The #hustle movement has been getting around for some time now; the word used to describe the 24/7 attitude supposedly needed to be successful. When you think hustle, you picture early morning, late finishes, gallons of coffee, brutal gym sessions, and skipping social occasions to work on your dreams. True success does take hard work, but what happens when that ‘hustle’ starts impacting on your health?
Realistically, the persistent stress that the aforementioned #hustling activities produce, may be holding you back from your best work.
It is well documented that poor sleep, chronic stress, and poor diet have a negative effect on your body and more importantly, your mind. It has been estimated that between 33-45% of Australian adults suffer from having inadequate sleep, and it is well known that chronic stress can impact several health parameters and impact on working memory. So, while a little bit of pressure can put you on the path of success, putting yourself under unrelenting pressure to be successful (whatever that looks like for you) may in fact be putting you behind the eight ball.
More recently, mindfulness and calmness have been the new cool kids on the block; and the goal of a consistently calm mind and the body does appear to be one worth chasing. Many #hustle converts are coming out of the woodworks and describing that implementing a slower more considered approach to their work and lifestyle has brought about benefits such as improved attention span, better mental clarity, enhanced creativity, better sleep, and improved body composition. So…where do we sign up! Here is your cool, calm, and collected starter kit!
Start with your breath. Sounds simple but long deep breathes help to slow your mind, lower your blood pressure, and provide a space for clear thought. Try taking a deep breath in for four counts, exhale for four counts, and repeat this for 2-3 minutes to start your day, or when you feel yourself starting to stress. Doing breathing exercises can also help you to calm your buzzing mind before bed to ensure you have a restful sleep - another very important part of the #Calm puzzle. Once you have mastered your breath, it’s time to make sure you are eating well!
The first recommendation here is to take the time to eat regular meals. Your brain uses up a lot of the energy you consume and by allowing it to have regular balanced meals, you can be certain that you will stay focussed and on task for longer. Want to get extra calm? It may benefit to consume protein-rich foods high in the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is the pre-cursor to our ‘happy’ hormone serotonin, and research suggests that diet can help boost its production. Foods such as turkey, whey, nuts, milk, eggs, and fish are all good sources of this calming amino acid and will also help you recover from exercise, which we all know is great for clearing the mind.
If you want to add icing to your calm cupcake, then there are some other plants that may have some benefits. Herbs have been used for centuries in Eastern cultures and in Western medicine, more and more work is being done to uncover the mechanisms behind why some herbs may benefit mood. Lemon Balm has long been associated with feelings of calmness and improved focus. Early research in the form of a clinical trial using a standardised lemon balm extract called Bluenesse, found that lemon balm supplementation was associated with improved mood, cognitive function, and reduction in stress. Turmeric has also been under the microscope for its health benefits.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which when consumed has been associated with anti-inflammatory benefits as well as having potential benefits for boosting hormones beneficial to brain function, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor. And there are many other natural options that we could add to the list as research catches up, but this is definitely a ‘watch this space’ area for the #calm community.
So, while a bit of hustle is required to get you over the line from time to time, in 2020 its about the considered and mindful approach to life. Take a minute and sit back - could you use any of these suggestions to create more calm?