Leaders need to stay fit both physically and mentally in order to perform at their best each day. An important component of leading self with character is paying attention to and taking care of one’s health and well being.

Physical fitness and rest

Leaders need to attend to physical health by including both regular physical fitness and adequate rest in their daily routines. When we are physically tired, we may respond emotionally and react to situations as they happen instead of being proactive and looking and planning ahead. Leaders who include exercise as a regular habit live out a healthy example for their followers, and the pattern of commitment required for this habit extends to other areas of life as well.

Regular breaks

Along with rest and exercise, effective leaders know regular breaks from their daily routine, including vacations, contribute to their overall physical (and mental) health. All these areas of cultivating physical well being reduce stress and anxiety, enhancing mental health as well.
Mental Health

Of equal importance to physical health and well being is mental health. Fostering personal creativity and mental alertness, taking time for reflection, and surrounding ourselves with supportive and encouraging relationships are all helpful in attending to mental health.

Mental alertness and Multi-tasking

Leaders today need to keep pace with our rapidly changing world. At times, the need or pressure to multi-task can be overwhelming. However, our brains are not structured for multi-tasking. We are more effective when we can learn how to switch back and forth between tasks quickly than when we try to do multiple tasks simultaneously.

Learning to switch quickly between tasks requires mental alertness. When we are mentally alert, we are ready to actively listen to others, can identify patterns of events easily, and assimilate new information quickly.

Creative Thinking

Taking time for mental challenges including suduko or crossword puzzles can help us maintain our sharpness and increase our ability to process information in unusual ways. Allowing time to process situations creatively also contributes to mental health.


Personal reflection, meditation, or journaling are all important habits for leaders. Through reflection, we can maintain proper perspective in all areas of life, asking ourselves important questions and considering new solutions. By meditation, we can create a quiet space for mental renewal and calm a sometimes chaotic inner world. Recording thoughts and reflections in a journal provides a written record of growth over time.

Physical and mental renewal is critical for leaders. By attending to our own physical and mental needs, we can prevent problems and create opportunities.

This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.