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Three Steps to “Spring Clean” the Body and the Mind


Spring has finally sprung (late this year for those of us in the UK and the US, and perhaps other parts of the globe) – and with that comes the annual ritual of spring cleaning. However, this year, rather than limiting spring cleaning to our homes, let’s apply that concept to our bodies and minds – using Physical Intelligence.


Spring cleaning our bodies and minds will put a bounce in our step, lift our spirits, and renew our commitment to the things that are most important to us.

Here are three spring cleaning habits that you can add to your routine straight away – two to improve mental, emotional and physical strength and stability and a third to enhance your flexibility and creativity.


#1 – CLEAR YOUR HEAD

Winter can negatively affect our mood and our confidence. When it is cold, rainy and dark outside, our body tends to close in, tense and hunch, which can create negative mental and emotional states that build up through the winter months and linger into the spring. That tense, hunched posture that comes with the cold and rain can make our breathing more shallow and short – often causing us to hold our breath, which increases our cortisol levels. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is the destructive chemical responsible for eroding our


Strength – leaving us feeling less confident, defensive, angry and aggressive, and generally creates unproductive ways of thinking. Physically Intelligent people can counteract the effects of cortisol and renew their Strength by enhancing their breathing. Effective breathing builds our capacity to be mentally strong and think clearly under pressure.


Clear Your Head Habit: Set aside 10 minutes per day to breathe deeply, actively and rhythmically, pacing your breath in a conscious way, with the eyes closed, breathing into the lower abdomen area, not into the higher chest area. Find a trigger and put this new habit next to something you always do every day (e.g., immediately after showering and dressing). During this time, observe your thought patterns without judging them wrong or right and allow this simple daily practice to clear your mind. This simple step will allow you to gain clarity of thought, feel emotionally balanced and be productive and astute all day.


#2 – FOCUS ON A PERSONAL BEST

Once we have cleared our head using the breathing technique above, we will be better able to focus. Rather than drifting from month to month, we can take advantage of the new start Spring offers to shake things up and make a commitment to how we want to develop ourselves emotionally, mentally and physically, (possibly recommitting to those New Year’s resolutions!). Making these decisions involves taking a stand for what we want, which boosts testosterone (confidence and risk tolerance) and dopamine (pleasure and reward) levels.


Being human is an art and a science. Physically Intelligent people know how to focus without becoming too driven, improving their behaviour, skills and talents in a balanced way. They don’t leave their development to chance or regret how they have spent their time. They use their Strength to decide how they want to behave going forward and they make and keep commitments. By deciding what to keep and what to clear out, we increase the chance of positive outcomes. While we cannot influence everything that happens to us, quite a lot is within our control. We simply have to set our mind to what matters most


Personal Best Exercise: Think of something you want to prioritise, an area where you want to improve. It could be a behavior (e.g., I want to speak up confidently at every team meeting at work), a life style improvement (e.g., I want to commit to my fitness plan for x weeks and achieve my optimal body weight), a technical skill or developing a talent (e.g., I want to learn how to use a particular type of software, or play a new piece on the piano), or a social role (e.g., I want to complete that charity run and improve on last year’s time and sponsorship target). Write down your personal best to date. List the improvements you want to make. Consult your diary, note what you will practice/train, when you will do it and when and how you will measure or evaluate your improved personal best at a set point in the future.


#3 – GO OUTSIDE

As the temperature rises, and the days grow longer, the additional warmth, light and the sun on our skin boost vitamin D and serotonin levels, making us feel more open, flexible and happier. In addition to leaving the overcoats behind, we shed layers emotionally and mentally. Physically intelligent people capitalise on the sun at this time of year, banking positive experiences by regularly getting away from their computers, phones and tablets and going outside. It is easy to do. Walk, stride out, swing your arms, relax your shoulders and neck and smile. When we echo the natural unfolding that happens in nature in the spring, our bodies open up. When we look more closely at the world around us focusing on the positive, and make commitments to address the negative, we consciously develop our Flexibility, increasing our ability to think creatively, adapt, evolve, learn and change. A now famous Stanford study ‘Give Your Ideas some Legs’ from 2014 shows that we are 45 per cent more likely to have high quality innovative thoughts whilst walking!


Flexibility Habit: On every sunny day, regardless of how busy you are, prioritise 10 minutes outdoors. The trigger should be when you open your curtains/blinds and see that the sun is shining. Decide there and then when you will go outside that day to turn your face up to the sun, stretch your body open, walk and move. Make it early in the day in case cloud cover is forecast. Notice how being outside more helps you feel happier and increases your creative insight.


By making a commitment to these three simple techniques, you will be well on your way to becoming more physically intelligent.


Learn more about Physical Intelligence in our book, Physical Intelligence, Proven Strategies to Help You Achieve More, Stress Less and Live More Happily, to be published by Simon and Schuster this Autumn. You can pre-order it in English here (If you would like to read it in simple or complex Chinese, Russian, Korean or German these translations will be available in 2019.)


For more information about how Physical Intelligence can help you, your team or your organisation, please visit us at www.companiesinmotion.com.

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About Companies in Motion

Transforming how organizations learn and engage, Companies in Motion (CIM) supports you and your organisation’s overall performance.


Many organizations are moving away from the traditional performance training models to something more innovative and meaningful. In response to this change, Learning and Development teams are implementing Physical Intelligence programs that support performance across the curriculum: leadership, innovation, change management, team building, sales, negotiating, and more.


Contact CIM for more information on how Physical Intelligence can support performance across your company. www.companiesinmotion.com

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