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How to recharge over the holidays according to an expert

When it comes to health and wellbeing, you can pretty much look to Business Chicks member, Ruth Limkim. 

As the CEO of The Banyans Health and Wellness, Ruth knows a thing or many (she definitely knows many things) about what it means to lead a life focused on getting the most from ourselves in a healthy way.

With the year coming to a close, we decided to sit down with her to chat about all things unwinding and recharging over the holiday period.

What do you define as having health and holistic wellbeing?

I consider health and wellbeing as something that embodies a whole person – it’s much more than just physical and emotional wellbeing. It’s having a fullness of life where our lives are enriched through caring for ourselves and others. 

Because we are integrated beings, the really great news is that some of the simple positive health interventions we can take resonate throughout many aspects of our life. One positive change can produce many positive consequences. Eating well improves our physical and emotional wellbeing. Engaging in physical activity, such as walking in nature with a friend, improves our physical, emotional and relational wellbeing.

What advice do you have for business owners to actually have a holiday over the break?

I think the first thing we need to do is give ourselves permission to rest. We live in a world that has an unhealthy obsession with work and it can almost feel irresponsible to rest. However, all the research shows that a well-rested leader is a more productive leader. 

Understanding that the most responsible thing we can do is rest is an important mindset to develop so that we don’t undermine our own performance. That takes intentionality.  

It’s hard to do and so easy to fall back into the trap of working longer or being ‘busy’. But I think this idea of wearing ‘being busy’ as a medal of honour has instead become a weight around our neck. We need to learn to put the science of human recovery into practice and engage in activities that restore us. 

I lead a company that provides services 24/7 365 days of the year so it’s tempting to stay always on. It’s important I remind myself that I have capable, well trained professional team members who do their job really well, and we can share the load.

So we’re taking the company shutdown period to rest and relax but when it comes down to it, how on earth should we relax?

As hard as it is, we have to learn to be in the moment of rest. 

Some of the things I find really helpful are being active in recreation. I buy really great, absorbing fiction novels – often suspense novels – and start reading them on my first day of holidays as a way to ‘hack’ my overthinking mind and stop it thinking about work! 

I do yoga, which is fantastic for keeping me very in the moment rather than distracted with work. I’ve bought a stand-up paddle board and am going to start learning how to use that as something that will require a lot of focus – and probably generate a lot of fun and laughter for anyone watching! 

I think the key is to choose things that spark joy and be intentional about putting them into our break. Plus, book in a great massage or two!

Here are some of my top tips:

  • Actually acknowledge the stress you may have been under this year
  • Wellbeing activities such as journaling, yoga, leisurely exercise, hobbies, meeting up with people who excite and energise you
  • Attend to sleep, ensure getting sleep over holiday period 
  • Don’t overdo it on drinking

How do you focus on your health and wellbeing?

Working in healthcare at The Banyans Healthcare Group, I am surrounded by clinicians and practitioners, and we are passionate about helping people find health and healing in an integrated way. 

So I think about it a lot, and the personal challenge it is to apply it. I always say to our team that we need to practice what we preach. Because one of our messages to our community is to be aware of your health and get medical attention when you need it, I was fortunate enough to follow my own advice a few years ago when I felt a lump I had never felt before. 

I went to the GP and had a range of tests and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While that’s never the news you want, because I had caught it so early, the treatment was much less invasive than it may have been if I had neglected getting it checked for a few months. I know I was fortunate and am so grateful to be cancer free so it keeps me intentional about looking after myself.

What tips do you have for recharging for a new year?

It’s important to acknowledge the stress we have all faced in the previous year (or two) and be aware of the physical and emotional tension we carry from that.

It’s also likely that sleep and gut health has been negatively affected. To recharge well, we actually need to reduce our alcohol and processed sugar content to give our bodies and minds the chance to restore and be intentional about creating healthy sleep habits.

While we will have a change of routine over the break, it’s not just about the holiday season. After the disruption of the last few years, it would be a really refreshing opportunity to take some time to reflect and set some goals about the kind of life we want to design. This is helpful to live intentionally and feel refreshed and back in more control of our life. And maybe it goes without saying but catching up with friends and having a good laugh (or even a good cry) can be very refreshing!

What does looking after yourself even look like?

Activities that nurture our wellbeing must become non-negotiable. 

Think of them like business meetings, they need to be part of our schedule. It is as important to think about strategy as it is to be fresh and improve our cognitive wellbeing to allow that strategic thinking to happen.

I encourage everyone to have a great psychologist or therapist that they see twice a year to do a check in and recalibrate. We get our cars serviced once every six months, so we should give the same attention to our soul. It means we can address things when the wheels get a little wobbly rather than waiting until they are about to fall off!

Having a bigger yes, which allows you to say no to things, can be a really helpful framework to say yes to things that promote your wellbeing and performance.

One very simple but powerful practice to look after ourselves is being grateful. Having a list of what you are grateful for, and adding to it each morning or evening, can change your energy and mindset in positive and powerful ways.

How should we prepare for a new year when there’s still so much uncertainty?

We need to continue to be kind to ourselves and others. 

We need to acknowledge that there are things we can and can’t control and release expectations. The last few months my mantra has been – “Just do the next thing”. When life feels overwhelming, all we have to do is just the next thing. This too will pass. We will absolutely prevail in the end, even though we are walking through very hard times. Let’s fuel our souls well with nature, friends, good food, purpose, and music so we can endure with joy and hope, knowing that brighter days are ahead.

Ruth Limkin is CEO of The Banyans Health and Wellness and The Banyans Medical Centre

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