Keep the spring in your step!

Frank Hutton

It can be all too easy to forget that your body, while amazing, is not infinitely resourceful. We all need food, sleep and space for our brains to process things. So when you're working, trying to find a new job and looking after family, passions, interests and chores, how do you find time for you...?

Recognise the signs

Your body is quite good at letting you know something’s wrong. Are you waking up a few hours into your sleep? Are you finding it difficult to concentrate? Are you craving more sugar/chocolate/alcohol than usual? Are you perhaps a little more irritable with your spouse/children/colleagues/postman than normal? Any interesting rashes appeared? Dry skin? Or feeling of general tiredness?   All these things could be due to other circumstances of course and if you’re not feeling well visit your GP. But if you are operating at full tilt on all fronts and there are some unusual things happening in your life, it’s quite likely you need to give your body a break. 

Make time

Efficiency isn't all about hurtling at everything at 100 miles per hour. It’s about doing the right things at the right time in the most effective way. Taking time out to ensure you are fit and well makes sense as you will be able to:

  • Get more done, more quickly
  • Get better things done
  • Have more ideas and be more creative
  • Be much better at interview
  • Be the kind of colleague everyone wants
  • Be the kind of spouse/parent you want to be

So putting time aside for exercise, proper eating, rest for your body and for your mind is a valuable investment which will be repaid in all the other important areas that you care about.

Schedule them in your diary. Tell people you won't be available at certain times. Get into helpful routines so that these things become part of your life.

Keep it simple

Making time for you to process things and relax can be as simple as ensuring you take a walk every day. Just 30 minutes is all you need. It will lower your blood pressure (especially if you are somewhere green - this is science not just conjecture!). It will improve your thinking. It will improve your health! Maybe just park the car a little further from the office. Perhaps it’s a great way to start your day.

Taking regular breaks at work really helps - we tend to operate in 90 minute cycles, and going past this reduces our effectiveness. You may not be in a position to control your working pattern, but do take breaks when you get them. Or at least get out of a chair and walk somewhere - do something different - make a coffee/tea/water(!) - go and speak with a colleague. Plug into some relaxing music for 10 minutes. If you like being with people, go and hang out in the team room for a moment.

If you are in the ultimate position to control things and seem to be experiencing sleep or tiredness problems, grab a nap. You will have heard that 10 minutes makes a difference - its true. It’s not weakness, its simply working with your body in the way that it was made to operate.

You probably know what you need to do

We are all different. And one’s person’s relaxation is another’s nightmare. In short, you need to ensure you 

  1. Eat well: fresh fruit/veg, quality non-processed food, less sugar, less alcohol (the world’s alcohol consumption actually dramatically fell last year!)
  2. Sleep properly (we generally need between 7-8 hours per 24 hours - some a little more, some a little less)
  3. Get exercise (it doesn't have to be a gym or expensive - find something that makes you ‘feel good’ mentally as well as physically)

Make a plan for it to happen, write it down, tell someone about it (probably not your spouse/partner) and allow them to hold you accountable.

Just do it!