Let’s start with one of the less obvious Resilience factors, but also one of the most critical: your physical health.
This should be an area of focus for everyone, but especially if you answered questions like these in the survey with Strongly Disagree, Disagree or Neutral:
- I have enough energy to do what I have to do
- I generally eat a good, well-balanced diet
- When I relax, I feel really relaxed
- I sleep well
- Exercise is an important part of my life
Our physical well-being immediately and intimately impacts on how well we are dealing with stressors. Just think about it… how well are you managing your emotions after a night of poor sleep?
When asked what the secret of happiness was, the Dalia Lama responded “Nine hour’s sleep a night”.
The impact of poor sleep habits is far- reaching and serious. It’s been implicated in general poor self-regulation and self control, mental health issues, weight issues and, of course, poor resilience.
(If you are interested in the scientific link between sleep and weight issues, I can recommend The Sleep Diet by Dr Carmel Harrington).
The issue is that we tend to prioritise other “more important” activities over sleep. This week, I invite you to prioritse your sleep hygiene.
If your sleeping habits are pretty good, you could try focusing on your rest breaks and relaxation throughout the week.
Exercise Sleep: If you don’t sleep well, this week’s challenge is to prioritise your sleep. Get into a good sleep routine, don’t exercise just before bed, don’t read from your ipad or laptop before sleeping (the light from these screens are at just the right frequency to completely mess up our rhythms), get the temperature and bedding right…and get a good night’s rest.
We need to remember that our brain is part of our physical body and so our diet fuels not only our physical self, but our thoughts, dreams and beliefs. It also goes a long way towards how we manage our emotions. It’s a pretty critical function.
I’m not going to bang on about diets and so on- you know what constitutes good eating and poor eating. If you’ve let things slip a bit (and for those of you in our hemisphere where it’s winter right now, I hear you!), this week’s challenge is for you is to focus on what you are eating and to get it right.
Exercise: Improve my eating. Do what you need to to create better eating habits. This might be focusing on the kinds of food you eat, when you eat or how you eat. Notice how eating the right things at the right time can keep you feeling calmer, more energized and more in control.
It’s probably no mistake that I’ve put exercise last; it tends to happen in my life, too! I’ve got to admit I find this one difficult to keep up, so I will be using exercise as my area to work on and improve this week.
Why is it important? Several reasons. Yes, it keeps us physically more able, supple and alert. It also impacts on our self esteem and self regulation. Most interestingly, I think, is that exercise is known as a ‘key-stone’ habit. That is, the benefits of doing exercise impact on a wide area of your life. So, with regular exercise you will find that you improve in other areas requiring discipline such as focus and concentration (want to procrastinate less, anyone?) better eating habits, and better sleep. All these areas interact and you’ll find that all ten areas of resilience I’ve chosen will overlap, too. It’s all part of the fun.
Exercise: Doing more- If you know that being physically active is your challenge, then this is the area to focus on this week. If you are generally sedentary, now’s your week to get up and at ‘em. Start with a simple, everyday walk. If you are bit more active, your job is to do more! Commit to it for a week and see how you are performing in other areas in your life.
This area of resilience is also one I want you to keep up throughout the ten week period. You can choose to focus on one or the other (sleep, eating, exercise) or to alternate, but I believe that your physical well-being is so fundamental to a resilient state that you need to keep this one up.
Well, that’s it for this week. I’d be keen to know how you are all going. Stay tuned!
PS: Missed the link for completing the survey? Try it here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/10_week_Resilience