As we start off a new year, many people make resolutions to work out and exercise more. But how about thinking of our mental health and wellness and make it a point to make some lifestyle changes? TNJ.com asked a few experts and we came up with 10 wellness tips for busy professionals.
It is important for busy professionals to take care of their physical and mental health to maintain a balanced lifestyle and to avoid burn-out at work. On a daily basis, I would recommend practicing a mindfulness activity. For example, when going out for your morning coffee, take five minutes or so to people-watch or observe nature. Be fully present and notice the people around you. Are they in a hurry, laughing, or engaged in some activity? Think about what it may be like to walk in their shoes for a moment. Do you see a bird in a nest? What color is the bird? What is it doing? This simple activity will help you to recognize how big the world is and how you are a part of a much larger picture. You can then return to the task at hand with a new sense of purpose, explains Health and Wellness Coach Tina M. Baxter.
1. Tone it down on the technology. Technology holds an important place in our modern society. However, the amount of time we spend on technology is astonishing and can impact us socially and psychologically. While technology can provide a nice escape from life stressors (e.g., Netflix binges and Instagram surfing), our attachment to technology can also breed isolation, says wellness expert Chinwe Williams, an associate professor at Argosy University, Atlanta. Additionally, taking a break from technology is a great way to give your brain some much- needed down time allowing creativity to flow in. Intentional disengagement from your smartphone may lead to intentional and meaningful engagement with others.
2. Take a hike. You need to move your body. Thanks to cognitive neuroscience, we know that physical health is a key component of mental health. The mind and body is not just connected but deeply intertwined. Our bodies immediately respond to the way we think, feel, and behave. Movement-based practices have been shown to boost endorphins, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, says Williams. Physical activity can also help clear your head of thoughts, making room for sharper focus. Whether your New Year’s resolution involves starting a new hobby, losing a few pounds or enhancing your overall health, try to commit to brief, but regular, exercise practices. Yoga, Zumba or hiking are just a few activities that can calm your mind and your body.
3. Nurture important relationships. Relationships need maintenance, just like anything else. The importance of spending quality time with close friends and family members cannot be overestimated. While there are a dozen technological ways to connect with friends, theres nothing like real face time, specifically sharing the same space and breathing the same air as another human being. Small gestures build strong connections. Plan to spend time with loved ones on a routine basis just to unwind, laugh, and have some old-fashioned fun, says Williams.
4. Be kind to yourself. Whatever your resolutions are for the New Year, remember to be kind to yourself. Tackling a new challenge is not always easy. The road to progress is pebbled with ups and downs and frequent setbacks. Setting extremely high or unrealistic expectations for yourself increases the likelihood that you may not meet them, which can reinforce feelings of shame or self-doubt. Don’t beat yourself up! The key to optimizing efforts toward any goal is to remain persistent, recognize your accomplishments-no matter how small, and to be patient with yourself, says Williams.
5. Take time off. We know you have a ton of work to do, but sometimes you have to take a break…and this will actually make you more productive. On a more long-term basis, busy professionals should remember to take their vacations, even if it is a mini three-day weekend and unplug, notes Baxter. Do something that recharges your batteries and leave work until Monday. Trust me, it will still be there. For example, do you like massages? Set up a day at the spa with the girls for massages and pedicures. You get the benefit of the massage and you spend time connecting with your friends. Maintaining healthy relationships is important for your mental wellbeing.
6. Walk taller: Yes, your posture matters. Taking quick posture checks throughout the day will help cultivate awareness and create good movement habits (sitting, standing, walking), explains Michael Romano, functional fitness expert and co-founder of Longevity Personal Fitness a personal training studio.
7. Make time during the day for yourself. Take at least 20-30 minutes each day to get alone and get quiet with your thoughts each day, advises Steve Siebold, a psychological performance coach and author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class. This is something you can do in the morning, on your lunchbreak, or even at the end of the day. You can sit quietly in a dimly lit room, take a hot bath, sit on a bench in the park, paint, listen to soft and soothing music or whatever truly relaxes you. The idea is to get away from the noise and hustle and bustle of your daily routine.?
8. Laugh more: Yes, laugh more. Resolve to laugh twice as often as you did last year. Laughing has many positive effects on the body and brain, and it shows others that you dont take yourself too seriously, Siebold points out.
9. Be a kid again, at least for a little while. Spend at least 15 minutes per week coloring or doodling and/or listening to music. These creative and fun activities increase your ability to focus, enhance your creativity and reduce stress. These mindful activities are now being prescribed by doctors and therapists for relaxation and even pain relief. Local libraries host coloring groups weekly or monthly where adults can have a play date with their inner child, suggests Barbara Schiffman, certified hypnotherapist, life balance coach and author of “Living in Balance for Boomers.”
10. Practice gratitude: Realize your blessings. By practicing gratitude, you can change your relationship to your goals and progress, and it will feel less daunting. For example, gratitude allows you to change your perception from I have to wake up and do xyz to I get to wake up and do xyz, explains Jamie Price, emotional wellness expert and co-founder of Stop, Breathe & Think. It also helps when you may not meet your goals, so if your resolution is related to exercise for example, instead of thinking I only had time for half my workout. Too bad, you might instead think I got out there and broke a sweat, and Im grateful to have had the chance to do so. When you shift into a more positive perspective, you increase the positive effect of your efforts, and will find more energy and enthusiasm for maintaining your commitment to your resolutions.