Written by 10:00 am Emotional Wellness, Physical Wellness

Total-Body Makeover

We all know that your heart is the central hub of your body. When your heart’s not working, you’re not living, so it’s always smart to have a good sense of how your old chest-thumper is doing.

I get regular screenings on the important biomarkers (a major one annually and a smaller-scale one at the six-month mark), and I check my blood pressure pretty regularly. I also have a wearable that tracks things like heart rate, and it’s amazing what you can do with that data if you’re in tune to it. (For me, I can always tell that I’m about to get some kind of bug a few days later if I notice a slight uptick in my resting heart rate.)

Of course, diagnostics are just that—markers that give an indication of the health of your heart. And if you have trouble, you certainly need medical attention or guidance. But it never hurts to be aware of the things you can do to improve your heart health. Some of the majors one include:

  • Consuming heart-friendly foods, such as fruits and vegetables, ones that contains healthy fats (like avocado and nuts) and soluble fiber
  • Getting about 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity

And I do recommend that you find ways to make sure you’re getting screened regularly with blood tests (so many of us put these off), as these are the best ways to notice problems before they get too severe.

Reduce the Tension

There’s no doubt that mental health is as complex of a subject there is. It’s hard, it’s heavy, there’s no right answer for everyone, and it has a cascading effect on all other aspects of our health and life.

So in no way do I think we can tackle the big picture of mental health in all of its complexities, but I’d like to address at least one aspect of it: In-the-moment anxiety.

That is, maybe you’ve got an acute stressor, like a big presentation or a conflict at work or some other issue that’s weighing on you or making you nervous. How do you handle those situations? How do you work through the tension? How do you help your brain calm you down when it really feels like a pinball machine going haywire?

The answer, of course, differs for everyone. And it’s also worth noting that stress isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. After all, stress can be what helps us be productive, solve problems, and do the things we need to get done.

People often ask me how I handle talking in front of tens of thousands of people at conferences. (Public speaking is often listed as one of the greatest fears of humans.

There’s no secret mantra or magic spell I use. I typically use two things that help me every time:

Preparation: The biggest way to reduce nerves is to be ready for everything. I’m always well-prepared and well-rehearsed, and I always make sure all my tech is working before I go on stage. The easiest way for me to reduce tension is to eliminate unpredictability. I think that preparation can help with so many of life’s tense moments.

Hydration: Maybe it sounds a little odd that a bottle of water can take your nerves down from nuclear to spa-like, but it works for me. I always have water nearby, and not only does it help with fatigue, hunger, and other aspects of health, but it really seems to help with any stressful or tense situations. Drinking water is a good habit all-around. Try increasing your intake, and be in tune to how it may influence your mood.

Take the Burpee Challenge

I had a friend recently ask me if I liked burpees.

(Burpees are a total-body exercise that work like this: Stand straight, move to the floor in push-up position, do a push-up, move your feet forward and jump straight up – all in a fluid [or semi-fluid!] motion. Google it for a visual demo.)

My response: “Does anybody like burpees?”

But the truth is that they can be a fabulous total-body exercise that also gets your heart pumping.

If you’re looking for a mini-challenge to kickstart or add to an exercise routine (and provided you don’t have any physical limitations that would cause or exacerbate an injury), try some kind of burpee challenge. Some ideas:

  • Do 1 burpee today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next day, and so on. (Establish your goal “final” number.)
  • Set a goal for a certain number of burpees you will do in a week and aim to hit it.
  • See how many you can do in 5 minutes. Next week, try again and see if you can beat that number.