Mind your Body

Well, this is clearly becoming a marathon, isn’t it?

I’ve so appreciated the reminders from friends over the past few days that “hard is hard” regardless of your specific brand of struggle or disappointment or grief right now. We are all in the midst of a challenging season, and although the collective experience can buoy us up, it can also weigh us down.

Here is my encouragement to you: mind your body.

Please hear me when I say that this message is no way intended to add to your guilt or your already-heavy cognitive load. It’s actually about doing the opposite — making mental space by physically creating it.

I’m no doctor or neuroscientist, but I know that stress builds cortisol in our bodies and we need to cue our bodies to clear it out. Chronic stressors (such as a global pandemic perhaps?) mean that the build-up exceeds the release much of the time. We need to deliberately adjust that equation.

I first read about this concept in Burnout but it was brought home to me in two ways more recently:

  1. We know that our health is our bottom line. We cannot engage or contribute well without it. Existentially that’s true, but it’s also a corporate principle. For those of us working as sole practitioners, for example, our entire business is dependent on us functioning at our best. Wellness is therefore a business investment.
  2. My talented colleagues Dr. Amy Silver and Alessandra Edwards have just released a remarkable new resource called Brace for Impact — Surviving and Thriving in the Pandemic Era. They’ve written it out of their years of combined experience but also just within the last few weeks when Amy and her family have also been hit hard by COVID-19. These women know of what they speak! Their book reminds me that taking care of our own bodies and helping our teams be mind-body ready is one of the responsibilities of a leader.

No pressure here. I’m not suggesting you take up a new sport or beat yourself up for not maintaining an exercise routine. But I know that daily fresh air, sitting less, stretching more, moving our bodies, getting out in nature, having a good cry — these are all ways to acknowledge that stress is experienced physically and needs to be released physically.

This is not a to-do list — it’s a menu. And when I read it as a list of possible ways to invest in my business when my normal routines and workflows are disrupted right now, something shifts in a good way.

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