The Inner Critic is that nagging voice in my head that holds me back and fills me with self-doubt. You have one, too. We all do. While it might seem benign, it can be detrimental to not just your mental health, but also your physical well-being.
You might do what I did for a long time and ignore it. But ignoring the Inner Critic can lead to a vicious cycle of self-neglect, resulting in a decline in your overall well-being. And as a leader, that comes with a heavy price.
Let’s consider one Inner Critic’s voice, Perfectionist Maestro. It’s within you and whispers lies such as, “If I do this perfectly, it will turn out my way,” convincing you that control is the only path to success. I used to listen to this voice, and all it led to was more work, rarely being satisfied, and less joy. This mindset caused many a sleepless night worrying about whether or not things were going to turn out well. It was unnecessary stress. This kind of stress, if unaddressed, will lead to a slew of health issues like high blood pressure, digestive issues, and even cardiac problems.
When your focus shifts entirely to self-reliance and control, you inevitably end up isolating yourself, refusing to seek help, and living in a perpetual state of fear and vulnerability. When I find my clients being overly self-reliant I remind them that while it’s generally considered positive, it can turn into a problem when it leads to perfectionism, self-imposed pressure, and a lack of self-empathy. I find that leaders are best when the take charge of the care of those that in their charge instead of being in charge of all things. To address this mindset, here are 5 Daily Habits to Optimize Your Health and silence your Inner Critic:
1. Mindfulness Meditation
How to Practice
Spend 10 minutes each day focusing on your breath and acknowledging your thoughts without judgment. Start with 30 seconds of deep breathing. As you make it a habit, lengthen your time in the mindfulness meditation. I use this myself as well as with all of my clients.
How it Benefits Leaders
Mindfulness helps to lower stress levels, making decision-making processes more straightforward and more effective. Bringing the boil down can only improve your recovery from a stressful situation as well as help you manage it better.
2. Intentional Eating
When I lost all my weight as a teenager, this is where I started. It was easy, too. Pay attention to what you eat, chew slowly, and appreciate every bite. It’s simple but not always easy to remain intentional. Start with putting the sandwich down between bites and finish chewing and swallowing before taking another bite. Same approach works with utensils. It’s amazing how much slower you will eat if you put your fork down before swallowing.
Why Leaders Should Care
A balanced diet can significantly improve your cognitive functions and energy levels, crucial for long-term success.
3. Disciplined Exercise
Incorporating both cardio and strength training into your routine will improve all other aspects of your life. I started running for 1 minute and walking for 2 minutes a day. It made it easy to do and less stressful on my body. I also started using a few sets of dumbbells for strength training. The first time, they were too heavy, and I was sore for weeks- The key takeaway- this is for life, so start small and stay disciplined.
Building a Routine
Start with a manageable routine and gradually increase the intensity. Start where you feel comfortable and continue to challenge yourself. If you need short and effective routines to do at home, DM me and I’ll send you some links to my favorite (free) workouts.
4. Adequate Sleep
Importance of Sleep
Sleep is when your body repairs itself; skimping on it can lead to severe health issues. I work with so many leaders who once slept for less than 6 hours per night and wore that as a badge of honor. Once they learned that that was a lie that their Inner Critic whispered to them, they prioritized sleep as the number 1 habit.
A 7 ½ – 8 ½ hours of sleep will:
- -increase your ability to respond to challenges
- -improve your clarity, creativity and optimism
- -improve your recall (memory) and learning
- -regulate your appetite and food cravings
- -protects you from dementia and cancer
- -wards off colds and flu
- -lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke
- -improves insulin sensitivity
- -and so much more!
Sleep Hygiene Tips
Adequate sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body health each day. Keep a consistent sleep schedule and make your bedroom a peaceful sanctuary. Turn off all electronics at least an hour before going to bed. Turn the lights down too. Keep the temperature in the room between 68 and 74 degrees. Stop all caffeine by noon so that it doesn’t interfere with the natural sleep cycle.
5. Emotional Self-Care
Identifying Emotional Triggers
In the fast world we live in, I find the leaders I work with allow their emotional well-being to often take a back seat to their professional goals and societal pressure. Identifying emotional triggers is the first step in taking ownership of their health and yours. Emotional triggers are events, words, people, tones, or experiences that evoke a strong emotional reaction that sets your Inner Critic off and leads to discomfort from all the negativity it evokes. They can be as obvious as a traumatic memory or as subtle as a particular smell.
How to Identify Them
I help my clients become aware of what triggers negative emotions using these tools:
- Breathwork: deep breathing can stop the stress response and create an interruption to the pattern.
- Self-reflection: Stop and think about what you’ve just felt. Can you give the feeling a label? What were the thoughts that preceded it? What was the situation?
- Journaling: Jot down every event that occurs answering the questions above. This is the easiest way to find patterns.
- Ask for help: Find a trusted friend or colleague that you can ask for an outside perspective. It will help you see it from a different perspective.
- Professional Guidance: A health and wellness coach, nutritionist, or psychologist can offer you direction and guidance along with tools that will help and create momentum for you.
I find that business leaders are great at coping with all sorts of stress and challenges except when it comes to their own health. I help them develop healthy coping mechanisms that include:
- Mindfulness practices and rituals
- Developing a support network
- Possitive affirmations
The most important thing is to steer clear of coping mechanisms that are self-defeating. Food, alcohol, or withdrawing from participating in social activities doesn’t solve any problem other than hunger. It might make you feel better for a short period of time, but it ends up making the issue worse.
Overcoming the Inner Critic
To optimize your health and silence the Inner Critic, integrate these five habits into your daily routine. These practices will not only make you healthier but also give you the confidence and emotional balance required to be an effective leader.
How long will it take to see the benefits?
Generally, it takes about 21 days to test whether a habit sticks and start noticing changes.
Is mindfulness meditation difficult to practice?
No, it’s straightforward. All it requires is 10 minutes of your day. Need help? DM me for a easy and short recording I can share with you.
What if I’m too busy to exercise?
Even short bursts of exercise can make a difference. Try to fit in mini-workouts during your day. I call them exercise snacks!
Can sleep really affect my leadership skills?
You better go back and read the benefits of sleep above! Inadequate sleep is the easiest habit to fix and the one that will have the most impact on your health.
How do I start emotional self-care?
The first step is awareness. Start by being a fly on the wall. Identify your emotional triggers and find healthy ways to cope. Need help? Click on this link to have a chat. https://letsmeet.io/proattitudes/30-minute-discovery-call
Want more of me: click this link: https://proattitudes.com/follow
We also have an amazing facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/proattitudestheb3way/