Can you believe it’s mid-October already? We’re in the home stretch of 2016 now, which means a final push at work before the holidays and then weeks of celebrations and activities that can be both fulfilling and exhausting.
It’s time to think about maintaining or even boosting your energy for the rest of the year. No one wants to feel drained and burned out a few weeks from now when they’re supposed to be filled with holiday cheer. But that can happen when you constantly push yourself without taking time to refill your tank. As high performers, we can easily fall into this trap.
You probably already know what helps you stay centered and energized. The trick is integrating those healthy practices into your busy life. Here are a few ideas that can help you get there.
How many conversations have you had with co-workers lately about how little sleep you’re all getting — or how much coffee you need to get through the day? That’s not a badge of honor. A lack of sleep decimates your productivity. The CDC has even declared that widespread sleep deprivation is a public health problem. What one step can you take today to give yourself more time for some much-needed rest? How about getting to bed 15 minutes earlier tonight or putting your technology away sooner so your mind can unwind from the day (and you can get more restful sleep)?
Get Moving (Even a Little)
If you’re tempted to skip your workout when things get busy, remember that exercise is the best thing you can do for your brain. When you keep your body moving, you’re more creative and confident, you learn faster and you get sick less often. If you’re an “all or nothing” perfectionist about exercise, cut yourself some slack. Yes, your week might be too busy to fit in a long workout or your usual number of runs or exercise classes, but most people can carve out 10-15 minutes for some physical activity. And even a few minutes of exercise can have real benefits. Just get started.
Tap into the Power of a Pause
We’re always doing — but when’s the last time you paused just to be? You’ve probably read about all the benefits of meditation, including reduced stress and a stronger immune system. You may also be assuming, though, that meditation will never fit it into your tight schedule. But, as with exercise, every little bit helps when it comes to mindfulness. One of my favorite tools to get centered and bring myself back to the present moment is diaphragmatic breathing: Inhale to a count of 3, exhale to a count of 6. You should feel your belly rising when you breathe, not your chest. This simple practice is enough to trigger your body’s relaxation response, and you can even do it in meetings without sounding like Darth Vader!
Experience Nature’s Magic
It’s amazing what a few brief minutes outside to appreciate the nature’s beauty can do for your stress level. Researchers have found that walking in nature protects us from depression by helping us stop obsessing about whatever’s bothering us. A nature break also helps us focus when we do go back to our work. So find a good spot and take a 10-minute stroll to give your productivity an energy boost. If you absolutely can’t get away from your desk, even looking at photos of nature can reduce your stress.
This week, identify one action you’d like to take – whether it’s implementing one of these strategies or one that has worked well for you in the past. You should see results quickly. For more ideas on how to thrive personally and professionally, check out my book “Show Up. Step Up. Step Out.” You can download five free chapters now.