What’s in your “Health Stack” | Richard Harris

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“We need to start treating the mind as importantly as we treat the body. We need to understand the process of health just like we understand the process of sales or marketing”

For years we have been poked, prodded, cajoled and pretty much forced to swallow to make sure we have the strongest “Sales Stack”, “Marketing Stack”, and “Customer Success” stack. Which is actually ok. But like everything, if we pay too much attention to one thing, we often overlook another.

We need these tools to be better at our jobs, to be more efficient and more effective. 

We also need tools to help us be our better selves.

Yet when it comes to the single greatest “factory” we live in 24/7, we don’t always do the things necessary to keep the machine running.

I am talking about your body and your mind. 

  • Want to be better at sales? Educate yourself and practice your pitch, get the right tools, get quality data.

  • Want to be better at marketing? Educate yourself and learn how to run multiple projects, get the right tools, talk to more customers. 

  • Want to be a better you? STOP ignoring the voices in our heads that tell us “you know better”

Of course for the last many, many years, we’ve been preached the value of physical health.  “Exercise, exercise, exercise!”

And on top of that, we’ve been “Dieted to Death”... Gluten-Free, South Beach, Adkins, Intermittent Fasting and the list goes on. 

Everyone seems to say, “And if you do this, then it helps you mentally too!”

And then the advice stops. Cold. 

What’s left for some, is the inspiration to do those things.

However, many of us (myself included), feel like we’ve been beaten down, degraded, shunned, shamed, and sadly, misunderstood.

Where everyone “stops” the conversation around mental health, is really just the starting point. 

I think it’s important to not only continue the conversation but actually turn the whole thing upside down and talk about mental health before physical health!

I can hear the HR department and Lawyers saying “We can’t do that! We put ourselves at risk!” 

My answer to them is “bullshit”. 

  • You cannot claim to “support your employees” and ignore mental health.

  • You cannot claim to “support a work/life balance” and ignore mental health

  • If you are chasing the revenue dragon, then you are ignoring mental health for your employees, and in some cases yourself.

  • If you are chasing the revenue dragon, without supporting the humans in your company, then you are just a “drug dealer” in the corporate world.

In fact, check out the data on the state of mental health from Mental Health America here.

It gets worse for sales. 

There are very few roles in an organization where taking “mental health day(s)” has as much of a direct and immediate impact on income and potentially your job.

So what’s the answer. Well, it’s multi-pronged.

First, understand the difference between mental health and mental illness.  While not an expert, general thoughts in defining the difference are:

  1. Stop thinking of mental health as mental illness. They are different things. 

  2. Mental health is around general well being (internal).

  3. Mental illness is often associated with negative actions based on mental health. (external)

Second, we need to start treating the mind as importantly as we treat the body. We need to understand the process of health just like we understand the process of sales or marketing. 

Introducing “The Health Stack” 

These are the things that we can control when things get out of control. Not everything is for everyone, and perhaps you have something you do differently that helps.

  1. 3 Deep breaths- You’d be surprised how fast your mind clears when you sit still and take 3 deep breaths. It takes about 10-15 seconds.

  2. Support- Family, friends, clergy, co-worker

  3. Meditation- I’ve personally done 3500 minutes of meditation in 9-minute increments, that’s 59 hours. That’s 9 days of vacation I’ve created for myself in 15 months.

  4. Therapists- Yup, it works. And you may have to spend time finding the right one. It can be frustrating, but even finding the wrong one is a positive step because it shows your grit to want to change something. 

  5. Adult Coloring Books- A friend recommended these to me and while not my forte, I can definitely see the value. 

  6. Weighted Blankets- As my 9-year old said, “Wow, it’s like someone cuddling with me all night long.” Who doesn’t want that feeling?

  7. 12 step programs- Yes, if you are struggling with something, these are a great place to spend time. Even if you just show up and listen. I specifically separate this from other support as it feels different in my mind.

  8. Exercise- Yes, this matters, but it’s not always about high-intensity cardio. Sometimes we just need to go for a walk, yes, a quick 5-minute walk around the block really does help clear the mind.

  9. Diet- Again, yes this is important. I recently found a new app called “Eat Right Now”. It combines meditation and a compassionate understanding of how some of us struggle with our relationship with food. It’s done in small daily exercises and the results and impacts are felt immediately. It teaches you to understand your relationship with food, how to address and change it if you want, and how to even ride out “cravings”.

My Own Personal Health Stack

I certainly try to practice what I share, so here’s insights as to my own Personal Health Stack:

  1. Family- my wife and I make sure to have real "how was your day" conversations. I still read to my boys, ages 11 and 9. I also spend about 10 minutes in their room at bedtime, literally talking about our day. They will ask me things like, who did you talk to at work? What did they want help with? And "did they hire you?"  We will also talk about their days and, in the end, it's just a way for us to ground ourselves. 

  2. Meditation- This has been huge for me.  My kids notice a difference and my youngest likes listening to Headspace Inc. at bed time. In the last week, he's asked to also listen to ocean sounds or rain sounds. This can coordinate with #1 nicely.  I do it in small bits, 10 minutes or so each day. I've done over 7,000 minutes of meditation. Essentially, I create a week and a half of "vacation time" where I don't have to think about anything. 

  3. Talk Therapy- I have been doing it a LONG time and I LOVE going to see my therapist. 

  4. Medication- Under doctor supervision, I am a fan of western medicine. 

  5. Reading- I've read more in the last 3 years than I can ever remember. I do it in small bits, 20 minutes per day- I find more value in life and business from reading non business books most of the time.

  6. Business Community- Building a community which combines real friends and business friends. Those who know me, have empathized with me and their support me means a lot.  Specifically Sales Hacker, Modern Sales Pros and folks like Scott Leese, John Barrows, Max Altschuler, Trish Bertuzzi, Amy Volas and Peter Kazanjy. By creating these communities where I can share ideas and learn from others does wonders on your down days. Even if it's not a bad business day. I can engage with this community and it will lift my spirits. 

  7. Vulnerability- Publicly sharing my own struggles. I've been overwhelmed by the response and support I've received since sharing my own struggles. 

  8. UNCrushed- Tim Clarke and Lindsey Boggs for lighting a fire under my butt to help get everyone to share and learn at their own comfort level.

  9. Friends- My friends outside of work have been very supportive and apparently when I shared my struggles, they willingly opened up to me about theirs.  Now, some of the folks from #6 and #8 are my friends.

How Does Your Mental Health Stack Up?

So as we work to focus on our overall health, I encourage everyone to take inventory of their own mental health and see if there is something you want to change. If so, I hope this article has given you some ideas to take a step forward.

Remember, it's not a question of which step you take first, simply that you find one that feels like the right first step for you. 

Big thanks to Sales Hacker and UNCrushed for supporting this important topic.

Maybe simply reading this was the right first step?

So, what’s in your “Health Stack”? 

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A version of this article was originally published on Sales Hacker here