“Self-Leadership” has been defined as “the way to lead others is by leading oneself” (Manz and Sims, 2001). In most studies, self-leadership was measured by asking respondents to rate their use of so called self-leadership strategies. Results of these studies showed that self-leadership could be grouped into four categories: strategies to create (1) constructive thoughts, (2) natural rewards, (3) successful or efficient behaviors, and (4) vitality.
Are you curious how you are doing in terms of self-leadership?
Secret Ingredient # 2: Physical Vitality Strategies*
There are three types of physical vitality strategies: strategies to (1) release tension; (2) pursue a healthy diet; and (3) exercise.
(1) Physical Relaxation through Tension Release
To release tension, pick one of the many relaxation techniques. Engage in mindful breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or yoga. When people used tension release at work, they reported being less stressed and reported that their sleep quality and feelings of inner balance improved. As you effectively release tension, you will be more likely to experience improved well-being. Participants’ well-being was measured by asking them about their job satisfaction and satisfaction with life in general.
Participants who used tension release strategies (even if they did not use a lot of self-leadership strategies) reported high satisfaction with their personal life as well as on the job than those who did not use tension release strategies. Your takeaway, you are asking? Take a deep breath and start beating depression, anxiety, and stress!
(2) The Pursuit of a Healthy Diet
We learn from early on in life that eating a healthy diet is essential for well-being. We have witnessed various trends how food is supposed to be good for us. Food allow us to fuel our body for vigor and perseverance. We learned that we should eat certain amounts of foods from certain food groups. While food trends seem to come and go, most recently the link between your gut, your immune system, and your communication between your gut and your brain (we call that gut brain axis) as well as your heart received more attention in the media. People in non-Western cultures may have practiced a holistic way of using foods (for vigor, for healing the body) for a long time. In contrast, in the Western world, we only recently have witnessed how studies of the gut microbiome (bacteria living in the gut) point us to great benefits of eating healthily.
The workplace is catching up on this messages: organizations offer comprehensive wellness programs to support their employees in the pursuit of a healthy diet. Such wellness programs tend to be evaluated by whether or not they increase employees’ job satisfaction and performance. Comprehensive wellness programs typically consist of interventions to increase employees’ engagement in physical activity and provide information about healthy dieting and nutrition. Researcher who took a look at all recent publications of wellness programs found that there is not a lot of research yet on how employers’ support of their employees’ pursuit of a healthy diet can subsequently enhance the employees’ well-being on the job and at home. More for us to study!
(3) Physical Exercise
If you exercise more frequently, you can expect that better coping with all aspects of your life. As there are so many types of exercise available today, choose any physical exercise (e.g., strength training, aerobic exercise, activities such as brisk walking to increase your heart rate) you wish to engage in. Prior to giving your central nervous system, your brain, and your heart a good workout, consult with your primary care physician (just to be on the safe side).
Physical exercise seems to buffer the negative effects associated with stress. Specifically, physical exercise seems to act as a coping mechanism that empowers you to deal with critical life events and demands. An Austrian study found that employees who moderately exercised in the evening reported enhanced positive mood and general well-being. Additional studies with employees showed that physically fit individuals reacted less stressed to challenging events compared to those people who did not work out. In particular, people who exercised interpreted stressful events differently and reported a greater sense of control of their lives than individuals who did not exercise. Are you one of them?
Are you curious how you are doing in terms of your physical vitality?
If you are more curious about the degree of physical vitality, test yourself here.
What Role Does Self-leadership Play for Optimal Physical Vitality?
A recent study showed that f you are a person who uses self-leadership strategies to a greater degree, your well-being does not depend that much on the extent to which you release tension, work out, and eat healthily. The study also showed that if you are using less self-leadership strategies, your well-being will be more dependent on whether you use physical vitality strategies. Access a copy of the study here.
Ready to take a look at your self-leadership?
*No content, product, or service by Tools for Sustainable Vitality Inc., regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. © Tools for Sustainable Vitality Inc.