These are the essential wellness habits that separate high achievers from everyone else, even during the COVID-19 crisis.
A global crisis is happening. Infection rates are on the rise, the world economy is on the verge of its worst crisis since World War II, and all businesses are facing a period of uncertainty.
If you’re not a Tibetan monk or a Buddhist nun, chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed right now.
It feels like a lot because it is.
The truth is that no one knows how this will end or what our “new normal” will look like when it’s finally over.
For many, the uncertainty may be as unsettling as the virus itself. And on top of everything that is happening, there’s a part of our brain called the lateral prefrontal cortex that enables us to think, evaluate, organize, and plan our actions.
Because of the way our brains work, we feel anxious and insecure about what tomorrow will bring.
Will we contract the virus? Will we ever return to the “old normal” and resume our lives as they were before? It’s the not-knowing and living day-by-day that causes most people to struggle with things.
When faced with a crisis, the threat-detection part of our brain kicks in, and we are officially in survival mode. Unfortunately, during a pandemic, you need to be operating at full capacity and be at peak performance.
You need to shift from survival mode to thrive mode, so you can remain calm, make the right decisions, and turn bad times into an opportunity.
I believe that to be able to shift from survival mode to thrive mode; you need to focus on one powerful thing: wellness.
One of the things that stand in the way of many leaders’ success is the fact that they believe they’re too busy to ensure the quality of their health. They don’t think twice before putting wellness on the back burner.
For many people, self-care is often the first thing to go. Taking care of our health in a crisis seems like a luxury.
The defensive tendencies of their behavior come at great costs.
If you need more information to feel convinced, let me give you some data from my 20 years of working with high performers.
From my experience working with celebrities, CEOs of multi-million dollar organizations, and executives of Fortune 500s companies, I have noticed that the best ones value physical fitness as much as any other leadership skill.
Due to this insight, I have always believed that fitness forms the foundation for success in any area of your life. It’s a serious concept, and it’s especially true for high-performers during stressful times.
And if you’ve read till here, I am going to assume that you are ready to jump on the wellness bandwagon. So here are three wellness habits that are proven by science to help you achieve your highest potential.
Habit #1: Exercise
Recent studies have demonstrated that exercise provides many brain-boosting benefits, including greater creativity, a sharper memory, and a stronger ability to focus.
In times of pandemic, anything that can help you boost your focus and creative problem-solving should be a MUST DO.
Most executives are stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed in normal times and situations. Many leaders feel tremendous pressure to set an example for their teams, companies, and community.
That’s why exercise is a powerful habit. Studies have shown that exercise releases endorphins and catecholamines, which are “feel good” hormones that also help reduce stress and increase feelings of wellbeing.
The bottom line is that regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health right now.
How to get started?
After training hundreds of busy executives over the years, I’ve discovered that what we schedule is what gets done.
Schedule exercise time on your calendar and do it, even if it’s only 10 minutes of exercise, even if you don’t have a home gym.
The only thing you need is your body. During this time of pandemic is not the time to aim for “perfect” or personal bests. It’s time to aim toward creating an exercise routine that can be inserted into the day that healthily benefits you.
The philosophy of “always something” will hopefully motivate you to get up and move toward wellness.
Habit #2: Sleep
How much sleep did you get last night? We all know that eight hours is the recommended amount, but between work and family, it can seem impossible to make the math work.
Have you heard about some magical supplement for boosting your focus and energy so you can power through the day during this crisis?
I have bad news for you. No supplement can beat a good night of sleep. I’m not going to list all the amazing benefits of sleep here, because you already know them.
So, whether you are a Type-A person who has several irons in the fire, parent of cute but extremely energetic kids, or both, maximizing the benefits of sleep can be the second most important thing that you can do right now.
My favorite sleep hack is to blackout my room, turn off the TV and digital devices at least an hour or two before bed, and go to bed at the same time every night. And in case you wake up before 7-8 hours of sleep, stay in bed and meditate or perform deep breathing techniques until you reach a total of 7-8 hours.
This sleep hack from former Navy SEAL Dr. Kirk Parsley changed my life. It increased my work performance by 300%, and I finally said goodbye to my sleep supplements.
Habit # 3: Mindfulness
You might not have 6-8 hours per day to practice meditation like a Tibetan monk or 10 hours a day to study Buddha’s teachings like a Buddhist nun. But, I’m sure you can use 10 minutes per day to try this ancient practice.
Practicing meditation has been shown to lower stress hormones while helping you to focus better. Some research shows that meditation changes the anatomy and function of your brain. Meditation can be really helpful during times like this.
Additional ways that meditation can also help is with a leader’s relationships, allowing them to lead with deeper empathy and connection. That’s a great skill to have during exceedingly stressful times.
There are hundreds of meditation products on the market. Some may take only two minutes per day; others take two hours per day.
I always recommend that my clients start with a quick five minutes a day practice. Take the time to build a regular practice and then increase the time.
The most important thing is to find the best fit for you and get started. You’re 5 minutes away from experiencing less stress, more focus, and better performance.
Lastly, start applying these three powerful wellness habits daily to help you perform your best during this Covid-19 crisis.
The Bottom Line
We are dealing with something unprecedented, and at the same time, we have a historic opportunity to lead and grow.
You can complain about Trump and his strategies to handle this crisis, or you can pop the cork on 5 bottles of wine every night.
Or you can remember your purpose, recommit to be your best and focus on these high-performing habits to tap into your power and make sure your customers, teams, and company come out of the pandemic stronger. The choice is yours.