I have the pleasure of being a Drive Against Depression (DAD) mental wellness network practitioner. Yesterday was the Autumn Drive Day and now that I’m back home and my car is washed, polished and safely tucked up in the garage again, I reflected on what an amazing day it had been...as I brushed my teeth.
I met so many incredible people and can’t put into words just how special it was. I had the opportunity to speak to the group for a few minutes before the drive and I chose to talk about 2 of my 8 keys to peak performance. Gratitude and Incidental Activity.
Throughout my career, it has become very clear that it is the little things, the 1%ers that add up to changing people's lives. When Athletes improve their performance it is not something big they found under a rock somewhere, it’s the consistency of doing the little things a little bit better every day that makes the difference. Doing 100 things 1% better! And that doesn’t stop when you get off the sports field, it’s the same for you and I. When I brush my teeth, I make sure that I think about the great things that have happened to me or that I’ve been able to do for other people that day. This focusing on the positive for 4 minutes a day enables me to ‘prime’ my brain to look out for more positive things tomorrow.
For thousands of years, our brains focusing on threats and negative things kept us alive, but now there is no Sabre-tooth tiger hiding behind the sofa it's not helping us! Our brains have become velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good - our brains are still wired to focus on the negative, so practices like journaling what you’re grateful for aim to counteract this and prime our brains to notice the positive things that are around us. When you start out, if you struggle, start small...did someone smile at you when you walked into a shop, did you get to go for a walk and feel the sunshine on your face or did you have the chance to make someone a cup of tea and make their day? All these things add up and over time you’ll find it easier to identify and remember all the positive things in your day. The research is clear, gratitude rituals have a significant positive impact on people’s feeling of wellbeing.
Another ‘little’ thing that adds up are my '10 marathons a year' that I spoke of! I’ve never run a full Marathon (and I never will) but my alarm going off every 20 minutes during my workday to remind me to stand up and walk around will gain the benefit of 10 marathons this year (without the physio bill). Research has shown that swapping 4 of your 8 hours at work for standing (rather than sitting) is the same metabolic load over a year as doing 10 marathons. Therefore, I split my day into 30 minutes chunks, 20 minutes sitting, eight minutes standing, and two minutes walking. Our bodies evolved to move A LOT and there just hasn’t been enough time for our bodies to evolve to be sedentary and still remain to be healthy. So get that egg timer out people and break up your seated time!
These are just two examples of the little things that add up to have a big impact and I’ve seen it time and time again in and out of the sporting arena. Over the last 20 years I’ve created, what I believe, to be the 8 keys to peak performance and the two examples above of incidental physical activity and gratitude are just two of them. I’ve seen these work in the sporting arena and translated them for the everyday athlete like you and I.
Being able to speak to the collective group at the start and then connecting with the participants of the DAD Autumn drive day throughout the day was an absolute pleasure and I really hope that I get to have many more of those conversations in the drive days to come.