This will be short because I have a plane to catch. I’m off to the Wisconsin countryside for a week to take the very advice I am about to impart. I don’t ordinarily go for quick fixes because they ordinarily don’t work – but my recommendation today is an exception.
Here are three ways to improve your life. Now.
Stand up: Turns out that smoking cigarettes, over-eating and drinking too much alcohol are not the biggest dangers to your health. Research is increasingly proving that the worst thing you can do to yourself is sit for long periods of time, like most of us do day after day in front of all sorts of screens. Too much sitting stifles your blood flow, raises your blood pressure, stiffens your muscles and can lead to heart disease, cancer and a host of other life-shortening issues you don’t want to have.
Back away from work and go outside: Our culture has us believing that we will be more productive if we stay inside banging away at projects and problems. We only have to venture outdoors, look up at the sky and breathe fresh air for a few moments to see that this idea is pure nonsense. Science has shown that just observing nature for a minute or two reduces your heart rate and stress level. Regularly immersing yourself in the elements, particularly the greenery of summer, boosts your concentration and creativity – and fresh air wakes you up way more than caffeine does.
Unplug from work for sustained stretches: Almost half of American adults don’t take real vacations – and not because they don’t have the time coming; they’re just afraid they won’t be able to catch up or get ahead if they take an extended break. Not surprisingly, studies show that those who regularly extract themselves from work long enough to really unwind and rejuvenate tend to return more enthusiastic and sharper, and thus get promoted more and earn more money than those who don’t.
So if you’ve been telling yourself that you can’t get outside and enjoy what little summer we have left because you’ll interrupt your momentum and lose out somehow, stop being ridiculous. There’s no arguing that closing yourself off to the outside world is a sure way to avoid distractions and get things done. But you can accomplish significantly more in the long run by seizing opportunities to let your body and mind move freely – just like I’m about to do – in the great outdoors.