When it comes to creating greater wellness in your life, routine is the name of the game. That doesn’t mean inflexibility or inability to pivot when the demands of job or life dictate a shift, but it’s a general guide with some clear boundaries and commitments to yourself that you can work into your schedule to support certain aspects and activities that nourish your life’s energy.
The critical element here is protecting the time we need to literally fill our energy cup in specific ways, knowing that we’ll be better employees for it. Consider that it’s in a company’s best interest to invest in their current employees – it costs far more to hire a revolving door of burned out people, so remember that you’re a valuable asset that is worth investing in and supporting. As such, for your own needs of balance and happiness, and your company’s need for your sustainability, protecting the time it requires to ensure the development of your well-being has a truly symbiotic benefit in the context of business.
So what might a “well-inteded” week look like? First, you must consider and prioritize the most critical elements that drive your mental and physical well-being and productivity. I have outlined my top 5 below rooted in scientific research and, perhaps, what provides the greatest “bang for your buck” when working to improve quality of life and performance. These elements should not be optional or subverted by work demands in your week:
- Nutrition for energy, mental processing, and immunity. Focusing on healthy, unprocessed whole foods – primarily plant-based with some quality protein at each meal along-side clean water for critical hydration, is the baseline for proper dietary guidance. Meanwhile, it is recommended that you sit (rather than eat on the go), chew, and eat peacefully and mindfully for your gut to properly digest and assimilate the nutrients required for your mental and physical wellness. Your gut is your “second brain” which regulates a variety of critical bodily functions including your brain functioning that cannot be taken for granted. Remember, your next big idea just may come from that (organic) kale salad!
- Sleep for restoration, physical repair, digestion, cell reproduction, and immunity. Adults require 7-9 hours per night (which can’t be caught-up on at a later date) and 13-23% of it must be deep sleep in order for your next day’s readiness to be optimally achieved. Being prideful that you only require 4-6 hours sleep (or being forced into that by your job) is not an achievement…data and science simply does not support that this is the way to operate as a regular habit if optimal performance is your personal goal.
- Self-care and Gratitude time for mental processing, idea generation, cortisol (stress hormone) management, inflammation reduction, immunity boosting, improved sleep and better heart health. This is a necessity not an indulgence in today’s professional environment. You simply can’t pour from an empty cup, and happiness doesn’t exist without gratitude. Grateful people enjoy stronger relationships and are more likely to be optimistic, inspired and empathetic. You tell me what best-in-class company isn’t looking for THAT in their employees?
- Movement for stress management, mental health and processing, heart health, insulin management (critical in a sugar-assaulted world), weight management and more. Based on your current level of adrenal load, some kinds of exercise may be better for you than others. Find what makes you feel great, keep it fresh, use technology to keep yourself accountable, try to schedule cardio or vigorous exercise on the earlier side of your day so it doesn’t interrupt sleep, while strength training later in the day is likely ok. The longest-living people in the world like the Seventh Day Adventists in CA or the Amish throughout North America simply incorporate walking and time in nature as a part of their lifestyle – if you do nothing else, get those 10,000 steps a day!
- Relationship & Community time. A sense of connection breeds health and happiness. Spend genuine, non-technology time in the physical presence of others – exchanging ideas, providing care and support to friends or strangers, and plenty of laughter. Volunteer. Gather in your spiritual community. Host a “favorite things for under $10” party with friends or neighbors. Keep it simple yet routine.
As some general direction, here’s how that might look in any given week:
Remember, this is simply a guide – everyone has different work demands and personal schedule. The need for flexibility is inherent in today’s frenetic work environment and our busy lifestyle, but perhaps, this gives you an idea of how you might think about blocking time that works for you yet ensures your health and well-being are being appropriately prioritized. This is what best-in-class professionals and organizations must consider to ensure their balance, happiness and sustainability are achieved. After all, that is the real definition of success.