With over 25 million cars on the road in the UK most of couldn’t do without those tins cans to complete the daily commute, school run or weekly shopping trip. When our cars break down, not only can it ruin our plans but also often burn a nasty hole in our pocket. We’ve all experienced the frustration of sitting on the side of the road for the arrival of the breakdown truck when something goes wrong unexpectedly, so we’re well trained in how to avoid this happening.
We take our cars in for an annual MOT and regular service to ensure they remain running smoothly. When a warning light comes on – we’ll pop the car into the garage for a once over. We know that addressing potential problems in the early stages before they turns into something catastrophic will save future inconvenience, stress and money. So why don’t we treat our health in the same way?
OK so admittedly the MOT element of car ownership is a legal requirement, but that said…it works! No-one likes heading back to the garage post-MOT to a £200 bill for some bits and bobs the mechanics had to fix, but it’s much better than the £2000 bill that would ensue when said bits flew off in the fast lane of the M25.
I love a good analogy and for once, this one isn’t too far fetched. Our body is a vehicle too and is what gets us from A to B; when it’s tired and a bit broken, we don’t get to our destination as efficiently or smoothly. We’re not just talking the physical side either, on those days where we’ve not had quite enough sleep or life is leaving us stressed and anxious, productivity often hits rock bottom.
If you’ve ever bought a brand new car, you’ll know that you’re exempt from needing an MOT for the first 3 years of ownership. This is because the car is new and shiny and in theory, things shouldn’t be dropping off or falling to pieces. Our bodies aren’t too dissimilar and that ‘initial carefree period’ lasts through most of our childhood – as kids we’re a lot more resilient both physically and emotionally. We’re in the learning phase and if things go wrong, we’re a lot more efficient at bouncing back (if you’ve ever seen little ones flying around on ski slopes, you’ll know what I mean!). Unfortunately, as we get older we don’t have those same levels of resilience and when we take a knock, it hurts. We need to be taking preventative measures constantly to ensure that when we do fall, we don’t break.
Maximum productivity requires that we’re firing on all cylinders. However much you may feel like you should be wonder woman (or superman), you’re not special enough to defy the laws of nature. Our body is inherently smarter than us and when we’re living an unsustainable lifestyle, warning signs will begin to show; unfortunately, we’re not to adept at paying attention to them. When it comes to managing our day-to-day lives, be it running a household or our business, we tend to have martyr syndrome and prefer to battle through.
When we’re not functioning at 100% time is not a consistent thing. An hour on the clock no longer means an hour of useful working time; suddenly what should be a 30-minute task takes 4 times as long. Our outputs are slower; we make mistakes and generally provide results that are under-par. We don’t have to be stricken down with a horrendous virus to be inefficient, even just a rough night’s sleep can see productivity take a dive.
The first step is always realising something is up – that niggling sore throat, an achey lower back or the sleep that didn’t feel very restful. All of this is pretty natural and to be expected when we’re busy busting our butts to create thriving businesses (as well as juggling those thousand other roles!). The key part is what you choose to do next. Do you:
Which category do you usually fall into? Most commonly, I’d say it’s mostly B with a touch of A. We don’t have time to be ill, but instead of taking steps to avoid getting to that stage in the first place we push on until the symptoms are too hard to ignore and THEN we try to do something about it.
I have huge respect and admiration for our medical system, but when it comes to physical and metal illness, unfortunately it’s there to address the symptoms, not the source and as a culture, we are guilty of this too. We mask aches with painkillers and insomnia with sleeping pills. The NHS don’t have the time or resources to spend figuring out why we need treatment, they just work to get us back on our feet as quickly as possible. When the root of the problem isn’t addressed though, it’s only a matter of time till we’re back knocking on the door of our doctor.
We’re solely responsible for our own wellbeing – you get one shot at the body you’re in, so look after it and use it well. Stay one step ahead.
Instead of waiting until you’ve put your back out, get a postural assessment and find out where your points of weakness are. If you’re not getting restful sleep, take steps to address why instead of simply popping a Nytol. Falling out of love with your business because the stress feels too overwhelming? Don’t wait until you’ve crashed and burned to then try and figure out what you need to do to get back on top of your game.
See the bigger picture; whether it’s time or money, a small investment now can save that huge (somewhat surprising and usually very inconvenient) bill in the future.
Your body, your mind and your business will thank you for it in the long run.
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