I love yoga. It is a relaxing way to connect with my body, stretch out my muscles, and bring peace to my mind. It has also be linked to reduced stress, increased clarity for decision-making, and potentially lowered health care costs. I have also found that I often leave my classes filled with lessons to apply to my personal and professional lives. Since I love yoga so much, I decided to guest blog about it on The Yoga Blog. Here it is:
Most days, I am rushing.
Rushing to meet the demands of my senior executive clients. Rushing to turn around reports with tight deadlines. Rushing from one appointment to the next.
So, my Tuesday evening restorative yoga classes are a welcome departure from the day-to-day grind of my work in corporate America.
Yet, while the time on my mat is a world away from the hubbub of my professional environment, I have learned many life lessons from the practice that I bring to my work.
Here are the top four things my practice has taught me:
When you were a kid, did your mother urge you to eat your vegetables? If your home-life was anything like mine, you were presented with a constant array of veggies at dinner time. Some, like corn and carrots, I wolfed down enthusiastically, while others were consumed under duress (beets, turnips, and brussel sprouts come to mind).
My parents’ main line of reasoning for eating vegetables was that they were part of a nutritious diet that would help to make me big and strong. What they didn’t know at the time, was that a well-balanced vegetable-rich diet also contributes to greater emotional wellbeing.
Here are a few of the fascinating research findings:
1. In one study, British young adults completed a daily diary for three weeks in which they logged their negative moods, positive moods, and food consumption. An analysis of the data indicated that the day after the subjects consumed more fruits and vegetables, they also experienced more positive emotions. The authors concluded that consuming the fruits and vegetables actually drove the positive moods that followed, and found the ideal amount to consume was 7-8 fruits and vegetables per day.
2. Another study of 80,000 British adults found that emotional wellbeing increased with the number of fruit and vegetables eaten each day. Like the previously-mentioned study, seven servings proved to be the sweet spot – beyond that, there was not much more benefit.
3. A study of 5,731 Norwegian adults found that individuals who consumed a healthy diet were less likely to be depressed compared to those who ate a more typical Western diet filled with processed foods. This study also found that a processed diet is associated with increased incidence of anxiety. In another study, these same researchers found that a balanced and nutritious diet was associated with better mental health in a sample of 3040 Australian adolescents compared to those who had a diet that was rich in processed foods.
4. The effects of nutrition on mental health may start in the womb.Another study of Norwegian subjects examined the diets of mothers during pregnancy, and at various points during their children’s first 5 years. Results showed that babies who were exposed to more unhealthy foods during pregnancy had more behavioral and emotional problems during early childhood.
5. Diet can also affect your cognitive abilities. In one study, twenty sedentary men were either fed a nutritionally balanced diet or a high-fat diet for seven days. Compared to the control group, the high-fat group showed decreased memory and attention.
The bottom line? What you eat not only affects your body, it affects your mind.
Make the effort to eat a nutritionally-balanced diet that is filled with natural food sources and low on refined and processed foods. Aim for 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Not only will it make you big and strong, it will also make you happier!
Today I was featured as a guest blogger on a site I absolutely love – MindBodyGreen.com. In the article I talk about the importance of bringing a sense of spirituality to your work. If that sounds interesting, read on!
A few months ago, in the lunchroom of my office, there was a spirited — OK maybe even heated — discussion about religion. While I won’t go into the specifics of what each side was arguing, let’s just say that the various parties who were involved had deeply held beliefs that were in direct opposition to one another. And, after the conversation, both sides left feeling upset and misunderstood.
Due to the potential for run-ins such as this, I think that if you were to ask around, most people in the U.S. would contend that religion and business shouldn’t mix. Based on what I saw, I would probably wholeheartedly agree as well, and caution against getting into discussions such as the unfortunate one I just recounted.
Still, I believe that each of us can benefit from personal reflection about how our spirituality impacts our work lives. Note that I said spirituality, not religion. While religion is associated with a prescribed set of practices and beliefs, I see spirituality as relating to how we answer existential questions regarding why we are here, and the relationships we have with life and a higher power. If we don’t think about our spirituality as we are going about our work, we miss important opportunities for greater self-knowledge and work effectiveness. Here’s why: