Even some simple changes in our everyday life and routine can make a profound difference to our performance and allow us to get more out of work and life generally. Taking care to do more things that boost serotonin and endorphins (our natural feel-good chemicals) will promote a better and more stable mood and help us to cope better in difficult times. In contrast, doing things that produce stress hormones will undermine mood and prevent us from performing well and getting the best from what we do.
Here are the main recommendations:
Relaxation: A person can’t feel anxious, angry (or depressed) and relaxed at the same time, so learning ways of relaxing physically and mentally helps to increase feelings of calm, confidence and security. Harnessing our innate powers of imagination to rehearse positive changes in our lives is one of the most effective ways of improving our lives.
Physical exercise: This is particularly good for promoting the production of our natural feel-good chemicals. Even a short, say 30-minute, walk a few days a week will help, whether at lunchtime or on the way to or from work.
Healthy and regular nutrition: There is a significant connection between food and mood, especially keeping blood sugar levels stable – what’s more, coffee, smoking and more than a couple of glasses of alcohol all increase stress levels.
Good sleep routine: Sleep has two stages – slow wave sleep, which restores and repairs us physically, and dream sleep, which de-stresses us emotionally. Maintaining a good sleep routine rejuvenates us both physically and emotionally.
Challenge negative thoughts and all-or-nothing thinking styles: We are at our best when we stand back and observe ourselves and our lives objectively and fairly. We need to use our innate skills to calm ourselves in stressful conditions so that we are better able to see things in perspective and avoid the distortion which high levels of emotion produce. Because what we focus on is what we get, it is best to focus on what is positive for us and to build positive expectations. We can only realistically expect to change something when we have a genuine influence over the outcome, and we need to develop a healthy and robust approach to what can’t be changed. Dwelling on problems and worrying without effective problem-solving skills are two of the greatest producers of stress hormones. Worrying guzzles our natural feel-good chemicals and this often results in disturbed sleep.
It is important to have clear goals and to use (or improve) our time management, communication, problem-solving and assertiveness skills effectively. We can also learn to be more compassionate with ourselves and take care to value ourselves and our core standards.
Drawing on a wide variety of things to meet your basic needs outside work: A family, partner, friends, social life, leisure time or anything else which gives you a sense of meaning or purpose in addition to work. Be sure you are receiving and giving enough attention, getting enough privacy, and finding a sense of achievement and enjoyment in at least one other part of your life outside work. Have at least one person in your life who accepts you completely for who you are.