (big or small) takes away from that battery. Wouldn’t you want your battery to be used doing productive and meaningful tasks? If so, you have to start by getting your day off on the right foot, and that means first thing in the morning do something that is important to you and not something obsolete. Not only will you start the day off accomplishing an important task, but it will set the pace for the remainder of the day. Once you get into the habit of this you will find yourself being more and more productive as the days go on.
- Schedule 10-15 minutes of reading time per day. Reading is a great way to clear your mind from all of the other distractions and focus on the task at hand. It’s also one of my favorite ways to keep my creativity sharp, learn and develop new ideas. Reading can spark inspiration and allow you to think about things differently than you may have before.
- Every decision you make ask yourself if it’s going to align with your goals. We already covered that your energy is like a battery getting drained during the day, so when you have to make a decision before responding ask yourself if it is going to get you closer to what you’re trying to accomplish. Every decision can push you either closer or away from your goals, so make sure the ones you are choosing are pushing you towards them.
- You can’t do everything. If you’re ambitious you will try and take on the world, and saying no will be extremely hard. For me, I feel like I am wired to say yes in fear that I will disappoint someone if I don’t. For your own sanity you have to start saying no. You’re not being rude, you’re looking out for yourself and others. When you overcommit to things that’s when you start feeling overwhelmed and not performing at your best. You know who suffers then? Everyone. You suffer because now you’re beyond stress, this carries over into your work and not giving your best effort, and the person you made a commitment to suffers because they didn’t receive the quality work they expected to be delivered. Stop overcommitting. Pick and choose what you can handle, make sure it aligns with your goals, and give those projects your best effort.
- Meditation. I saved this one for last so I could expand on it a little more going forward. Tell me a year ago that meditation would play a big part in my life and I would have laughed at you. Nowadays, I try to meditate every day for at least 10 minutes. It’s been a game changer for me. A recent study showed that 15 minutes of meditation a day can be equivalent to taking a personal day at work. I’m not lying, here’s an article. Think about how crazy that is for a second. How many of us could use a personal day? Now you can have the same benefits of that personal day by simply meditating for 15 minutes. That’s huge.
Like I said earlier, a year ago, I wouldn’t have considered meditation. I knew nothing about it and didn’t want to know anything about it. I enjoy reading self-development books, it’s my favorite kind of reading material. You know what book after book mentioned in regards to being the best version of yourself? Meditation. That’s what originally got me intrigued with the practice, and after becoming very overwhelmed last year with a new baby on the way, graduation closing in, work stress, I was looking for something to help relieve this stress. I started using an app to get into the practice and a few random Youtube videos, and slowly but surely I found how to do it alone. It took a lot of practice, but here are some myths that you may have (I know I did) that I would like to debunk.
- You can fail at meditation. Wrong, there is no wrong way to meditate. Yes, your brain will get flooded with thoughts, but the goal isn’t to eliminate all thoughts, it’s to acknowledge them and calmly stop them when they occur.
- Only religious types meditate. No, it’s for everyone and benefits everyone.
- It’s too hard. It’s not, at first it may feel a bit weird, but once you understand that by just doing it you’re already succeeding you will realize how easy it is.
- You need to have an out-of-body experience. Again, no. You are simply relaxing your mind, gently acknowledging and turning down thoughts and focusing on one task.
I encourage everyone to start meditating. This is one of the most ideal ways to relax your brain and give it the much deserved break it needs. Once you finish your meditation you will find that you’re in a much calmer and more peaceful state of mind that will allow you to think and act more clearly.
What should you start doing?
Start giving your mind the rest that it needs, so you can give your body as a whole a chance to work at its peak performance. Once you understand the importance of relaxation and make it a priority, your body will thank you.
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