by Phil Latz
Hi, welcome to the eighth blog in my personal growth series that I hope will help you become more successful in your business.
As a business owner myself for many years, I understand the challenges that you face.
Today I’ll be going to be looking beyond just your working life to discuss your physical, mental and spiritual health.
Some of these areas can be deeply personal and quite sensitive topics to discuss. So I’ll start by stressing that I’m certainly not trying to dictate what you should do.
You are a sovereign being and have the right to choose however you’d like to live your life. Everyone is different and I’m a great believer in respecting and celebrating our differences.
Instead, I’ll simply share with you some general, broadly accepted principals, and for more specific examples, I’ll share what works for me. As I’ve just mentioned, you’re entirely free to take or leave any part of this.
Physical, mental and spiritual health are areas that I’ve paid a lot of time and attention to in my own life. That’s because I want to squeeze every drop of productive work out of my body before I drop. So I’m motivated to share all the hard-won experience that I’ve learned, especially to fellow business owners when they’re struggling.
Every year as I get older, good health becomes more important to me. If you want to maximise your success in business one of the best places to start is to look after all aspects of your health.
You’ll be doing no one any favours in the long run if you take on the ‘martyr syndrome’ and put the welfare of your business or even your team members ahead of your own health.
At first glance that might sound selfish, but as they say in the airline safety briefings, ‘Fit your own oxygen mask before helping children or others around you.’ Why? Because if you’re not breathing well then you can be of no help to your child or anyone else.
Let’s talk about physical and mental health.
In past years, it would be most common to look at these two key aspects of health in isolation. But many recent studies are confirming that physical health and mental health are closely intertwined.
Another highly positive development in our society is that the former social stigma about discussing mental health issues has at least been diminishing, and hopefully, banished forever.
So what are some practical steps that you can take to improve your physical and mental health? They are steps closely related to diet and exercise that you often hear described as ‘lifestyle choices’.
Let’s start with diet.
Most of us already know what we should be avoiding. Excessive sugars, too much salt, fatty and overly processed foods.
But it’s hard to make good choices when every day we’re bombarded with advertising urging us to eat rubbish! Unfortunately, that’s because the addictive, junk food is far more profitable for big business.
How can you resist this temptation!? At least most of the time…
I think it comes down to deep questions of self-esteem and your mental wellbeing. Are you eating to live or living to eat?
If you’re eating for comfort, that can lead to gaining weight and a further downwards spiral. It’s easy to say, ‘Don’t do it!’
But as we all know, it’s far harder to do.
I would suggest that if you’ve tried all sorts of diets and lifestyle changes but your diet’s still out of control, you should seek appropriate professional help.
As for me, if you’d asked me for 40 years of my life what my favourite food was, I would have probably answered, ‘A T-bone steak!’
The irony of that answer today is that at the time of recording this video, for the past eight years I haven’t eaten a single T-bone steak. Nor have I eaten any meat of any kind, including fish and chicken, nor any eggs or dairy.
My wife and I have followed what’s commonly described as a vegan diet. I’m aware that this diet can offend some people, so I won’t elaborate any further other than to say that we’re both feeling a lot better since making the change.
Even if you don’t go that far down the dietary road, you can improve your health by eating foods that are grown organically and have as little processing as possible.
One strategy I’ve adopted kills three birds with one stone – an ironic expression for a vegan to use I know. That is to have an organic fruit and veggie garden in our back yard.
Firstly, I get exercise preparing, planting and weeding the garden.
Secondly, I find that spending even a few minutes in the garden is very calming and good for my mental health.
Thirdly, we get to eat the fruits of our labour, so to speak. More often the vegetables and herbs of our labour, typically picked a few minutes before each meal time.
In my opinion, no supermarket produce can match the flavours, freshness, fun and health benefits of home-grown food.
Now let’s move onto exercise.
The Western world data about exercise is alarming and getting worse. Most of us are getting far less than the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.
Thirty minutes doesn’t sound much out of a 24 hour day, but I know that many of us find it hard to make the time.
I suggest the best way is to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle.
For me, this mainly means riding a bicycle to work. But for you it could mean walking the dog, walking to the bus stop, whatever can fit into your everyday routine. None of this is an elite level, high intensity exercise. It doesn’t have to be. And none of it costs any money.
My wife and I made a conscious decision choosing where to live and work so that I could easily ride between the two. I understand that not everyone has this luxury.
Many of my fellow citizens of Wollongong, New South Wales spend three to four hours every day commuting by car or train to Sydney, where the bigger jobs and business opportunities are based. There are multiple complex reasons for this situation that ultimately often relate to poor government policies around housing and employment opportunities, but the health cost is massive.
Don’t hesitate to invest money into your health. I’m not motivated enough to exercise for an hour at home on my own, so I go to a Pilates class twice a week and not only get through the hour every time, but make friends along the way.
Any sort of class, gym, social sports team, hiking club, swim squad, wherever your interest lies, is a great way to stay fit and socially connected.
Another thing you should be avoiding is sitting down for long periods every day. Health experts are now saying that ‘sitting is the new smoking’. If you have an office job, then I suggest that you invest in a standing desk like I have. Ideally, one that you can easily change from standing to sitting height via preset buttons and an electric motor.
There’s nothing too scientific about how I use this desk. I stand until my legs get tired, then sit until my backside gets numb or I get fidgety, then I stand again.
Regardless of what sort of desk you have, if you have a mainly office bound job, then also take breaks for a short walk at least once or twice a day.
Turning to some specific mental health issues, some huge ones facing business people in today’s hectic, high pressure world are stress, anxiety and depression.
All of us face these pressures.
I’ll put my own hand up as being just as vulnerable to all three of these as you might be.
I’ve found that it helps to avoid the things that trigger these states of mind. For example, I’ve found it too depressing to watch the evening news on TV, so I now avoid it.
Once again, everyone suffers from these issues to different degrees, so please don’t hesitate to seek help if you can’t cope on your own.
That’s certainly a better option than self-medication which many people do through excessive use of alcohol and so-called recreational drugs.
Smoking is another addiction that has now been proven to have no upsides for your physical or mental health.
If you’re struggling with any of these issues, then please be proactive and get help.
You can also strengthen your mental health by not just taking breaks and holidays, but making sure that when you are away from your business, you’re living fully in the moment. Picture yourself closing the door on your business and walking away.
The third and final aspect of health that I’d like to discuss with you today is spiritual health.
I know this can be a very personal topic, so I’m going to tread carefully.
Most people, even those who don’t follow any particular faith, agree that we come in three parts, a body, that is optimised by good physical health, a soul, which is the mind, will and emotion, that is optimised by good mental health and finally, a spirit.
Virtually every culture in history from the oldest ones on the planet such as Australian aboriginal culture through to far more recent ones have some form of spiritual foundation.
For me, both through my cultural upbringing since birth and my personal decision as an adult I’ve followed the Christian faith. Some critics may say, ‘That’s just a crutch!’ I would not only agree, but say that they haven’t gone far enough. It’s more like a life support system, that I’ve turned to most when any aspect of my personal, family or business health is at its worst.
As I’ve already mentioned, this is a very personal decision. Everyone is on their own journey.
I think that our society as a whole would become far more healthy if we learned how to better respect everyone’s differences and lived with more true harmony and goodwill.
This leads to the topic of my next blog, that will cover taking collective action, particularly in the context of your business and professional life.
I believe that with passion, consistent effort and wise advice you can succeed in your business.
I wish you all the best and I’ll see you next time.