Author and coach Pat Divilly shares his top tips for taking control of your wellbeing and boosting your performance.
Like athletes, many of us perform in work and in life under stressful circumstances. We are expected to be ‘on’ all of the time, demanding high levels of physical, mental and emotional energy. But unlike athletes, few of us afford our minds or our bodies sufficient time to rest and recover.
According to coach and Upgrade Your Life author Pat Divilly, “To perform at your best, you should take time to rest your mind and nurture yourself from the inside out. Start by making a few small changes to your daily routine.”
Starting your day
Drink a large glass of water first thing after waking up. If your taste buds need flavour, chop up a strawberry and pop it in the glass or boil the kettle and make yourself a warming mug of water with added lemon juice.
Avoid skipping breakfast. Proteins will help boost your energy levels, so treat yourself to eggs, smoked salmon or beans.
A few years ago, I discovered the benefits of taking 15 minutes out to meditate each morning. My focus improved, my perspective broadened and I became less reactive.
Start by taking five minutes alone to yourself before or after breakfast. Choose a comfortable chair in a quiet space. Close your eyes, sit upright with both feet on the ground and just be present. Breathe in and out, feel your body in the chair and your feet on the ground. Thoughts will come into your mind; don’t fight them, just observe and let them pass. The same goes for feelings.
When you first start, you may find that your mind seems to get louder. Persevere and after several sessions, you should find it getting easier and your mind becoming less busy.
Gradually build this ‘pause’ time to 15 minutes, and I promise you’ll feel the benefit as your day unfolds.
During your day
Eat purposefully to fuel your energy and keep your mind sharp.
Avoid using caffeine as a crutch to get you through the day. It’s a stimulant and an appetite suppressor. Drink water instead.
Eat at least 5 vegetables of different colour each day. Dark leafy green (kale, spinach and cabbage) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) contain a range of vitamins and minerals which are believed to support cognitive function.
Oily fish such as freshly cooked salmon and mackerel, and tinned salmon and sardines are rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs, also known as omega oils). Research has shown that EFAs play a key role in brain development and performance. It’s vital you source them from your diet, as your body does not make them. Try to eat these twice weekly.
If you’re vegan or like me, not a great fan of fish, try half an avocado or a handful of olives every day. Or add raw, unsalted, unroasted, soaked seeds and nuts into your foods. They’ll supply you with protein and energy rich fats and oils, or blend an oil rich in EFAs into your smoothies. I add Udo’s Oil to my morning smoothie; it’s quick and easy and made from a blend of organic seeds. When travelling, I bring Udo’s Oil capsules for convenience.
Lastly, avoid fast food and sugar, especially at work. They’ll slow you down, and make you sluggish and tired.
Calm your mind and put energy back in
If you find yourself getting stressed, try Box Breathing. I find it hugely beneficial and a quick and easy way to destress and recover. Sit in a comfortable chair in a place where you won’t be disturbed and count to four as you breathe in, filling your belly with air. After holding for four seconds, exhale counting to four as you do so. Then hold for a further four before breathing in again. This makes up one box breath. Repeat this for five minutes, smile at yourself in a mirror and step back into your day.
End your day on a high note
Before you leave the office or just before heading to bed, take out a journal and write down three things you are grateful for, and three ‘mini wins’ you had during the day. I do this and always aim to find three new things I’m thankful for each night. Doing this will help reinforce the positives in your mind, enable you recognise what you’re doing well and how fortunate you are to have the people and the things you do in life.
Are you up for a challenge?
If these suggestions strike a chord, I’ll be offering many more during my Upgrade your Mindset talks in September.
See www.patdivilly.com for more details or grasp the moment now by participating in the simple two-week programme I designed with Udo’s Choice to help you form some new empowering habits. Pick up your free Upgrade Your Mindset Challenge booklet in health stores and pharmacies, or visit www.udoschoice.ie to find out more.
Main photograph by Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash