Learning to look after yourself: The importance of bananas and amusing kittens.

Posted on February 4, 2015

Eve Poole ran the 'Know Yourself, Be Yourself, Look After Yourself' session at last month’s residential for the 2015 Clore Social Fellows, based around our social leadership framework. Here she shares her top strategies for looking after yourself well at work.

1) Pay attention to the quality of your sleep, particularly when you are learning. I’m afraid that does mean drinking less alcohol in the evenings, because your heart gets so busy clearing out your system you can't get proper repair sleep

2) Go for a walk outside every day. If your commute doesn't permit this, get off a stop early, have one-to-ones on the hoof, or walk to the further away sandwich shop for lunch. Buy yourself a fabulous brolly if you don't like the rain.

3) Carry that bottle of water around. If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated, and we know from sports science that dehydration impairs performance.

4) Snack on bananas or nuts, not sweet treats which only make you feel good for a few seconds.

5) Do a good turn every day. Altruism stimulates the para-sympathetic nervous system which makes your body feel at rest. This includes coaching and listening to others, dropping coins into charity boxes and giving up your seat on the train.

6) Laugh! Make sure you have a good laugh every day, even if that means having a funny friend on speed dial and amusing cat videos on your desktop.

7) Find a conscience - a coach, a learning partner or best friend. Share your plans with them and get them to help you keep on track. You may already do this informally, but it's a good idea to formalise it in some way so that you are genuinely held to account about your life goals

8) Make space for you to be strategic about how you use your time, like putting a 'weekly review' meeting in your diary, which could just be you taking a walk and having a think. Try to control your own diary so that you can negotiate away meetings if they won't help you stay on track.

9) Use your out of office for when you are not at work if you feel pressured into responding to emails 24/7 - people can text if something is truly urgent.

10) Find joy. Think of all the times you have felt really transported (music, light, beauty, etc.). Can you seek this out more often?

And above all, when you are walking around, smile at people - it's catching!

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