In "Optimize Your Mind: 10 Ways to Become Incredibly Successful," we covered some awesome ideas fromChris Winfield, an Inc. colleague who originally put a version of the following together for Buffer. (Buffer lets you schedule, automate, and analyze social-media updates.)
Chris is an entrepreneur and writer, and if you like these posts, he's created a special bonus area with a worksheet and 40 powerful morning habits you can adopt.
Now let's look at his second key aspect of long-term success: optimizing your body.
Being your best also requires that you take care of your body and are firing on all cylinders! Here are a few things you can add to your daily routine to do just that:
1. Breathe: Practice deep breathing
Of course, if you quit breathing you die. In this case, I'm talking about really breathing.
Seventy percent of your body's toxins are released through your lungs and exhalation, making the act of "full breathing" a natural and powerful detoxifier.
Peak-performance expert Tony Robbins recommends deep breathing as part of his 10-Day Challenge. Three times a day, you take 10 "power breaths" using a ratio of 1-4-2. For example, if you inhale for 6 seconds, you then hold your breath for 24 seconds, and slowly exhale for 12 seconds.
This type of breathing brings energy to your body, making it healthier and less stressed in the process. You'll start to feel better almost instantly...try it now. I'll wait.
2. Eat "productive" foods
We've talked about a number of things you can do to make your days more productive, but did you know that the foods you eat can help with this too? That's right. The items you choose to consume each and every day can actually affect how well your brain functions, ultimately making it easier (or harder) for you to hit your goals.
Research has found that your brain operates optimally when you consume a very specific amount of glucose (25 grams, to be exact) in a form that is released slowly over time. Foods that fall into this category and have positive effects on your body and mind include:
- Raw carrots, and...most everyone's favorite:
- Dark chocolate
Eat foods like these and your body and your brain will thank you!
3. Drink more water: Nine to 13 cups a day
Nearly 75 percent of all Americans aren't drinking enough water on a daily basis. Do you fall into this group?
If so, this can leave you feeling tired all the time, result in more frequent headaches, and also lower your strength and stamina, making any routine at all difficult to create, let alone keep.
One way to overcome this all-too-common occurrence is to have water with you at all times. Drink a full glass first thing in the morning, have one following your morning exercise routine (which we'll talk about soon), and drink up at every meal.
Keep sipping the rest of the day, too, so you get your Mayo Clinic recommended intake of nine cups daily for women and 13 cups for men.
4. Have some tea: Polyphenols benefit the body
When you're not drinking water, you may want to have tea in your cup. Harvard Medical School says that the polyphenols found in tea have been found to do many good things for your body. Specifically, they are anti-inflammatory and provide antioxidant-like benefits.
Here are some of the best teas to drink, as well as the reasons why:
- Green tea: Positive anti-cancer effects, good for your circulatory system and brain
- Black tea: Promotes healthy lungs
- White tea: Strong cancer preventative effects
- Oolong tea: Lowers bad cholesterol
- Pu-erh tea: Helps with weight gain and lowering bad cholesterol
Sit back, enjoy a cup or two a day, and reap the benefits.
5. Get out of your chair--often
Spending your days sedentary, stuck behind a desk, can really wreak havoc on your body.
The National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD) cites some of the physical consequences of sitting a lot, which include: increased risk of colon and breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, strokes and heart attacks, as well as a greater mental decline and loss of muscle and bone.
And if that's not enough, check out this video on "Why Sitting Is Bad for You" by Murat Dalkilin.
In his article "The Healthiest Way to Work," Buffer content crafter extraordinaire Kevan Lee provides a few tips to help you get out of your chair and move more often. Some to think about implementing in your own life are: getting up every 20 minutes, using a standing desk, and sitting on a saddle or balance chair.
6. Exercise (MOVE!)
Exercise is the one part of a daily routine that most everyone loves to hate. And there are tons of excuses not to exercise:
- "I don't like to exercise."
- "I couldn't get out of bed early enough, so I ran out of time. And I don't have time at night."
- "I really don't like to sweat."
The list goes on and on, but you get the point.
In Choose Yourself, author James Altucher defines excuses as "easy lies we tell ourselves to cover up our failures." How do you get past those lies? Start seeing what positive things exercise has to offer you...not what you don't like about it.
Entrepreneur Joshua Steimle exercises because, "If exercise stops, then my health goes downhill." This decreases his productivity, right along with his motivation, while increasing his depressive feelings at the same time.
Other benefits of regular exercise include having an easier time controlling your weight, reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes and cancer, improved mood, and more!
Exercise doesn't have to mean an hour-long, grueling workout session. Take a 10 to 20 minute walk. Do yoga, stretches, or dance around your living room. Get on the elliptical. Or do "The Scientific 7-Minute Workout" featured inThe New York Times.
It doesn't matter what you do; just do something to get your body moving!
7. Get enough sleep: No less than seven hours
Sleep is extremely important to your overall health for a multitude of reasons. In the short term, not sleeping enough can affect your judgment, mood, and even your ability to retain information. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early death.
And beyond the physical and mental problems, it's pretty tough to stick to a full routine when you're so tired that all you can think about is crawling back into bed, pulling the covers over your head, and drifting back to sleep.
To get a good night's sleep, you can:
- Limit your caffeine to early in the day
- Choose late-day foods that bring on sleep, like bananas, oatmeal, and potatoes
- Using ear plugs or a white noise machine to cut out outside noise at night
- Darken your room
- Stay away from technology for a good hour before bedtime
Remember, consistency and routine are key when it comes to creating healthy sleep habits. According to Dr. Lawrence Epstein, co-author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep, "Our body craves routine and likes to know what's coming."
Epstein points to two simple tenets for healthy sleep: 1) getting enough (no less than seven hours), and 2) getting it during the same time frame each day (as much as possible).
Others in this series: