May is a month of bright blooms with the world around us fully embracing the warmer months, more sun, and new beginnings. How appropriate that May is also Mental Health Awareness Month! The simple truth is that none of us can change the past, nor can we control or guarantee the future. What we CAN do is focus on the here and now and determine how we want to show up in every moment. The thoughts and feelings that we choose directly affect our actions, behaviors, and outcomes. This is a minute by minute journey that we each take, every single day. Our mindset provides the foundation for our mental, physical, and spiritual health. Leaders are often looking outward regarding their performance with team, department, and company metrics commanding their time and energy. Leaders are best served when they start first and foremost with looking at themselves and ensuring that they’re leading themselves effectively, before focusing on everyone or everything else.
Energy Attracts Like Energy
Our bodies run on electricity. As such, we both emit and receive energy. Most often, we refer to this as a vibe or an attitude, but it is, at it’s core, energy. We have the ability to control this energy by choosing how we think and feel, which then impacts our actions, behaviors, and outcomes. The ability to choose is a simple concept yet remains elusive for many leaders.
The science is clear that we are relational creatures. Regardless of whether you consider yourself to be generally extroverted or introverted, we are relational in nature. This means that we pour out energy into others and receive energy back with each encounter. In fact, authors Seppala & Cameron conducted research in this field and call the anabolic interaction “Positive Relational Energy (PRE).” Their research found that more than any other factor (power, influence, charisma, etc.), PRE is the most impactful! They define PRE as “the energy exchanged between people that helps uplift, enthuse, and renew them.” Yes, you know this as Anabolic Energy from my past writings!
They go on further to label leaders who choose Anabolic Energy as “Positive Energizers,” while leaders who choose Catabolic Energy are “De-Energizers.” Their studies showed that Energizers “produce higher levels of engagement, lower turnover, and enhanced feelings of well-being among employees.” They also discovered that choosing Anabolic Energy has a self-enhancing effect! De-energizers on the other hand, leaders who chose to emit Catabolic Energy, left employees feeling demoralized, diminished, drained and uninspired.
Lastly, Seppala & Cameron found that Energizers reproduce themselves, creating a ripple effect of inspirational energy! As Bruce D. Schneider noted in his book Energized Leadership, “energy attracts like energy.” Choosing your thoughts and feelings in each moment sets the foundation for how you show up, how you impact others, and who you attract.
Most leaders monitor performance metrics for their teams. Highly self-aware leaders, those who focus on choosing their energy, those who understand the importance of being purposeful, also have personal effectiveness metrics. Do you? These metrics should be both leading and lagging in nature. Here are a few examples to get you started. Pick a couple or create your own and commit today to being a Positive Energizer both at work and at home by practicing them daily!
Personal Effectiveness Metrics:
* Set your energy intention every morning
* Reflect often with the spirit of learning and growing (not judgment)
* Recognize the red flags when you are dumping into your stress component (Catabolic Energy), relying on authority, force, guilt, coercion to get your way.
* Practice self-care (identify an activity)
* Check-in throughout the day, “Am I lifting people up or am I tearing them down?”
* Actively listen (stop multi-tasking)
* Gratitude – demonstrate it!
Food is Fuel
Hey, I love food too so I realize that this is a sensitive topic! In full transparency, my chocoholic tendencies are well known among my family and friends! After all, we are a social society and much of what we do centers around food. For example, no one has a “birthday quiche!” There is nothing wrong with indulging in your favorite cake on your birthday. And no child would be excited to have someone drop an orange into their bag on Halloween. The problem isn’t that we eat too much sugar one or two days per year. The problem is that we are consuming processed sugar every day of the year and in staggering amounts! Think I’m exaggerating? Go to the grocery store and plan some extra time for the trip. While there, read the label of every packaged food product. In addition to ingredients that you may not be able to pronounce, you will be stunned by the amount of processed sugar that is in everything.
Eating too much sugar has both physical and mental health consequences. A recent Healthline author noted that, “eating too much simple [processed] sugar may increase your risk for depression and mood disorders.” A 2013 Psychology Today article cited that studies revealed a link between excessive sugar intake and depression, anxiety, addiction, and reduction in learning and memory. The negative impact to our bodies is equally disturbing. In Health magazine a researcher identified several risks including: premature wrinkles (affects collagen), obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, kidney disease and increased production of cortisol. Yikes! All that because of a sweet tooth??
Not to worry! The solution does not have to be completely eradicating processed sugar from your diet. Instead, take inventory of how much processed sugar you consume daily. Then pick 1 or 2 things to eliminate from your diet. Some key tips to reduce your simple/processed sugar intake:
1. Read labels. Skip products that include “added sugar” which is the refined sugar that is the most harmful for you. This includes High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
2. Pick 1 or 2 things to eliminate from your diet. After a few weeks, pick another 1 or 2 more things. Gradually, over time you will wean yourself from consuming so much sugar and the cravings will subside.
3. Substitute naturally occurring complex sugar sources like fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth.
4. Set goals. The American Heart Association recommends the following daily guidelines: 37.5 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Again, focus on reducing the simple/refined sugar sources.
5. Journal and/or track your progress. I like the App My Fitness Pal but there are many to choose from!
Click on the image or the button at the bottom of this newsletter to connect with me and begin your self-optimization journey!
Made to Move
This is a physiological truth: we were made to move! Exercise, any form that elevates your heart rate, releases catabolic (stress) energy from your system AND releases endorphins into your system that make you feel good! Consistent exercise aids in weight loss, cardiovascular health and cortisol reduction. Exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, increase self-esteem, improve sleep, and boost brain function, noted by researchers at Walden University.
The consistent themes here whether it’s being purposeful in choosing your energy each moment, choosing what to eat or choosing how to exercise are CHOICE and HABIT. Both are within your control. Create helpful habits by practicing healthy choices every day!
You can start right now by joining a supportive, troll-free group that I established, Fierce, Fit & Fun! Post your progress, your goals, your frustrations, your challenges, your victories while receiving uplifting support from other Bod Group members. Mutual accountability helps us all get through those tough days, battle the temptations, and stay on track over the long term. Click on the image to join!
As an iPEC certified, ICF credentialed, and professional coach, I offer these tips, insights, and knowledge to help you grow not only as a leader but as a person. Know that you can control your thoughts and feelings and thereby impact your actions and behaviors with those choices. And, I am happy to partner with you on this journey! However, it’s important to note, in this month of Mental Health Awareness, that I am not a therapist or a psychologist. The ultimate strength as a leader is to know when to seek help and with whom. Sometimes, those who need help the most are too afraid to ask or are not feeling that they can actually be helped. Don’t be afraid to have these conversations with your friend or loved one if you are concerned about their well-being.
Positive Catalyst for Leadership & Wellness