Mental Health Awareness Week: Tips On How Leaders Can Move More

There’s no doubt about it, being a leader, especially of a startup or SME, can be stressful and pressured, feeling we have to wear all the hats and work all the hours, but prolonged periods of stress and pressure is not good for our body, mind, or spirit.

As a hospitality leader, with over three decades of experience, I’ve been there; stretched, pressed and stressed! And, I knew that I couldn’t operate in that state for long – I knew I needed to take action and address my mental health.

Personally, I started to be more intentional and focus on making manageable adjustments to my daily and weekly routines and whilst the impact of small actions on their own may seem little, the cumulative effects of these habits can end up being profound.

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (13th-19th May) is movement and it’s so important to purposefully move more for your mental health.

I personally found that I was sitting stagnant for long periods of time… either for long hours in my car, or typing away at my desk, or sitting in meetings or events… I knew that this wasn’t good for my body or mindset. So, I’d like to share with you a few things that I have introduced into my daily/weekly routine that help me move more and feel better.

Reflection Walks - We all need some headspace and some real reflection time. I tend to do this on a Sunday, walk the dogs and just ponder for an hour or two. Setting aside time regularly to talk a walk and clear my head has been imperative to my physical and mental health.

Get Outside - Coming from Australia, I really do feel the lack of daylight and sunshine in the UK… so, I ensure that I get outside every day for at least 20 minutes, even if that means a brisk walk, instead of jumping in the car, to go to my next meeting – I see that as a benefit to my mindset and health.

Cheerleaders - At times of difficulty and/or stress, it’s important to know who our tribe is and who our cheerleaders are. Know who you can go to for; advice, help, a shoulder to cry on, a coffee… you could even arrange to meet them for a game of table tennis or squash.

Move more in meetings - Switch up how you do meetings - some of my best and most productive meetings and chats happen whilst walking along the River Dee in Chester! If the meeting has to take place in a conference room, make sure you set an alarm/agenda to ensure you have some regular breaks to get up, stretch and move.

Explore - As a hospitality and tourism advocate, I encourage everybody to be a tourist in their own region and beyond… I love exploring what is on offer in the UK and as we live and work between Chester and Liverpool we like to attend events happening in both cities - trust me, this is a great way to get those daily steps in whilst exploring great things on your doorstep.

Experts say that one of the most important things we can do to help protect our mental health is regular movement. Moving more can increase your energy, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost your self esteem… so, as leaders, let’s ensure we take action and adjust our daily or weekly routines, to ensure we have time set aside for daily movement.