I had the privilege this week of facilitating a program for leaders in eastern NC working to improve the overall health and wellness in their communities. These folks are so inspiring. The challenges they face are deep and complex and remind me of the importance of ensuring that our leaders are equipped with skills and resources to do their impactful work.
One of the exercises we completed together was around managing your energy, based on a Harvard Business Review article by the same title. The premise is to manage your energy, not your time. Our lives are so full and demanding, with work, family, and community obligations. Self care – if we think of it at all, often gets minimal if any priority at all. It can stretch us to our breaking point.
My favorite take aways from the article are:
- Work smarter, not harder. Resist the seductive allure of putting in more hours to get ahead. This can be a short term strategy on occasion but becomes unhealthy if sustained over time.
- Time is a finite resource. Energy is a different story. Energy comes from four main wellsprings within us: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In each, energy can be expanded and renewed by establishing and practicing specific rituals.
- Organizations need to shift their emphasis from getting more out of people to investing more in them, so they are motivated – and able – to bring more of themselves to work every day.
- Recognize the costs of your energy depleting behaviors and take personal responsibility for changing them. All it takes is beginning to implement simple practices one step at a time.
My group of participants came up with a few best practices in each area. The list was so good, I wanted to share it with you. I hope you find some good ideas for yourself and add more of your own!
- Be in nature
- Play music
- Keep things in perspective
- Let your light shine
- Express gratitude…often
- Enjoy the moment(s)
- Laugh (especially at yourself)
- Stay away from negative people.
- Follow your passion
- Forgive and move on
- Avoid toxic situations
- Play music
- Practice yoga
- Call friends, family, confidants
- Eat ice cream
- Drink vino…especially with a good friend
- Discern which battles are worth fighting
- Take a long, relaxing drive
- Walk, run
- Listen to inspirational words, messages
- Practice deep breathing
- Use essential oils
- Hold a baby / pet
- Watch TV that inspires and relaxes you (Oprah, Undercover Boss, etc)
- Do relaxation exercises
- Close your eyes and imagine your favorite place (take a brief mental vacation)
- At work, close your door and relax for 15-20 mins
- Take a mental health day
- Listen to your favorite music
- Stop the cycle – interrupt the process
- Retail therapy
- Pedicure – spa day
- Do something for someone else
- Spend time w/ people who cheer you
- Practice yoga
- Work out regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Take on a project that excites you
- Eat well
- Connect with a hobby
- Get outside
- Spend time with family
- Enjoy an adult beverage…especially with a friend
- Drink H2O
- Limit sugar intake
- Train for something, like a triathlon
- Get active! Run, bike, sail, surf, wake board
- Walk daily
- “Break the fast” – start your day with a healthy meal to fuel you
- Read for enjoyment
- Spend time with pets
About Jeanie Duncan: Jeanie is President of Raven Consulting Group, a business she founded that focuses on organizational change and leadership development in the nonprofit sector. She is a senior consultant for Raffa, a national firm working with nonprofit clients to lead efforts in sustainability and succession planning, executive transition and search. Additionally, Jeanie serves as adjunct faculty for the Center for Creative Leadership, a top-ranked, global provider of executive leadership education.