Fit Some Walking Into Your Day

You don’t have to run. But you do have to exercise a little every week. You will find lots of exercise advice on the internet, but the official recommendations are really simple: 150 minutes of moderate exercise like walking or cycling or 75 minutes of running or similar.  

You can easily fit 150 minutes of walking into your week in 15-minute intervals. Get off the bus or train a little before your destination and walk for 15 minutes. If you do that on the way to work and on the way home, that gives you 30 minutes each workday. If you are in the office five days a week, that adds up to 150 minutes 

If you are working from home, walk to work anyway. That means taking a 15-minute walk around the block when you start your workday, and another 15-minute walk when you end it. That has the added benefit of setting boundaries around your work time. The first walk can put you into focused “work mode”, and the second walk can allow your mind to change from work to relaxation. 

Reprogram Your Brain

Are you using your brain right? The human brain has two thinking systems: A fast system and a slow system. The slow system is for carefully considering situations, and it uses a lot of energy. The fast system provides quick answers in routine situations and uses much less energy.

Our brains have evolved over thousands of years to automatically select which system to use. In every situation, the fast system gets the first try. In 98% of all cases, the fast system comes up with what it thinks is a good answer, and doesn’t even ask the slow system.

Fortunately, you can use the slow system to re-program the fast system. To change your behavior, think about a situation in advance and tell yourself what you want to happen. Your fast system might automatically say yes when your boss asks you to do one more thing today. Tell yourself that next time, you will say that you will do the task tomorrow. Simply stating your goal tells your fast thinking system that the automatic response is no longer the right answer.

Talk Nicely to Yourself

How do you talk to yourself? When our actions lead to bad outcomes, we blame ourselves. That is OK if it leads us to reflect on our behavior and do better next time.

But the language we use when we blame ourselves is sometimes much worse than we would ever use with other people. If a colleague makes a mistake, we don’t call her stupid. But we might call ourselves stupid. Don’t do that. Talk to yourself at least as politely as you talk to others.

What Impossible Goals Could You Achieve?

Could you land a plane? Right now, sitting in your chair, you think it would be impossible. But if you were in the air and your pilot fell unconscious, you would be able to land the plane. A passenger with no flying experience found himself in that situation above Florida yesterday. With assistance from an air traffic controller, he successfully landed the small aircraft.

Many things we think are impossible really aren’t. Once we start, we find that we can do more than we thought. We find people who want to help us. We find resources that we didn’t realize existed. The challenge is to break free of our own limiting beliefs. To help yourself dream bigger, it is useful to ask the question “what would I do if I knew I could not fail?”

Once you have set a goal, take one small step towards it today. If you take no action today, you are not likely to take any action tomorrow. But if you take one small step today, you are likely to take another tomorrow. The difference between zero actions and one action is huge. Take that one action today.

You can read much more about setting and achieving goals in my book “Life after Bullying.” The tools in the book are general and can help anyone. Read more about the book here: https://www.lifeafterbullying.com/book/

Unchecked Power?

Does your boss at work have unchecked power? Over the centuries, we have learned that every power needs to be balanced by some other power. That’s why successful societies have split power between legislature, executive, and judiciary. That’s why companies have HR departments and maybe even whistleblower procedures.

Take a moment to think about how you would report bullying in your workplace. Are your anti-bullying measures effective, or do they exist only on paper? Do you believe somebody would take action? If you are not confident anybody would react, that is a red flag. It doesn’t mean there is bullying in your organization. But it means you cannot feel safe. That will affect your health and wellbeing. You might want to consider changing to another department or another company.

They Can Talk, But You Don’t Have to Listen

Free speech means people can say almost anything. It doesn’t mean you have to listen. Elon Musk has just bought Twitter and wants fewer restrictrions. That will make Twitter an even less welcoming place.

For your mental health and sanity, spend your time on social media in the well behaved corners of the internet. That means moderated groups on places like Facebook and LinkedIn. These groups have human administrators who will react if you report bullying.

Establish a Breathing Habit

How is your breathing? Now that I ask, you might be noticing it. But most of the time, your breathing just happens. Now decide to take deeper breaths. Notice how you feel calmer.

Breathing is interesting because there is a direct two-way connection between your breathing and your emotional state. Your stress level affects your breathing, but your breathing also affects your stress level.

To make sure you remember to take some time to breathe deeply, connect breathing with something you already do. Find some action you take several times a day, and take a few deep breaths before you do it. For example, whenever you pick up your coffee or tea mug for a refill, hold the mug while you take three deep breaths. Getting some good breathing into your life will reduce stress and improve your health.

Experiment on Yourself

Many people run science experiments on themselves. You should, too. I’m not talking about taking strange drugs you got from the internet. I am talking about making changes to your diet and tracking the outcome.

Science has shown that improved diet can have as much effect as the latest drugs from the pharmacy. This applies to everything from minor pain to serious depression. If you wish to improve your life, try an experiment.

The scientific method consists of establishing a baseline, making one change, and registering the result. For your own science, I recommend keeping a journal on paper or on your device. For one week, write down how you feel. That is your baseline – the point you compare to. Then make a simple diet change. You already know what a better diet looks like. For example, you can replace an unhealthy snack with nuts and raisins. Continue writing down how you feel. After a few weeks, examine your notes and see if you feel better than the baseline before you made the change. If you do, great! Keep the change. If you don’t feel any improvement, that doesn’t mean the experiment failed. It means the experiment was successful and you proved that this change was not right for you. Make another change and repeat the experiment.

A safe experiment is one where you change your diet, sleep, or lifestyle. Even if you feel much better, you DO NOT change any medication by yourself. Make some safe changes to your life. Your surprised doctor might then change your medication 😉

Dress for Success

Are you wearing the right clothes today? What you wear affects your mood. You can set your day on a good track when you stand in front of your closet in the morning.

Some people claim that specific colors affect our confidence and mood in predictable ways, but it’s not that simple. What matters is how you personally feel about the clothes you wear. While one person might feel great in bright, colorful clothes, another might feel best in solid earth tones.

When you pick up an item of clothing in the morning, close your eyes and spend a few seconds to experience the feeling this item gives you today. If it matches your goals and schedule for the day – energetic, creative, or relaxed – wear that piece. If it doesn’t, pick up another one. You can reach your goals easier with the right clothes.

Get a Dose of Nature Every Day

Like an apple a day, you also need a dose of nature every day. Exposure to natural surroundings is associated with a wide range of health benefits from decreased blood pressure to reduced risk of depression.

Interestingly, the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) of nature is really low. The MED is the least amount of something you can take to get the health benefit, and the pharma industry spends a lot of time calculating this. For nature exposure, you get most of the benefits from simply spending 15 minutes in natural surroundings, and it doesn’t have to in a wilderness far from everyone. If you live in an appartment far from parks, you can establish natural surroundings on your balcony with balcony planters or flower pots. If you don’t have a balcony, find some robust house plants and fit a lot of them into a corner of one room so you can sit there and get your shot of nature.

Nature is good for you. Make sure you get your daily dose.