Spring is finally here, which means we can hopefully start folding up the blankets and putting away the jumpers. If you made it through winter without getting ill, virtual high-five to you – that’s awesome! If you didn’t, it’s means your immune system was depleted and not able to fight off common everyday bugs. Which also means you were, or are, probably stressed and have too much cortisol pumping through your body. Ultimately, if we’re going to be really honest here, you’re probably not practicing self-care either. Sound familiar?
Yes, I know – who has time to stop and think about themselves these days? We hear it all the time, “I don’t have time to, there is just too much to do.” Well, I’m here to tell you a lot of people have time. And those people are the high performers out there kicking goals all over the place… because they don’t get sick. They not only make time for self-care, they make it a priority.
Think about it this way, what if you got really sick? If you got really sick and couldn’t work for a month, or even a year – what would happen to your business or job? Would it be worth getting really sick over?
Self-care isn’t selfish, its intelligence
On a flight, there is a reason you are advised to affix your own oxygen mask first in the event of an emergency before helping others. After all, you’re no good to anyone unconscious, or worse still, dead! So, if this is common practice for emergency situations, why don’t we adhere to it in life in general? If you are not performing at 100% in any facet of your life, don’t you owe it to those around you to take care of yourself first in order to serve them better?
Stress is responsible for over 90% of illnesses. When we are stressed, our amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for the Fight, Flight or Freeze response) releases cortisol throughout our bodies. When left in the body for long periods of time, this becomes toxic to our system and starts to deplete our immune system. When your immune system is down, your body’s ability to fight even the common cold is reduced if not totally incapacitated. You run yourself down so much with stress that your body eventually gives in, you get a cold and then BANG! You’re having a day, a week, a month off work. Not really the aspirational lifestyle, is it?
We speak to a lot of professionals, business people etc. who all say the same thing, they want to inspire their clients, their teams, their family and friends to live life to the fullest. To take advantage of the opportunities in front of them and create a life they are satisfied with. This is a great vision to aspire to, everyone has a different view and definition of success and the dream life, so it’s no surprise we all want that in some shape. How, though, can you inspire someone else to make a change if you yourself aren’t living to your fullest potential? How often do you put things off, say you don’t have time, feel exhausted, rush through meetings, conversations, don’t really listen to what the person you are interacting with is saying, and so on. The list goes on.
Is it really possible?
We talk a lot about high performance being sustainable. True high performance, where you continually grow, perform and out-perform on an ongoing basis, must be sustainable to be achieved. You think about when an athlete retires from competition, what generally happens? They stop training, start eating and gain weight. Are they in true high performance mode then? No. Could they get back there? Absolutely. Would they need to give up their partying ways? Definitely. In business then, what do we need to give up in order to have true sustainable high performance? Potentially some partying ways too, but most definitely our need to push through when our energy is drained.
Thanks to neuroscience, we now know no two brains are built the same. We also know that having the belief that you just keep pushing harder and harder to justify your existence isn’t productive either. So, working to your natural pace, recovering when required, and managing your energy according to your pace is key to sustainable high performance.
Back to my original point, then – is it possible to get through winter without getting sick? Yes, absolutely. And if you didn’t, we should talk.