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Mental Health

Why I Intend to Nap More in 2020 for My Mental and Physical Health

This is a guest post written by Ishtar Schneider, who works as an Account Director (Health) for global integrated communications agency Edelman London.

Ok ok, I know we’re halfway through January but with the craziness of the holidays finally in the rear view I’m only just getting around to thinking about my goals for 2020.

Kicking off the new decade and with my third decade of life just around the corner, I really wanted set some clear intentions about how I mean to continue – in particular around my mental and physical health.

Working in PR is consistently ranked as one of the top ten most stressful careers and workload is the number one reason industry practitioners feel stressed at work according to the latest PRCA UK Census.

I’m pleased that the comms industry is starting to make steps towards improving mental wellbeing at work, but we’re definitely not there yet and I’ve been on the lookout for things I – and others – can do to ensure we have the mental health railguards in place to support long and healthy careers in comms.

I recently saw an article in the BMJ that highlighted the affect napping for short periods of time can have on your cardiovascular health.

This research showed that people who napped occasionally, once to twice weekly, had a nearly half (48%) reduction in heart attack/stroke/heart failure risk compared with those who didn’t nap at all.

Then, this week a new study linked burnout to an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) – an irregular heartbeat – a major cause of stroke. Being female and only too aware that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the UK, I decided to dig a little deeper.

Research also shows that taking a nap helps to clear information out of your brain’s temporary storage areas – helping your brain recover from ‘burnout’ or overload of information.

So, when thinking about an appropriate goal for improving both my mental and physical health this year, you can imagine how pleased I was to add a weekly nap to my schedule. It ticks both boxes!

As silly as it sounds, napping is just one of the things I’m planning to be more intentional about when it comes to my overall health this year.

Second on the list – improved posture. TIME Magazine recently reported on research showing that the way we walk can also have an affect on our mental health – with participants who slouch over when walking more likely to experience worse moods and remember negatives, rather than positives, than those who stood up straight.

Finally (and yes I have more goals than just these three but I won’t bore you with all of them here), I’ll be heading into 2020 at a quickened pace.

Why? Healthy adults who are slow walkers have been shown to be two times more likely to die from heart disease as those who walk at a sharper pace.

That’s as good enough a reason as any for me to put a bit more pep in my step. So while I’ll be trying to slow down my thinking and clear my head, I’ll also be doing my best to pick up my pace on the way.

I may not know exactly where I’m heading this year, but I know I’ll be getting there quickly, well-rested, with my head held high. Will you join me?

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Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.