Pursue What Matters
Episode 223: Self-Leadership and Renewal
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
What does it mean to truly renew? Does it require two weeks on a deserted island? Well, while that sounds very nice and would indeed be renewing, you don’t need weeks away from your life in order to renew. And in fact, your ability to adopt daily practices of renewal can make all the difference for your well being.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:23
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast, where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Well, a deserted island sounds pretty nice. And it would be really helpful for a renewal. But today, I want to talk about some daily practices that can help you to have renewal on an ongoing basis, right life is challenging, you don’t want your only opportunities for renewal, to be places where you kind of exit your life. So we need to have some really effective renewal on a daily basis. And of course, I am in the middle of a self leadership series with you this summer, we’re talking all about the foundations of self awareness and self leadership, we’re talking about how curiosity is your secret weapon when it comes to effective leadership, either at home or at work. And we’re right in the middle of discussing the secure foundation. And so a secure foundation is what we need to make sure that we can thrive in life, both as a leader at home and at work. And so secure foundation is an acronym. And with this podcast, we’re in the middle of secure that acronym. And these are the non negotiables, the minimum requirement that you need to have in place for coping well, and so just as a quick review, S is for spirituality, E is for exercise, C is for creativity. U is for unplugging today we’re talking about our for renewal, and then coming up we’ll talk about E which is eating mindfully. And so if you haven’t checked out the other podcast as part of this secure foundation, I would encourage you to go ahead and do that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:32
So today, again, our topic is renewal. And every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead in one of three areas. So first, leading with clarity, which is all about connecting to purpose. Second, is leading with curiosity, which is what we’re in the middle of exploring right now. And then third is leading and building a community. And as you engage curiosity, you will strengthen those other two areas. And so today with a podcast, we’re gonna focus first on why renewal is essential to self leadership, we’re going to talk about how you can improve your sleep hygiene, too many of us are not sleeping well. And we need to do what we can to help ourselves really get some good sleep, we’re also going to focus on how you can prioritize physical, emotional and mental recovery. That is so key when it comes to well being and really thriving in life. And then we’re going to talk about how you can review and renew your commitments in an ongoing basis, because it’s easy to you know, be inspired and say, I’m going to be really focused on my commitments, and then life happens. And we kind of get pulled into the tidal wave. And so, you know, today we’re going to talk about some daily practices that can help you stay steady on your path. So let’s start by taking a look at what it means. What it means to renew, right, what is renewal. So it’s to make like new, which sounds pretty good, right? It’s to restore freshness, vigor, or perfection. I’m not a fan of the word perfection. I like the Hebrew term that it’s I think it’s actually maybe Greek. We use this in religious settings as well. But instead of perfection, thinking about wholeness, what helps to restore freshness, vigor, or wholeness. And I think that’s a really good goal when it comes to renewal. And another way of thinking about renewal is that it’s the act of starting again, to begin or take up again. And so you know, like I said, In the beginning, if your only renewal or reset is with a vacation, maybe once a year, you’re not going to be in good shape. And so this act of starting again, renewing should be actually a daily practice. And so today, of course, I really want to make the case To help you recognize that you need rest, recovery and renewal in order to function optimally. And the other goal is to help you see that it’s maybe not as hard as it may seem, I think, I think we make self care and renewal activities a little more complicated than they need to be. And that’s a real problem, because then we end up not doing anything and and continue on our path of burnout.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:28
So, you know, we want to think about, we want to think about some questions that really helped us to consider where we’re at with renewal. And so this is a great quote from LM Browning, we all have those things that help carry us through life, it is important that these things upon which we depend for daily strength, are healthy for our character, rather than harmful. So we talked about this a few weeks ago, I think we talked about externalizing, and internalizing behaviors, and those can be daily habits that are not helpful for us that might end up being pretty harmful for us. And so continuing on with LM Browning, we must ask ourselves, whether the comforts we reach for each day are vices or virtues, do they feed the best parts of us? Or do they rob us of them, even when we are at our most fatigued and are tempted to reach for self destructive things, we must try to seek out and take solace in those things that will lead to our eventual renewal, rather than those things that will only serve to bring us lower. So I think there’s a lot packed into this quote. And I think the first thing just to acknowledge and I think it’s refreshing with this quote, is to recognize that that pole to some of those vices is a pretty normal thing, it’s kind of part of the human condition. And so if you find yourself being pulled towards some of those behaviors that you would consider to be vices or less helpful for you, you know, have some compassion for yourself, because that’s kind of what it means to be human. And it doesn’t mean that that’s an excuse, but it helps you to, to at least, maybe not beat up on yourself or not get stuck in shame, which we know, if you’re hard on yourself about these behaviors, it’s going to be even harder to make different choices. The other thing I really like about these quotes is that there are some really good questions to reflect on. Right? So do the comforts we reach for, feed the best parts of us? Or do they rob us of our best parts, and this is where your values really come into play. This is where we want to really think about distress and, and attachment and the role of those internalizing or externalizing behaviors, right with we’re numbing as our main form of coping, and we’re gonna set ourselves up for trouble. And so of course, instead of turning to numbing behaviors, we really want to look to rest, recovery, and renewal as foundational to our self care. And so let’s, let’s move on to our to rest, right, so.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:12
So with the podcasts, I’m going to, I’m talking about three R’s to really help you rest, recovery and renewal, we’ve already kind of introduced renewal, it’s really the key here. And now let’s talk a bit more about rest. So the thing that we know about Americans is that we are not getting enough sleep. And so a really important part of renewal is rest. We need to learn to listen to our bodies and respond in kind. A lot of times when we’re tired, we write we respond to the wrong cues. So we’re tired and so we might go get caffeine or we’re tired, or we might go get something to eat, rather than, you know, taking five or 10 minutes and resting rather than, you know, making a commitment to go to bed 15 minutes earlier. And so, of course, sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle, and health. However, there are recommendations that can provide guidance on how much sleep you need, generally. And if you just take, you know, like the 30,000 view, so step way back. As humans, we spend 1/3 of our life sleeping, right. So getting sleep right is well worth your time. We don’t want to scrimp on it. We want to make sure that we’re prioritizing good sleep hygiene practices, so that we really are setting ourselves up for optimal functioning. So it’s been a while but I have done a podcast specifically on sleep. So I will. I will link to that in the show notes, but just know that I have a deep dive on sleep. If you find after this podcast that you want. You want To learn more about it. So as mentioned, as humans, our hours of sleep really vary across the lifespan. Okay, so for adults, right, so, so most of our listeners are adults, between the ages of 26 and 64. The the range of optimal hours of sleep is anywhere between six hours and 10 hours. So that’s even across adults, that’s a four hour gap. But for most of us, right, so the recommended amount of sleep for adults, is between seven and nine hours, okay. And so depending on, depending on you, your body, your lifestyle, the demands, you may need more towards 10, you may need fewer, like six. So for me, you know, through the work week, I do really well on about six hours of sleep. And now that’s, that’s outside the ideal window. But what I find is, if I can have a quick nap in the afternoon, then I do pretty well. And I don’t do much better, with more hours of sleep. So I’ve kind of played with this. And so I don’t do much better by getting moving more to seven or eight hours. And so that is, you know, that is sleep cycle that works pretty well for me. At this stage in my life, there have been other stages where that didn’t didn’t work well, where I needed more sleep, depending on the demands, on my schedule. And on on my body, right. And so it’s just important to recommend to realize that you’re somewhere probably in that window, and that being able to respect that. So here are some questions to kind of help you maybe get a sense for where is a good spot for you? So are you productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality sleep to get you into high gear? So maybe just observe? So you could maybe spend a week just taking note of about how much sleep you’ve gotten and your energy level throughout the day? Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Or are you at risk for any disease, these things will impact your sleep? Are you actively experiencing sleep problems? For instance, you’re having a hard time falling asleep, you’re waking up in the middle of the night, you have fractured sleep? Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day? If the answer is yes to that, that’s a good sign that maybe you’re not getting enough sleep, or you need to just build in some rest periods during the day, a lot of us, you know, move through our day very dependent on caffeine. And as humans, we’re not designed to be dependent on caffeine.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:02
And so if you find yourself having to take more and more, that should really be a gut check for you. And consider decreasing your caffeine and really prioritizing some of these sleep practices that I’m talking about today. And then another question, do you feel sleepy when driving, that’s also another good sign that you’re probably not getting enough sleep. And so if you’re getting around seven hours of sleep, and you notice some of those signs, try bumping it up to eight hours. And let’s just see how you do. And usually when people are getting their optimum amount of sleep, they have a lot more energy for the day, and they’re much more productive. So you might feel like oh, I don’t have another hour of sleep to give. But you will get that back in in the form of more energy and more focus during your day. So it’s a really good trade off there. And then I’m just going to note that teenagers between 14 and 17 need between seven and 11 hours. So make sure you’re prioritizing your teenager sleep. And then school aged kids need between six and 13 hours, or sorry, between a seven and 12 hours of sleep. So that’s for school aged kids.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:16
So I was visiting with my kids about a week ago. And you know, we were just having fun thinking about, you know, memories. And they said you always made us go to bed so early. And I said that’s because I know the research on sleep and you you all benefited from it. And they’re all They’re all good sleepers at this point. But they weren’t always happy about it because you know, they had friends that had much later, bad times. So the other thing that I want to talk about just briefly, is sleep hygiene. So again, I’ve done a deep dive podcast on this topic, so definitely check that out if you want to learn more, but sleep hygiene includes a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have to in order to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness. So obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health. And it can also improve productivity and overall quality of life. Right I mentioned that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:13
So some of the signs of poor sleep hygiene, frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. In In addition, if you’re taking too long to fall asleep, you should consider evaluating your sleep routine and revisit revising your bedtime habits, just a few simple changes can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a night spent tossing and turning, which is like one of the worst feelings like being so. So being tired and wired, right where you’re really tired, but you can’t get to sleep. That’s another area where caffeine can really be undermining you. So let’s talk about some simple ways to improve sleep hygiene. The first is to avoid stimulants. So if you must have your caffeine, make sure you’re doing that in the morning. Don’t take caffeine, especially after 2pm I would say don’t do caffeine after like about noon. Another thing you can do to improve sleep hygiene is exercising. So a good exercise plan. Regular moderate exercise is a big driver of good sleep. Another thing you can do is avoid food that can disrupt sleep. So maybe you notice a big heavy meal before bedtime impacts your sleep. And this is definitely true for people.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:36
And so you know, sometimes you might experience some gastric reflux or you’re just you know, your stomach is too full to be able to rest well. And so if you notice that that is an issue for you, maybe work on, you know, ending, eating at least two hours before bedtime and see if that helps you to do a little bit better. Another way to improve sleep hygiene is by getting adequate exposure to like this is really important, it affects our melatonin. And so getting out in the sun during the daytime, obviously, that’s when the sun is up. And getting that sun on your eyeballs obviously do not look directly in the sun. But a lot of times, right, like we’re very good about sunscreen, and that’s an awesome thing. But our bodies also need vitamin D. And so even getting like 10 to 15 minutes of some direct sunlight that’s not blocked by sunscreen. You know, not blocked by sunglasses can be really helpful for you, again, don’t look directly at the sun. But this adequate exposure to light really helps us with melatonin which helps to regulate our sleep cycles. Another way to improve sleep hygiene is a regular relaxing bedtime routine. This is a game changer. This is this is one of the best things that you can do for sleep hygiene. And it’s the one that most people overlook.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:01
So they’re on their screens right up until bedtime, maybe even in bed. They’ve gone from maybe checking emails or taking care of kiddos to then landing in bed and expecting themselves to sleep. And the body needs time to down regulate, the body needs time to wind down. And so what I would recommend is in the 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime use that’s your wind down cue. So turning down the lights in the house, you know taking a shower or bath or washing your face getting your PJs on. This is where we would engage in quiet activities. So we have the phones, the screens put away. And what what are some quiet activities that can gear you down for sleep. Whether that is scripture reading, whether that is gentle stretching, that’s one of my favorite bedtime routines, it just helps me sleep so much better. And I kind of loosen everything up before bedtime. Reading is a good one. Just don’t read anything too stimulating. So if it’s like a horror book that’s got your heart rate up, that’s probably not the best one to read right before bedtime. Plus, you might have some nightmares, but something that can be gentle, soothing, like I love reading things for work, but I don’t read those at that time, because that will just keep me thinking about work and that will get in the way of sleep. So having a routine that choose your body and your mind that it’s time to wind down can be super helpful. Another thing that you can do to improve sleep hygiene is having a pleasant sleep environment. This has been complicated with COVID where we’re working from our homes and our beds and our bedrooms, but what can you do to clear your room make sure that it is used for two things only right for for you adults with us and that all other stimuli really is eliminated as much as possible. And then you can and also improve sleep hygiene by smart napping. So I’ve done a lot on the podcast already about napping. I am. I am a nap zealot. I already mentioned that I nap every day. But first. First, you know, we won’t go over all of that right now. But an A short nap in the early afternoon can be very helpful for you. It won’t have it doesn’t necessarily have to be disruptive of sleep, but you want to keep it brief, you don’t want to go more than about 20 minutes. That really seems to give us the reset that we need without moving us into a deeper sleep cycle. And so the benefits of naps are many they help us to recharge think more clearly improve memory, mitigate poor sleep.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:48
So if you’re not sleeping well a nap can help without disrupting your sleep. They can help relieve stress, boost immunity, improve health, and they just feel good. I just absolutely love naps. And so consider how that could be helpful. So when it comes to napping, there are a few guidelines. So first, keep it short, 30 minutes or less. It’s important to remember that the older you get, the more you benefit from napping. So if you’re noticing, you need more naps, that’s okay, embrace it. You don’t need to sleep, you can simply lay down and close your eyes and you will still get some restorative benefits. And then like I mentioned early afternoon is best. Don’t go too late or you indeed will disrupt your sleep cycle. Okay, so now let’s talk about recovery. So remember, I said that I had three R’s. Today, we’re talking all about renewal, we just talked about rest. And now let’s talk about recovery. So it’s important to keep in mind that stress has a cumulative effect on our mind and body. If you don’t have built in recovery time, you will pay a high price over time in physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, burnout or injury.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:00
So this means you need to actively schedule time for recovery, just like you scheduled other activities. And I’m dead serious about that. When I think about recovery, like I scheduling time for recovery, I definitely do that and my week. And it’s made a big difference in terms of my well being, and just, you know, sense of purpose and connection. Because when we’re burned out, we don’t have time for connection and love and purpose driven living. So if you aren’t proactive about recovery, you know that stress will continue to build until you get to a breaking point. So you know what weekends are really good reset time for recovery. But I hope that you will take a look at your calendar and build in some recovery time during the week. So recovery really is a non negotiable. Either you make time for recovery, or it will be forced on you in the form of illness, injury, burnout, or breakdown, we really don’t want that to happen. So it is your choice. But we want to make sure that you have a secure foundation. And so first when we think about physical recovery, you know, with your workouts right, so I’ve talked about making sure you’re getting regular exercise. You know, it’s not uncommon to be sore or tight after a workout. This is an inflammatory response due to the breakdown of muscle tissue. It’s nothing to worry about unless you’re in severe pain, which obviously you need to address that. But it’s again, like it’s not necessarily a problem, because it also, you know, you need to have some of that experience we call it DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness, because it helps you to avoid workout plateaus. So if you work out and you’re never sore, that’s actually a problem because it means you’ve probably hit a plateau. And so we do want to make sure that you’re addressing that though, and one of the best things you can do is just having a routine of mobility or stretching every day. So whether that is off, you know for sure before and after your workouts as part of warm up on cooldown. But then also later in the day, whether that’s in the afternoon when you need a break, or like I do right before bedtime. These can be gentle stretches. It doesn’t have to be extensive. You could also consider Yoga. But think about gentle yoga. What is your intention with yoga, there’s times I go to yoga and it’s like, I want a really good workout. And there are other times I go to yoga, it’s like I I need some recovery. And so you know, my approach in yoga looks different on those days. And so just this is where Curiosity and awareness about your body is so important because it can help you to respond to your needs appropriately. Having a foam roller can be really helpful. We just don’t want to be gnashing against that. foam roller, but it’s all it’s very helpful helpful for myofascial release, which can relieve tension in the muscles connective tissue. And so there are some really good guidances online for how to use a foam roller appropriately. So there is a wrong way to use a foam roller. But that can be a really nice simple tool that you could, that you could use, you know, we have a foam roller in our basement with all of our exercise stuff. But actually, for Christmas a couple years ago, I got my husband, a mini one for for the closet so that he could use it every night. And that’s been helpful for him. So it doesn’t have to be extensive. It could be just a few few moments, but the foam rollers can be really helpful. And next, let’s talk about mental and emotional recovery. So really, this whole series we’re talking about a lot of that. Last week, we talked about unplugging from work having good boundaries. We’ve also talked last week about playing and devoting time to personal relationships and hobbies, this can make a big difference. And then the last thing that I want to talk about today as it relates to renewal is reviewing and renewing your commitments. And so at the end of your work week, or before you begin a new week, take time to review and renew your commitments. So the first step is to review your commitments. So what are your goals for the year? What are your goals for the for the quarter? How are you doing?
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:35
Are you you know, is there evidence of those in your daily life? How can we bring those commitments into your weekly calendar. The next is an Accountability Review where you can look at your commitments and your goals are your desires for daily coping and ask how you’re doing. You can ask what’s getting in the way? Do you need to course correct, it’s okay, if you do that happens for all of us. But review what worked well in the prior week and pull that ahead and apply it in the week ahead. Some other questions to ask, as you review your week, what were you able to accomplish? Where did you get stuck? What worked? What didn’t work? What will you continue? And what will you do differently. So I think these are really good curiosity questions just to help you assess it’s not about judgment or self criticism. But it is really looking as a curious observer to your calendar and seeing what was effective and where you need a little more focused guidance. And then the the next thing that we want to do this out the step two is to renew your commitment. So based on your review, it’s time to renew your commitment to your goals, and then set your top three priorities for the week ahead and ensure that they are aligned with your focus with your goals for the year.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:03
So this is something that we really want to we want to be reviewing most days, definitely once a week, it takes about 15 minutes, but having some sort of accountability system where you are taking the time to review and renew your commitments. And so I hope that that can be helpful for you. And that that is a weekly practice that helps you to stay on track with your renewal activities. And so today on the podcast, we made the case for the fact that in order to function optimally as a leader at home or at work, you must plan for rest, recovery and renewal. We talked about the importance of sleep hygiene and how it can pave the way for more refreshing sleep and more energy and productivity. So big benefits there. I encouraged you to schedule recovery time, just like you would schedule other activities. I’m dead serious about that. I hope you will do that. And then at the end of each week, I invited you to review your progress blocks and lessons and then renew your commitment to pursue what matters most to you. As you look to the week ahead.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:21
Head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/223-selfleadershipandrenewal .Of course, I will link to the sleep podcast that I did if you want a deeper dive into that topic. And otherwise, I would love to connect with you on Instagram @dr.melissasmith. I always have more information about each of the podcast episodes there and I would love to connect with you. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is until next time and take good care
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