zone-coaching

Archive for Executive Wellness

So busy working on your “dream” career that you aren’t taking time for your most important asset – your health?  You know what they say – if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything!  So why not create a business plan to do just that. Here are 9 foolproof steps to guide you on the journey.

BIG DREAM Process

  1. Collect your own data.

Start paying attention to what other business leaders are doing to stay healthy.  Schedule a coffee date and ask them these questions:

  • How did you decide to integrate health practices into your business?
  • What was the biggest challenge you faced?
  • How did you overcome this challenge?
  • What was the biggest surprise you found?
  • What is your life like now vs before?
  1. What do you love to do that is healthy for you?

Pay attention to all the things YOU love to do. Which ones would benefit your health? This could be a relaxation strategy, or a physical activity, or a modification in your work schedule – you decide! If this becomes pleasurable rather than a chore, you are more apt to continue doing it for the long haul.

  1. Visualize doing it on a regular basis

Make it real for yourself by thinking about what it would “feel” like to actually integrate this into your day.  Are you feeling better? Do you have an overwhelming feeling that this really fits into your day?  If you get positive feedback then how willing are you to give more time and attention to taking action on it?

  1. Identify Barriers

Create a document with two columns.  Label one column “Barriers that stop me from doing what I love”.  Now list all the barriers that stand in your way of doing this for the rest of your life. Be honest and list at least 10 reasons.  Now reflect on how you feel when you read this list.

  1. Identify Possibilities

On the same sheet with two columns, label the second column with “Possibilities that could happen if there were no barriers”.   Now re-word each statement in the left column from what you can’t have to what you can have.

Ex:  Barrier = I don’t have the time to do what I want.

Possibility = I have more than enough time to make happen whatever I want.

  1. Focus on Possibilities not Barriers

Now reflect on the list of possibilities and how does reading it make you feel?  Which list gives you a good feeling?  Throw the list of barriers away and post the list of possibilities in a prominent location where you see it every day and remind you of how good it would feel.

  1. Set Your Intention

Once you have done the prep work, you are ready to set your intention on manifesting what you want to happen in your life.  Write it down and include an “end date” when you will have launched yourself into your new direction toward optimal health.

  1. Practice Visualizing

It is fine to set an intention and determine when that will happen, but sometimes we give up on our dreams because we don’t keep the fire alive.  Schedule a regular time to practice visualizing your big dream daily or weekly.  Back it up by creating a DREAM BOARD that hangs prominently where you see it every day to keep that picture alive in your head.

  1. Keep an Evidence Journal

If you do all these things how will you know if it is paying off?  In a journal, record all the baby steps and progress you have made moving forward toward your goal.  Some things may seem insignificant, but when you add them all up a bigger picture emerges.  Reflect on this regularly to provide evidence that your Big Dream is actually starting to manifest.

And that is how you bring BIG Health DREAMS into REALITY.

 

Enjoy the process and be well on your Journey!

 

Self-Care BIZ Tips for BIZY People: C = Calming Your Busy Mind

I am a “busy business owner”, always on the move and always doing more than I need to.  An “energizer bunny”.  It seems to be a trait of many fellow business owners that we don’t want to slow down.  What I have noticed however is I get so busy “doing” that I don’t take enough time “being”.  And by doing all the time, I miss out on a lot of what is great about my work.  In an effort to correct that, I (sadly) have to schedule time on my calendar for relaxation and reflection – which is apparently what we have to do today to get any free time for ourselves.  As crazy as that seems, it actually works and is a great tool if you are looking for a way to build time into your day for YOU!  So pull out your calendars and create some space for you every day where you can REFLECT on all that is great about your life and what lies ahead.  Here are a few steps to follow.

R – Realize what is happening in the present moment

If you are either caught-up rehashing something in the past or projecting into the future, you have totally missed what is happening in the present moment.  And that is all we have! Take a breath, and pay attention to the “right now” time and what is in your mind.  Is it what you want to be thinking about?  Is it serving you well or making you stressed?  Is it negative or positive?  Right here – right now, think about something pleasant and stay with that thought, and your body and mind will thank you.

E – Escape from your current focus and take time out to think

Now that you have adjusted your thoughts toward positivity, stay there for awhile and think of all the things you are grateful for.  As you continue these thoughts, you might notice a smile creeping in on your face as you ponder what is great about you and your life.  How good does that feel?

F – Free yourself from distractions

If you are being challenged by this process in your present location, find a quiet and calm space.  Carve out a place that is free from distractions where you will not be disturbed.  Create your own getaway spot where you devote time for personal reflection and you feel good while you are there.  Just going into a room,  closing the door and asking not to be disturbed is the easiest way to accomplish this.

L – Let go of scattered thoughts

It may not be easy at first to “tame those obsessive negative thoughts” that keep popping into our heads all the time and distract us from our intention to focus on “good feeling” thoughts.  That is often because our minds are “over busy” – we have too much on our minds – which is a reflection of how busy our lives are.  So while you are in your quiet place with the intention of “quieting your mind”, know that when those thoughts creep in, just let them pass thru without spending time on them and return to your “happy thoughts” once again.

E – Enlist your imagination

Remember how fun it was to daydream and think of great things you could do and be?  We probably got in trouble at school because we weren’t paying attention –  but as a Stress Management Professional I now call it “visualization” and it’s a great relaxation tool we all need to cultivate.  When you set your imagination free to explore wonderful things, wonderful things can start materializing in your life.

C – Create a vision of your perfect life

Once you rekindle your ability to use your imagination, you can start creating a vision of what your perfect life might be.  Those thoughts are exciting  to explore as long as you allow them and don’t stop them.  One of my tendencies is to sabotage the process by coming up with all the reasons I can’t have or do something.  But in your imaginary world, you don’t have to add roadblocks to your perfect life.  All you need to do is put yourself in that life and enjoy it to the fullest.

T – Tend to your vision on a daily basis

Now this is the best part.  You get to become one with your perfect life every day.  Just take the time to go there and enjoy it thoroughly. And look at all these wonderful benefits – time out for yourself, relaxation,  enhanced positive attitude, less scattered thinking, feel better, enjoyment of setting intentions for a better life, surprising manifestations that are yet to be revealed.  Watch for them and be surprised when they happen!

So now it is your turn. Try to follow this process for a month and see what happens.  You might be surprised with the results and become a healthier business leader as well.  If you need support with this, feel free to contact me.

Have fun with this – and be well on your wellness journey.

Carol

How sharp is your brain and are you giving it the respect it deserves?  After all, without your brain you have nothing!  Just like you need a wellness program for your heart so you don’t have a heart attack, you also need a wellness program for your brain so you can keep working on all cylinders.

Just think about what your brain does for you every day:  paying attention, receiving and recognizing information, learning and remembering, communicating, solving problems, making decisions, supporting mobility and regulating emotions.  Are these not essential functions you can’t do without?

Here is something to consider.  The brain needs adequate blood flow to function optimally, and when blood flow is slowed or blocked—because the heart isn’t pumping properly or the arteries are filled with plaque—brain tissue can become damaged. Elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar can all impair blood vessels leading to the brain and can cause strokes or mini-strokes that can lead to subsequent cognitive decline, called vascular dementia. 1

A well-fed, rested, and oxygenated brain is necessary for mental resilience and peak performance amid stress and uncertainty. When all other things are equal, mental resilience is the factor that really distinguishes top leaders. 2

What this means is in order to keep your brain in top shape, you need to pay special attention to issues like nutrition and exercise to prevent high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars which can also lead you down the path to obesity and Diabetes.  In other words, you need a wellness plan for your brain, not just for your body. Here are two important first steps.

FOOD and your Brain. 

Our food system is killing us. In the U.S., more than 2/3 of the population is now overweight or obese, and heart disease and stroke are killing more than 700,000 people every year. The food you eat not only has a direct impact on your physical health but your brain health as well.

Here are some tips:

  1. Plan ahead for what you will eat each day so you don’t get caught eating foods that cause you to be sluggish.
  2. Keep healthy “low glycemic” snacks in your desk and car when you get busy and are hungry.
  3. Consider a Food Diary to keep track of how different foods affect your mood and mental sharpness.
  4. Create a list of healthy brain foods that work for you and keep them in stock.
  5. Reduce sugar intake as too much is harmful to the brain, inducing inflammation, oxidative stress and poor insulin regulation.
  6. Nourish your brain with a plant-based high antioxidant diet with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits which can improve memory, learning and overall cognitive performance.

EXERCISE and your brain.

Research shows that physical exercise enhances cognitive function. One reason might be because it increases of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that improves learning, memory and higher thinking by stimulating growth of new neurons and helping existing neurons stay alive. 3

People who exercise regularly and are physically fit have a much bigger hippocampus, which is your memory center. The more you walk, the bigger your hippocampus will get and the less you will be at risk for brain decline. One study showed that walking one mile a day lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 48%. 4, 5

If you are need a boost to get going, here is a simple plan to get yourself up and “walking” and building a new healthy brain habit.

Week 1:  Walk 3x/week for 10 mins

Week 2-7:  Increase the length of time you walk by 15 minutes each week until you reach 40 minutes

Maintenance:  Stay at 40 mins 3x/week

Surely you have a little time each day to walk, especially if it is a drug-free opportunity to sharpen your thinking.  Take charge of your brain health today, start making simple lifestyle choices related to food and exercise, and you can remain at the top of your game for as long as you desire.

  1. http://time.com/4931877/keep-brain-sharp-prevent-alzheimers/
  2. https://www.inc.com/leigh-buchanan/4-brain-superpowers-you-need-to-be-a-successful-leader.html
  3. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-21099/7-natural-ways-to-boost-your-brain-power-sharpen-your-mind.html
  4. https://sharpbrains.com/blog/2015/11/04/can-you-grow-your-hippocampus-yes-heres-how-and-why-it-matters/
  5. http://www.pcrm.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/infographics/infographic-alzheimers-prevention.pdf

 

Self Care BIZ Tips for BIZ-Y People: A = Awareness

Are you WELL  AWARE about what is going on with your health?  Sure I know you are ultra busy doing your daily to-do list, running from meeting to meeting, dealing with interruptions, putting out fires, eating out alot at lunch meetings, not always able to make healthy food choices, managing all your emails and social media, working longer hours than is humanly possible, missing out on family time, exhausted, never getting enough sleep, super stressed out – WHEW!  How do you keep it all in perspective so you don’t overdo?  Or have you already overdone?  And yes – your health and your career could be in jeopardy!

It’s time for some perspective on how you are living your life.  It’s time for some AWARENESS so you don’t crash and burn.  Here are some tips:

A – Allow time for yourself

Put ME TIME on your calendar every day.  If it’s not on the calendar it won’t happen. Before I fill up my week I schedule time for Jazzercise 3-4 times per week and that makes it more likely it will happen.  You may have to block out time for breaks and a “lunch hour” – yes, we used to give ourselves an hour for lunch, not 10 minutes to gulp down some fast food! You can also schedule an appointment on your calendar with yourself to do whatever helps you regroup and relax for a bit.

W –Weigh your priorities

What exactly is your goal for the day and how much time do you actually need to accomplish it?  Write it down and block out your calendar at the beginning of the day so when all the other distractions occur, you can better manage them by saying NO or delegating or making time on your calendar.  There is nothing more stressful than not getting something done you need to do before you go home, and then you either go home late to get it done, or you take it home and work on it in the evening during your family time. Not a great idea.

A – Act “AS IF” your life is manageable

The great thing about your brain is it responds to what you are thinking.  That can be bad if you are thinking everything is out of control, you’re frustrated all the time, you constantly use negative language –  your body then decides to open the flood gates to release stress hormones into your system and set you up for headaches, gut aches, all kinds of aches.  On the other hand if you think life is good, business is manageable, work is joyful, and only positive words come out of your mouth all day,  your brain can also be tricked into opening the flood gates to release “feel good” hormones and then you feel good and don’t have stress-related ailments.  So if you act “AS IF” all is well, then you will be well.

R – Reconnect with your true self

Who are you really, and are you fully expressing your true self in your work and home life?  If you are not being true to yourself, your body isn’t happy and you are setting  yourself up for stress once more.  If you are managing your own business, you must have started out believing that this is what you were meant to be doing – it was your destiny.  If it hasn’t worked out that way, then either it wasn’t your destiny, or you need to do some tweeking so the business reflects positively on you and your efforts and you don’t collapse and burn in the process. Take a day off to do some reflective work on whether this business is right – and HEALTHY – for you.

E – Engage with relaxation

When you are relaxed, there is no room in your body for a busy mind, stress, anxiety or sleeplessness.  Your body is calm and at peace and in a free and healthy state.  It is what your body wants and your mind can help you achieve this.  Do 10 slow deep breaths whenever you feel the stress building to activate your parasympathetic nervous system which is designed to calm you down. You can do this anywhere! Schedule relaxation breaks throughout the day and use techniques like tapping, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization of a calming place, or get some fresh air while taking a relaxing walk outside. Relaxation helps you create true awareness of how you are doing at any given time.  And it feels great too!

N – Notice how you feel in the present moment

The present moment is all we have and yet we often don’t stop and do a quick check on how you are doing.  You can set the timer on your computer, phone or watch to ping you as a reminder that it’s time to check in with YOURSELF.  Then do a quick body scan from head to toe to see if you are experiencing any stress, muscle tension, or pain and do some slow deep breathing to release the angst.   Also note your mental state.  Are you feeling negative or positive?  If you are feeling negative, say positive things like – today is a great day, I love being here, my colleagues are so fun to be with – or write positive words like, joy, peace, happiness, love.  These techniques will shift your mental state from negativity to positivity, and once again, your body will respond with less stress hormones and more relaxation.

E – Enjoy your life

Life – Balance should be your mantra.  If stress is the order of the day at work, then relaxation should be the balancing factor when you go home at night.    We don’t always make a transition from work to home and often carry the stress home with us.  Instead, use the drive-time going home to play enjoyable music or no radio at all. Look for great sights to appreciate like nature, a cool car you admire, kids playing – notice things that bring you joy.  Get out of your work clothes when you get home and put on comfy stuff that helps you complete the process of letting go of work.  Try not to bring work home if at all possible.

S – Sleep more

Most of us are exhausted!  Too much work and not enough rest will do that every time.  Getting enough sleep is crucial for what you need the most in your business –  cognitive functioning, good decision making, managing stress hormones, preventing weight gain and gut health problems and preventing mistakes.  Placing a value on 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is a challenge, but can be life-threatening if it doesn’t happen.  Add sleep to your priority list and schedule your bedtime and wake time so it has a place on your calendar.  After all, if it isn’t on the calendar it won’t happen.

S – Stay focused

A major challenge for any executive with multiple responsibilities and interruptions is to stay focused to accomplish what needs to be done. Keep as much structure in your day to stay on track.  When distractions occur, use triage thinking to minimize the impact.  Is it life threatening? Deal with it.  Can it wait? Schedule it into your calendar at your convenience.  Is it not appropriate for your attention?  Delegate it.

Hope these tips will create more awareness about how you can take back your life at work and at home.

Be Well on Your Journey

Carol