You know when you have had one of those days? Or even weeks?
Stress levels are high. Demands and deadlines everywhere. The to-do list seems to be ever-growing. The commute has been a giant PITA. Other people, same.
When I have one of those days, it’s not unusual for me to get home in a fearful grump. Action is very much required to erase the day. I know that the answer definitely isn’t at the bottom of a glass of wine. The answer is within me – and my trainers.
It’s time to put your headphones in your ears and work it off, work it out.
Run it off. Zumba it off. Swim it the hell off. Stretch it out. Lift some weights. Do your thing, whatever it is.
Exercise is a great stress reliever. When you have had one of those days, you probably won’t feel like it very much at all. But push yourself all the same. Just a short burst of exercise will lift your mood and energy, and help to banish the trials of the day.
Work the stress out.
You know those times when your brain just won’t switch off?
Thinking, always thinking. The never ending to do list nagging at the back of your mind. Must dos, ought to dos, got to get dones. Work life imbalance. Thoughts like a butterfly, landing for a moment or two and then flitting to the next thing.
This is when I know it is time to go to the gym for a while.
Counting the reps.
Focusing on technique.
Getting the breathing just so.
Planning the next set.
Music in my ears.
There’s no time for the to-list here. No space to think about work emails or domestic chores. Time to re-set, breathe, find my calm. Just me and the weights.
And my brain, still again.
Part of my day job is wellbeing within organisations. I create and deliver courses about wellbeing, and I coach people around their wellbeing and their life work balance (if there is any such thing). Many of the people I work with are women who are balancing work, families and domestic stuff.
Many of us are so busy in the everyday, so focused on the needs of others and trying to get through the never ending to-do list, that we forget about ourselves. Our own wellbeing gets neglected or slips down the priority list. We just don’t think about it enough. My role as a wellbeing coach is to help people think, reflect, plan. To bring their wellbeing to the forefront. Like many coaches I have questions that I use regularly. They are a way to get the conversation started and help the person I am working with to really think about where they are and what they want. They provide an anchor for future discussions.
Reflecting on our wellbeing on a regular basis is something that many of us can benefit from. Here are a few of the questions that I often ask my coachees.
What does wellbeing mean to you?
How would you describe your current state of wellbeing?
What makes you thrive?
What gives you energy?
What is your biggest wellbeing challenge right now?
What is the thing that you most want to change about your wellbeing?
What’s the first, or easiest, step you could take to improve your current wellbeing?
Thinking about your wellbeing, what does success look like to you?
What gets in the way of you prioritising your wellbeing?
What do you want to achieve – and by when?
When did you last think about your wellbeing – and make yourself your priority?
I don’t have any willpower.
Or so someone said to me recently.
Like it’s a thing that you are lucky enough to be born with. Something that can be big or small, present or not. In your DNA.
Newsflash. It’s not your willpower. It’s you.
When we think that is it our willpower that is driving us, we surrender control. We other it.
It’s not me don’t you know. It’s my willpower. It is a cognitive convenience.
Instead of willpower, think instead about choice.
If you eat the chocolate, it isn’t because you have no willpower, some malign force conspiring against you.
It is because you choose to eat it.
Only by owning our choices and recognising that they are ours and that we do have control over them, can we truly take responsibility.
It starts with you.
What are your daily wellbeing practices?
This question appeared in my twitter timeline this morning. The tweet has long gone….. the thought remains.
I aim to do something that contributes to my wellbeing every day. It’s a deliberate thing for me; it helps me focus, keep it top of mind.
Wherever possible, that daily practice is about exercise, because this is the thing that for me, more than everything else, makes me feel awesome. Exercise contributes not only to my physical health but my mental health too.
This might be a class, some weights, a run or a bike ride. It’s the movement that matters. When work or life stuff gets in the way, I will replace exercise with something else. Get my steps in, walk rather than getting the bus, make some healthy eating choices, have a long hot soak in the bath (posh bath oils, of course).
Self-care isn’t selfish. I am responsible for my wellbeing. Me. No-one else. It shouldn’t be something that I do when I think about it or when I can find the time. Wellbeing needs to be deliberate. It needs to be a practice and a priority.
What are your daily practices?
And if you don’t have any….. maybe it’s time to begin.