“It turns out that the process of working toward a goal, participating in a valued and challenging activity, is as important to well-being as its attainment.”
– Sonja Lyubomirsky in “The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want”
Listen Like You Mean It
“Our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” says professor of psychiatry and Harvard researcher, Robert Waldinger.
So what can we do to better our relationships, and therefore our own health? One strategy is active listening.
Research agrees that active listening makes interactions better. It encourages us to really pay attention to what the other person is saying, and makes them feel more engaged and understood.
To listen actively:
- Make eye contact
- Reflect back and/or summarize what the person says
- Ask questions
- Use non-verbal feedback like leaning in and mirroring
- Try to listen without judgment and without interrupting
Keen to give it a shot? Try following this simple active listening activity which steps through it in a bit more detail. Don’t forget that you can use active listening with family members, colleagues, romantic partners, and pretty much anyone else you talk to!
Create A Wind-Down Routine
Want to have a restful night of sleep and wake up fully charged and ready to boss another day? Then get yourself an evening wind-down routine, stat.
“It’s a process where we intentionally put aside the events and worries from the day so they don’t get in the way of our having a restful night, something that’s essential to optimal brain restoration and functioning, memory, and learning,” says Psychology Today.
What to include in your routine? Anything that relaxes you and clears your mind. Here are some ideas:
- Take a warm bath
- Do some light reading
- Do some meditation, breathing exercises, or gentle stretches
- Listen to calming music
- Spend a few minutes preparing for the following day so you feel organized and ready to go (lay out gym clothes, tidy workspace, check schedule, etc.)
- Fill in the “End of Day Review” section of your Panda Planner as a way to reflect and end the day with a positive focus.
One thing you absolutely shouldn’t include in your wind-down ritual? Tech. Yep – sorry to say, but gadgets are not good for sleep.
Do you have an evening wind-down routine?
Whitney Wolfe Herd, Entrepreneur
You can find Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of (wildly successful) dating app Bumble, at number 39 on Forbes’ list of America's richest self-made women. Here’s how she starts her day:
- Wakes up between 6 and 7 am, then takes her dog out for a walk.
- Checks emails or hops on calls with Bumble’s London office (who are 6 hours ahead)
- Tries to fit in 30 minutes of exercise. “I think it’s important to be active even if it’s only for 30 minutes.”
- Makes a smoothie for breakfast using organic romaine, spinach, and blueberries.
- Fits in some more calls while she gets ready to go to the office.
Why it works:
- Walking + pet ownership is all the good things. Owning a dog has both physical and psychological benefits and walking is excellent for health.
- Having to jump straight onto emails and calls may not seem ideal, but the key here is that Whitney has created her routine around her unique work situation. At a time when so many people are working remotely, building your routine around your schedule is key.
- Strength training has incredible benefits for physical and mental health. Whitney says she tries “to alternate each day between legs, arms, and abs”.
There’s a never-ending debate in fitness circles around the benefits of split training (alternating muscle groups, like Whitney does) versus full-body training. Split training is great for giving muscles time to rest between sessions – though full-body training also has a raft of benefits.
The bottom line? As this 2020 study found, either option is going to do you good. The most important thing you can do when it comes to exercise..? Show up!
How’s your workout routine looking?