Tag Archives: Mental Health

In 1995 I went to study abroad in Tasmania, Australia. Naturally, my friends and I wanted to learn diving during our holidays. We went up to the Great Barrier Reef and learnt to dive. Needless to say diving is to date one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Under water I am at peace with the world and the fish schools amaze me. Fishes can also be quite funny or annoyed. They have feelings and they collaborate in their schools. They are a bit like the modern global professionals. I hope you are a diver and can relate to the feeling of a deep dive early morning (before 6 am) where everyone is getting up and quirky. Where you feel happy because of creation and the miracles the world entails, where you are just in the moment – an observer and yet part of it all. If you are a diver you also know about the security stop. You and your diving buddy take a rest before the final ascent. For the non-divers this is done because of nitrogen and time you need to get it out of your system.
I took a security stop this year, a very short holiday to Dubai. I haven’t posted it on Facebook because I did not want to meet anyone. I wanted to be alone with one of my long-term buddies, my best friend and we talked a lot. We allowed ourselves to let some of the dirt out of our system. The dirt that collects there when you take more in than you let out. The dirt of critique, small failures, over-indulging and even worse pessimistic thinking. After a few days we felt like human beings again. Productivity is great and I like to get stuff done and tick off checklists and write down how much I have achieved during a day, but once in a while, you need to allow yourself a break from performing.

 

Sometimes it is helpful not to have an agenda.  A week to be yourself without access to a laptop and limited online time gives you back the feeling of your body, maybe you recognize all the slack that you caught there over the year. My friend returned to the office and was welcomed with a promotion. My body decided to go into standby completely with a flu. Let’s say I did not achieve a lot in December. When I showed up at my family’s home on Christmas eve I was calm and for a few days I could just give my family members the attention they deserve. Isn’t that why we are alive? To love?

This time of the year we easily get the flu and feel under the weather. While your body needs to accept these attacks once in while it might not always be connected to the weather only. The end of winter is also a time of transition where we often notice that we did not follow through with all the resolutions we had when we started the year. Sometimes we might still struggle with our holiday weight or the lack of exercise. Sometimes we wish we drank less alcohol or spend less money on stuff we don’t really need. Sometimes we wish our dating life was better or that we had found a companion in life.

 

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High performance results from a mix of feeling healthy as well as being emotionally stable.

You need to work with your body as if it was a team member. Too many clients I know have physical limitations that seem to stop them from a fully satisfied life. In my personal experience I know that I could not rely on my body in a time of high-stress almost 10 years ago. Like most junior managers I thought I own the world and that nothing could stop me but in that year I changed my job, flew to New York, got married, went on honeymoon and around three weeks later my disk slipped in the lower back. I had to be in the hospital and then at home for three weeks altogether and I hated it. I was so immobile and unhappy that I never wanted to have this experience again.

This incident might be one of the reasons why I became an executive coach because many times I see colleagues as well who just seem to believe that their body will handle and tolerate everything. Until they are diagnosed with burnout or cancer or they have a heart attack or high blood pressure. Another common thread that I recognize also among highly intelligent clients is a tendency to avoid intimate relationships because they could fall apart.

Many managers do not seek help unless a doctor tells them that it is time to change behavior. Imagine you had an “oldtimer” (vintage car). Would you wait until the garage repair person told you to come for check up or would you take the car to a regular check up to make sure it does not rust? Some of us treat their cars better than their bodies. Frankly speaking, I used to to be like that until I had my three week unintentional break. Since then I have become a lot better at prioritizing health.

Your health might not feel urgent to you just yet.

Could it be that your body  gives you signs that you need to change “something” in your life?

If you read the signs correctly you have three choices:

1) You can ignore this and move on until you have a bigger issue.

2) You can take it seriously as a sign that you need to have a medical check up or

3) You can go and seek an executive coach who can help you analyze where you are overburdened and how you can work better with your existing resources.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions about your physical and mental health.

Thank you.

Angie

Read more about how to stay healthy and get productive by ordering Michael Hyatt‘s ebook “Shave 10 hours off your workweek.” It’s a free resource I can highly recommend.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@angieweinberger”]Tip of the week: Take a walk every day. #manageyourenergy[/tweetthis]

Take A Walk

You take your phone out as soon as you sit on the train. You skim through your email. Another attachment fail. You forgot to save the legal document before you attached it. Your colleague across the ocean is confused. After three emails you clear the confusion. You clarify your ask to her and apologize. You know you must come across stressed. Even though you know that you have worked at higher stress levels in your life, you know that there is a nagging voice inside you that screams “I need a holiday.” You wonder how this happened as it seems your last holiday was only four weeks back. Could the issue be deeper you ask yourself? Is something wrong with me? Do I need therapy?
 
Then you become aware of all the bullshit that  you need to handle every day in your job. It is not the job itself. You love your work. It is not the team. You have shared your vision, mission, brand and values with your team. They follow you eagerly because they see a brighter future with you. Your team buys into your cause and wants you to succeed but the politics in the management team have become unbearable. The blame-storm that follows every client issue and the loss of ground with your big clients have made you look bad. You are concerned about losing your job, not performing well and not delivering what you promised to deliver. Your wife looks at you for support with the children. Your daughter has behaved difficult lately. She needs your guidance. You want to support but you feel drained on every corner of your life. 
 
You had started a hobby about a year ago because a friend advised you to do “something for yourself”. In the beginning you were so thrilled about the new friends you made there but now it just feels like another obligation, another point on your task list of never-ending topics.
 
You snap when friends ask you if you want to go out for a beer and your mother’s voice is in your head. “You said you would come for a visit with the children on Sunday.” And there is this mortgage on the house that needs refinancing.
 
In short: You feel the weight of responsibility of being the provider. You feel that weight in your shoulders and your back. You identify with it through pain.

 

Stress written all over your body?

 
Many of us have stress written all over their body. Even though you will find a lot of methods of reducing stress when you look online many of us have issues to focus nowadays. There are too many distractions that pull us into different directions every minute. We also have too many “shoulds”. We should go to the gym more often, we should recycle the bottles, we should save money. Our mind spends a lot of time thinking about the “shoulds”. Here are the three quickies to get in control again.

1) Take one hour out of your busy schedule and consult a therapist

Sometimes we feel like we have tried everything possible to please everyone else but lost ourselves in the process. It helps in such situations to consult a therapist. Sometimes you might not really need therapy but in most cases you will. I am a fan of prevention and I know that we can improve our physical symptoms if we seek support early enough. Unfortunately in my experience, many managers look for external support when it is too late as they are stuck in an ideal of playing superhero. Alternatively, they are sent to a business coach. A serious coach should send you to a therapist or doctor as soon as you cannot confirm anymore that you feel psychologically and physically healthy. And some of you might seek a doctor before they seek a therapist, because you do not believe that your psyche could play tricks on you. It’s up to you! Do something about it before your family loses you for good.
 

2) Go for light exercise rather than the gym such as a daily walk outside

If you feel stressed but still in control it can help to prescribe yourself a daily dose of light exercise such as a 20 minute walk. I have written about getting healthy earlier in this post about my favorite productivity hacks. Be sure that you don’t distract yourself with your phone when you go for a walk. Build the walk into a routine such as your commute to work or your coffee run in the morning.
 

3) Clean up your workspace daily and mono-task

It sounds simple but is a commonly known ZEN practice. You can get rid of the constant distractions by developing a regular routine of cleaning up and only working on one topic at the time. The stream of information you are letting in can be directed in the right channel. One example: If you think I should file my documents do it the same day. Spend five minutes every evening before you rush home to clean up your desk. Throw away everything that you don’t need. Before you start your workday write down your top three priorities for the day.
 
Let me know how you handle stress in the comments.