What are you willing to try when it comes to improving your wellbeing?  Would you eat dirt to eliminate bad bacteria?  Garden under the moonlight to beat depression?  Plunge into icy water to improve your immune system?

Is it just me or does it seem like each day there is another weird and wonderful way being recommended to improve our wellbeing?

Don’t get me wrong I’m open to trying the odd “woo-woo” idea in the name of better health, but I was recently reminded by a wonderful group I’m coaching that the very best place to start when it comes to flourishing is by getting the basics right.

You see everything from how well we sleep at night, the foods we put in our mouth, and how much we’re moving - particularly while we’re at work - has a profound effect not only on our own levels of energy, happiness and productivity but on everyone around you as well.

I know improving the way you eat, sleep and move might not feel like the most exciting changes you want to be making, but be in no doubt they are the hygiene factors of wellbeing.  Without them in place you make your journey from functioning to flourishing much harder than it needs to be.

Do you have your wellbeing basics covered?

Researcher and best-selling author Tom Rath, has found if you eat, move, and sleep well today, you will have more energy tomorrow. You’ll treat your friends and family better. And you’ll achieve more at work and give more to your community.

For example, a study of more than 80,000 people suggests that the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat is a robust predictor of overall happiness. It turns out every additional daily serving of fruits or vegetables, all the way up to seven servings, continues to improve your wellbeing and move you towards flourishing. 

And I was shocked to learn that while working out regularly is a great habit because most of us now spend around nine hours a day sitting down it’s essential that we’re also active throughout the day if we want to remain healthy.

Finally, if you’re anything like me and often forgo an extra hour’s sleep in order to tick that last thing off your to-do list or stay out playing with friends, you might want to re-think this strategy. You see when you lose an hour of sleep, it decreases your wellbeing, productivity, health, and ability to think the following day.

Don’t worry I wasn’t thrilled about any of this research either! The good news is Tom has found that small decisions — about how we eat, move, and sleep each day — count more than we think when it comes to your ability to flourish at work.  

What are the small changes you can make to eat, move and sleep more effectively?

Firstly when it comes to eating rather than trying different diets, try to create a day-in and day-out good approach to eating.  An idea that really helped me was to look at what I was putting in my mouth and asking if it was a net gain or net loss when it came to my wellbeing. 

Net gains are foods that are good for us like fruit and vegetables (the darker the color the better), nuts and seeds, seafood and chicken.  Net losses are foods that are bad for us like fatty meats, fried cooking, added sugars and junk food.  Just asking how a food would impact my energy and mood, was a great motivator to slowly move me away from decades of bad eating habits.

Secondly when it comes to how much movement you need it’s important to be aware that every hour you spend on your rear end — in a car, watching television, attending a meeting, or at your computer — saps your energy and potentially ruins your health.  

Try to stand, stretch and increase activity every 20 minutes if you can - even if its just for 20 seconds. Walk to someone’s office instead of calling. Park the car a block from where you need it.  Grab a pedometer and try to get to 10,000 steps each day.  Instead of viewing a long walk as something you don’t have time for, think of it as an opportunity to fire up your brain so you can think more clearly and creatively. 

Finally when it comes to sleeping know that losing 90 minutes of sleep has been found to reduce your daytime alertness by nearly one-third.  I was also surprised to learn that in studies of peak performers, one of the factors that set them apart was the eight and half hours of sleep they got each night.

To improve your sleep try to turn off technology an hour before you go to bed, make sure your room is 3 to 5 degrees cooler than what you experience during the day and get up at the same time each morning – even on the weekend – to maintain your bodies natural sleeping and waking rhythm (it’s a great excuse for a nana nap later on).

If you’re ready to get started get Tom’s free 30 day Eat, Move, Sleep plan.  Customized to build on what’s already working for your wellbeing it’s an easy way to put these small changes into action.  And if you want to learn more from Tom’s research you can hear me interview him in this free 30 minute podcast.

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From Functioning to Flourishing

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