How to Stop Wasting Your Energy

Have you noticed that some tasks create more negative emotional energy than others? Some tasks are positive or neutral yet others you feel negatively about in some way. These will energise you when they’re done and reduce your energy while they’re not done.

When you’re reminded of those undone or incomplete tasks it creates an energy ‘drag’ or drain. You may feel a sense of dread about doing them, frustration that you haven’t got to them yet, or maybe guilt that you haven’t done them.

You know the ones. They’re often the tasks that you put off each day for anything else that pops up. It could be the boring admin task that only you can do, that broken tap at home you never have time to get fixed, or that dreaded phone call you need to make. We all have them.

The problem is, the longer we leave these dreaded tasks, the heavier the energy cost we incur. We ignore them and up rises annoyance, guilt, or frustration… a whole lot of wasted energy. Which, of course, increases stress and reduces our sense of wellbeing.

Action Steps

So how do you reduce these energy drags and drains?

1. Get them out of your head
Chances are, you’ll have more than one of these energy drag tasks annoying you at any one time. Make a list of these (noting that this is NOT your to-do list. It’s the tasks that have negative emotional energy attached to them).

Then prioritise the list so you can see which ones you’ll benefit most from tackling.

2. Be systematic
Dedicate time every day or week to chip away slowly. Whether it’s 10 minutes at the start or end of each day, or the first 5 minutes of your lunch break. Or lash out and dedicate a whole afternoon to completely square something away. Find an approach that will help you to get these tasks done.

3. Celebrate your wins
Enjoy the satisfaction and relief that tackling these tasks brings. Give yourself a pat on the back no matter how small the task. You’ve made another step towards greater wellbeing!

Small steps can often result in big changes. By clearing your energy drags and drains, you’ll reduce wasted emotional energy and enjoy the mental and emotional lightness of having those annoying tasks DONE!

What tasks on your to-do list create a drain or drag on your energy? Which would give you the biggest relief from having it done?

A Low-Cost Way To Refresh Your Body & Mind

Put your hand up if you remember the last time you stopped. Actually stopped. Stopped everything you were doing and took some time to just be. Is it a stretch to remember?

You are not alone.

With so many societal pressures these days, it can be a challenge to take time to stop, relax, recharge and reflect about our own lives. How are we going? How are we feeling? Are we living a life that makes us happy?

A practice that really helps with this, and which is a great way to refresh body and mind, is to take regular time for solitude.

Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It can sometimes be unfairly associated with negative connotations such as loneliness, isolation or seclusion. Yet, solitude can be a powerfully positive thing. It can be a wonderful time of stillness, quiet and refreshment.

It’s an opportunity to be self-focused, just for a while. Not for selfish reasons but for self-care. Solitude is also a time to focus on what you ‘want’ to do – not what you ‘have’ to do. To concern ourselves with our own self, and block out everyone and everything else – just for a while.

Sounds good, huh?

Action Steps

If taking time out for solitude feels incredibly luxurious, that’s a great sign that you need some of it soon! :)

Here’s how to get started…

1. Start small
The smallest dedication of time is all it takes to start. The positive effects of solitude can be borne from the smallest amount of time. Start with 10 minutes and build from there. Most of us can find 10 minutes when we really try. Is it at lunchtime? A quiet pause on the way home? An evening walk perhaps?

2. Enjoy the moment
Drop the guilt. Ignore that nagging voice in the back of your mind, reminding you of your to do list. It can all wait. Just immerse yourself in the precious space you’ve created for yourself. You’ll feel happier and be more productive after you refresh your body and mind.

We can all benefit from making regular time for self care. When could you make some time for solitude this week?

Need More Energy? Try This…

Rest. That one little word that is so simple yet often feels so far out of our grasp.

We often think of rest as doing as little as possible, like lounging around on the couch or watching television. Which is why we may often feel we never just ‘rest’.

It’s time to redefine what we consider rest to be. And in the process, hopefully help you to truly rest and recharge.

Passive vs Active Recovery
There are two types of rest and recovery – passive and active.

Passive recovery is when you’re kicking back doing nothing – having a lie down, watching television, sitting out in the sun. The problem is, when we’re passively resting we’re often not fully engaged in what we’re doing. Our mind is still elsewhere. Maybe glued to our phone. So we’re not truly resting and recharging.

You may be familiar with the term active recovery from the fitness industry. And you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m referring to recovery from a high intensity workout session at the gym. By all means, I encourage maintaining a good exercise routine.

But in this case, we’re taking this term and applying it to our whole body and mind.

Here’s the twist…

This form of active recovery doesn’t need to be physical. But it does require you to be fully present in the moment to the point where you immerse yourself so fully that you lose track of time (seems like a luxury, I know!).

It’s about being in flow, which is also known as being in the zone.  Flow is when you’re completely engrossed in what you’re doing, you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re completely lost in the moment. You complete the experience feeling refreshed and ready to take on the new week ahead.

There are many and varied ways of practicing active recovery: crafting, music, gardening, a game of tennis, tinkering in the shed, bushwalking, playing with your children, grandchildren or pets, a visit to the beach. Whatever takes your fancy!

Action Steps

So this long weekend, I invite you to incorporate some active recovery into your life. To do this, try to ensure the activities you choose have the following traits…

1.    You love it – by doing something you love, you’re more likely to become immersed in the experience.

2.    It fully absorbs your attention so you lose track of time – choose activities that free your mind from the everyday tasks and chores that beckon.

3.    The experience refreshes you both mentally and emotionally – after all, this is the result we are after!

What active recovery activities could you do this weekend?

Source: Flickr - Vic

A Practice That Can Improve Your Mood

Last Thursday was World Gratitude Day, an annual reminder of the importance of giving thanks for what we have.

Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgement of a benefit that one has received or will receive. The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years.

Long-term studies show that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of wellbeing, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain.

So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a passing sentiment.

We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit.

And that can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of wellbeing.

Gratitude balances us and gives us hope. There are many things to be grateful for: fragrant spring blossoms, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, a warm bed, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies.

What’s on your list?

Action Steps

Finding things to be grateful for and expressing your gratitude will train your mind to begin looking for the positives in your life and can instantly improve your mood.

Here are 5 ways you can get started…

1. Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.

2. Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your night time routine.

3. Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.

4. When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.

5. Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Then write about it, say thanks to someone you has helped you out, express your gratitude for your colleagues in a team meeting and enjoy the reactions!

Which will you choose to do today?


Mental Health: An Inspiring Story We Can All Learn From

One of the most positive developments in the area of wellbeing over the past few years is the number of high profile people sharing their experiences with mental health challenges.

Earlier this week, one of the highest ranking people in the Australian Federal Police, Commander Grant Edwards, shared his mental health journey on the television program Australian Story. It’s an inspiring story that we can all learn from.

Here’s a summary of Grant’s journey, as described by the Australian Story website…

Australian Federal Police Commander Grant Edwards was once Australia’s strongest man. He was able to pull massive locomotives, aeroplanes and semi-trailers with his brute strength. But no amount of physical power could protect him from psychological injury.

Grant was at the coalface of the AFP’s most difficult work, heading up a team investigating child exploitation. The thousands of images and videos he was exposed to took their toll. But as one of those charged with protecting society, he’d always been taught to harden up, close those boxes in the mind and move on.

After a highly-charged year training police in Afghanistan, things began to unravel. It took a breakdown for Grant to understand he was injured in ways not seen by the naked eye. After the suicide of an AFP colleague, he decided to go public with his own struggles, becoming a lightning rod for change inside the AFP. Now Commander of the Americas, Grant is on a mission to remove the stigma of mental health not just in policing, but society-wide.

The program delved into post traumatic stress disorder and the need for greater support for our service men and women. It also shared a range of lessons and practical steps that we can all use in our own lives.

Action Steps

Here are some of the points that stood out to me as relevant for most of us…

For looking after yourself…

1. Speaking your truth can be an instant weight off. Sometimes the people around you can see that you are not your normal self, and are waiting for you to be ready to receive help.

2. There is always hope. As Grant said “You can go through this and you can still have your career and get your life back together”.

For looking after others…

3. You never can tell. Even people who are perceived as being strong can still struggle at times. Don’t assume people are okay.

4. It’s not about the situation at hand. Sometimes people come through a hard time and seem to be okay and then fall apart later. Things build up.

5. The manager’s response is all-important. It can make all the difference for a staff member to know that their manager has their back. Commissioner Andrew Colvin’s response to Grant in that initial meeting was the key to where Grant is today.

For a cultural shift in workplaces and society generally…

6. We need to remove the stigmas around mental health and make it okay to say “I might need a break” or “I might need a little bit of help”. We can all do that by being open and supportive to each other.

Watching this program is 30 minutes well spent. Watch the program or download the transcript here.

What could you do this week to use Grant’s story for positive benefit in your own life or workplace?

I Don’t Have Time: 15-Minute Ways to Shape a Life You Love (Review)

Book Review – I Don’t Have Time: 15 Minute Ways To Shape A Life You Love
Emma Grey & Audrey Thomas
Exisle Publishing, 2017, 211 pages

I Don’t Have Time: 15 Minute Ways To Shape A Life You Love is a great book. It’s full of useful ‘experiments’, delivered quickly without fluff and filler. It explores five common “Mindset Gremlins” that underpin our feelings of not having enough time. And on top of these, the authors even stories of their struggles with particular topics and the lessons they learned along the way. They even share lists of their “inventories of failures”. It’s refreshing and relatable; a reminder that we are not alone in our failures, foibles, and challenges.

According to the authors, the ‘My 15 Minutes’ approach is about gently overcoming our natural urge to put things off at the slightest hurdle. It’s about challenging the self-talk that gets in the way of us pushing through obstacles, the “I’ll do it later” promises we make to ourselves without following through (page 16).

Here are just 3 of the 35 ‘experiments’ to choose from – all simple, well worth doing, and doable within 15 minutes…

Experiment 7 – Create your 15 minute playlist – songs you know are going to inspire you into action… In the future, when you hear this music, it will serve as a prompt to remember that great things can be accomplished in 15-minute bundles.

Experiment 23 – Spend 15 minutes ‘picking your battles’. Write a list of all the things that currently frustrate you about the behaviour of others, then circle the ones that matter most. Cross off the behaviours that matter less and decide to let them go. It really is that simple.

Experiment 35 – Spend 15 minutes deciding on 12 mini-adventures (or fun challenges) you are going to commit to over the next year. Start by writing down at least 12 activities you’d like to try, places to visit or experiences you’d like to enjoy. Jot down all the things about which you’ve ever thought “one day I’ll do that” (or go there). Then make a commitment to yourself to start planning for these fun challenges, each and every month. These mini adventures don’t need to be expensive or difficult; they can be free and right on your doorstep …skateboarding, hiking, riding your bike… Whatever it is, have fun and enjoy the gift of living that you’re giving to yourself.

This is a book that you can easily dip in and out of – it doesn’t need to be read in a linear way from the beginning. It’s a practical and relatable guide for building meaning and connection into everyday life.

If you’re wanting more fulfilment in life, more ‘me time’, or simply a respite from overload and overwhelm, then I Don’t Have Time is worth the read.



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How Physical Activity & Exercise Supports Your Mental Health

Physical activity and exercise can play an important role in enhancing wellbeing and preventing or managing poor mental health.

In this interview, psychologist and physical activity researcher Dr Nicola Burton outlines the relationships between physical activity and mental health and shares simple strategies to help you stick to an activity plan.

About Dr Nicola Burton, Psychologist & Senior Research Fellow

Dr Nicola Burton – Psychologist & Senior Research Fellow, University of Queensland

Dr Nicola Burton – Psychologist & Senior Research Fellow, University of Queensland

Nicola is a registered psychologist with endorsements in clinical and health psychology. She has experience as a clinician and university lecturer, and as a researcher she studies physical activity/exercise patterns, influences, interventions, and links with health and wellbeing. She is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society (APS).

After graduating with a Masters in Clinical Psychology from The University of Queensland (UQ), Nicola practiced as a consultant psychologist in the areas of employee assistance and vocational/psychiatric rehabilitation; with a specific focus on stress and anxiety disorders, and self-management/behaviour change programs.

Moving to an academic career, she has developed and delivered courses in areas related to health psychology, public health and health promotion. Nicola completed a PhD in public health and has extensive experience in the management and administration of research projects, including literature reviews, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, population-based survey studies, intervention and randomised controlled trials, and interview and focus groups.

Nicola is interested in the influences on physical activity; physical activity interventions (in particular behavioural counselling) to promote mental and physical health; and the association between physical activity/sedentary behaviour and well-being.

You can connect with Nicola here:

Getting Angry Often? How to Manage Anger in Healthy Ways

Anger experts tell us that anger is an emotion that arises due to a perceived injustice. Everyone gets angry. It’s a part of our human make-up so it’s important to accept anger as a normal emotion and not deny it when we’re feeling it.

However, as we all know, anger is a tricky emotion to handle at work. If you express it, it can easily come out in ways you don’t intend or that you regret later. And it can be hard to keep control of it, especially if you’ve been quietly seething over something for a while.

So what do you do if you’re feeling angry at work? According to the Centre for Non-Violent Communication (, there are four options; only two of which are recommended…

1.    Aggress emotionally or physically against someone/something else
2.    Aggress emotionally or physically against yourself
3.    Connect internally with your own feelings and needs; provide self-commpassion and self-support
4.    Connect authentically to someone else – especially, in an anger situation, explore the underlying needs of all parties, which often makes it much easier to come to a mutually satisfying solution

Obviously the second two of these approaches are the ones that’ll serve your better and get better outcomes.

Action Steps

Here are 7 practical things you can do to manage your anger and release it in healthy ways…

1.    Take 5 really deep breaths
At the first sign of rising anger, allow yourself time for five really deep breaths instead of reacting immediately. This act will bring extra oxygen to the brain to give you greater clarity as well as time to sort out your thoughts. Walk away from the situation for a short while and take time out to calm down if you need to.

2.    Take an Assertive, Not Aggressive Approach
There’s a fine line between the two. The difference is in whether you impose upon the other person’s rights or wellbeing when you stand up for your own. Try to model Nelson Mandela’s style – calm, strong, humble and constructive.

3.    Work through the issue
Don’t just get cranky and have a go at someone but leave the problem unaddressed. Adopt a problem-solving approach. Sit down with the relevant person(s), look for things you agree on first, and then calmly try to find ways through to a workable resolution.

4.    Release it from your body
Physical activity will process the stress hormones that pump through your body when you’re angry while also releasing feel-good hormones such as endorphins so you can feel better. After a good bout of exercise, I guarantee that you will feel calmer. Take a walk around the block. Go to the gym after work. Walk the dog in the evening – anything that’ll get it out of your system.

5.    Release it from your mind
If you’re looking for an outlet to release your thoughts and emotions, try journalling. It’s a great way to feel like you’re talking to someone while keeping your own counsel. Expressing your feelings in this way can be very freeing and can sort things out in your mind. If you’re at work, you could simply use a word document and not save it.

6.    Let it go
Do what you can to address the issue and then mentally unhook from the situation. Especially if it’s something you don’t have control over or the ability to influence the outcome.

7.    Ask for help
Seek support from a trusted colleague, friend or family member. And don’t be afraid to use the Employee Assistance Program if you have one. It’s there for that very purpose.

Which will you do first, next time you’re feeling angry?

Your Morning Routine: 4 Ways to Start Your Work Day Right

What’s the first thing you do when you crawl out of bed each morning? Do you check your emails and scroll down your newsfeed, take a hot shower or go for a quick jog around the block?

Whether you realise it or not, your morning routine can set the tone for the rest of your day, so if you want to stay motivated all day long, it’s important to start out on a positive note. With this in mind, here are four of the best ways to gear up for an inspiring and productive work day.

1. Eat real food

Not everyone enjoys eating first thing in the morning, but the brain needs glucose to stay alert and focused. What you eat also matters, though, because while waffles or muffins might provide you with glucose, they’ll also spike your blood-sugar levels and lead to a mid-morning crash. Better options include things like oatmeal and eggs.

Of course, you don’t have to sit down to a full breakfast to be productive, and if you’re not really a breakfast person, you can get your morning nutrition by grabbing a healthy smoothie or piece of fruit on your way to work, and then enjoying a more substantial meal later on in the day.

2. Fit in some exercise

Even if you only have time for a quick 15 to 20-minute workout before you leave for work, getting yourself moving first thing in the morning can boost your mood and make you more productive throughout the day, not to mention that it’s good for your physical health too.

One study from the University of Bristol found that on days when people exercised, they experienced a significant improvement in mood and were calmer than on days they did not exercise. Performance at work also improved as a result of exercise, as did concentration and problem solving skills.

3. Take a cold shower

While taking a cold shower might not sound like your idea of fun, research shows that cold showers can provide a number of health benefits, including stress reduction, a stronger immune system and improved circulation. One study even suggests cold showers as a potential treatment for depression.

If you can’t bring yourself to jump under a stream of cold water first thing in the morning, start by taking a hot shower and then gradually decreasing the temperature.

4. Tackle your most daunting tasks first

If you have a big project or daunting task to complete at work, it can be tempting to put it off as long as possible by crossing easier or less important tasks off your list first.

However, research shows that your willpower is the strongest when you first wake up in the morning. As the day progresses, your willpower is steadily depleted, so the longer you put off a difficult task; the less likely you are to complete it.

With this in mind, it’s best to tackle whatever it is you’re dreading when you first arrive at work, and the rest of your day will seem easy by comparison.

Sitting at Work: Stand Up For Your Health

Everyone knows that sitting is the new smoking. Research has clearly shown that prolonged sitting is bad for our health and can take years off your life span. That’s a lot of scary information that really doesn’t help you much.

Follow these practical steps to get moving at work without impacting your productivity…

1.  Stand up for Your Health

Stand up desks are becoming the new norm in work places across Australia. You can get expensive and fancy with a special motorised desk or you can make your own. Ikea sells a wooden multi level elevation platform that sits on top of your normal desk. Your computer screen sits on the highest level at eye level, keyboard at arm height and mouse off to one side. It’s the perfect ergonomic set up for good posture and comfort.

Often workplaces have work health and safety rules in which you need to abide by. Talk to your supervisor to see if desk modifications are allowed in your workplace. Often it takes one person to make the change before everyone else wants in on the fun. Workplaces have been known to then catch on and follow the trend with replacing desks with standing stations in an effort to keep employees healthier.

2. Take a Theraband to Work

Add posture and strength training to your workday. If standing desks aren’t an option, take a Theraband to work. There are so many exercises you can do with a resistance band whilst seated in the chair. You might try to do bicep curls whilst reading a lengthy document or side arm raises whilst taking a phone call.

3. Swap your chair for a Fit-ball

Swapping your chair for a Fit-ball might not seem like a big change, however it will provide a lot more muscle activation than sitting on a static chair. Often you will find yourself bouncing around, standing up to readjust and activating your core muscles to keep steady on the ball. All of this extra incidental movement will help you stay active and your metabolism fired up.

4. Take Walking Meetings

If your workplace allows, schedule your meetings with individuals as walking meetings or use your coffee break to take a stroll around the office or neighborhood. Getting outdoors increases creativity and exercise may increase your alertness. These are all attributes we need to think better and be more productive.

Adding movement to your workday may take a little bit of forward thinking, but your health will thank you for it!

A No-Fuss Way to Instantly Improve Your Wellbeing

“Laughter is the best medicine”, the old saying goes, and science is repeatedly showing that it’s true.

Research suggests that one of the qualities that resilient people tend to have, that non-resilient people don’t, is a good sense of humour. The more resilient you are, the less often you’ll experience stress and the quicker you’ll bounce back from setbacks.

When you think about it, this makes sense. Consider someone at work who you think of as being very resilient.  How might he or she respond to an email delivering news of unexpected organisational change?

Laughter and eye-rolling is a common response in the resilient person (‘here we go again!’). Finding a light-hearted view of a situation in this way is less common in someone who is less resilient.

Humour and laughter are great stress outlets. Laughter triggers the release of serotonin in the brain – one of the “feel good” hormones.

Of course, not everyone finds humour in the same things.  There are different cultural perspectives and clear personal differences in what we find funny.  Some people find slapstick humour hilarious; some people prefer sarcasm or wit.

It’s important to think about what you find funny, and then try to bring more of this type of humour to your life.

According to psychologist and humour expert, Paul McGhee, humour can be developed.  Even if you think of yourself as a ‘serious’ kind of person, it’s a good idea to work on developing a good sense of humour.

Action Steps

As with many strategies for building wellbeing and resilience, the important thing is to cultivate your sense of humour when times are calm, so it becomes a habit that you can draw on in times of stress.

This means taking some time both at work and after work to find ways to bring humour, laughter and amusement to your life.

The great thing is that laughter brings all its beneficial effects even if you have to force yourself to do it. It doesn’t have to come naturally.

The act of laughing can be extremely powerful, because just as our bodies take cues from our minds, our minds take cues from our bodies.  When we laugh, our minds can actually be tricked into thinking we see the funny side to something.

Next time you’re in a stressful situation at work, try to see a funny side.  Try a quiet chuckle or even laughing out loud.

Can you use a good dose of laughter every now and then? Of course you can! So what you are waiting for?


Just Checking…


One of the most important parts of managing any project at work is monitoring progress.

I’m sure you’ve had an experience at work when you thought a particular project or task was at a particular stage and being done by somebody else or another department. And then you checked on how things were going…and found nothing was done.

It had got pushed down the queue. Or worse, the request had got lost. The simple act of just checking was what got it back on track. Familiar?

As you’d probably know, goal setting experts consistently say that if you have a goal with specific details that you can measure your progress against, and you monitor your progress regularly, you’ll be more likely to achieve what you set out to do.

Monitoring is key to achieving wellbeing

The same principle applies for achieving high levels of health and wellbeing – you need to monitor your progress to check that you’re achieving what you want.

You’re clearly interested in your wellbeing since you’re reading this. So how’s your physical health? Have you checked lately or are you assuming that you’re doing okay?

Recently I had a series of blood tests done. I got the results back this week and a number of tests have come back considerably outside of normal ranges. And while I’m waiting to see the doctor later this week before I start getting concerned, it has surprised me.

Your feelings are not the whole story

It goes to show that when it comes to physical health, your feelings are one indicator but not the whole story. They’re not an objective measure. There aren’t many objective measures when it comes to wellbeing since most assessments rely on self-ratings, ie how you feel about a certain aspect of your life.

However, with physical health, there are many objective measures – blood tests, body mass, fitness levels and the list goes on. So if you want to achieve good levels of health and wellbeing, it’s important to use those measures to monitor your progress. Don’t expect everything to be okay simply because you’re doing the right things and feel alright.

No alarm, just regular checking

Of course I don’t want to be alarmist or for you to become hyper-vigilant about your health. I simply want to encourage you to monitor your health regularly. Just keep checking periodically. And also ask your loved ones, particularly parents and siblings, if they’re regularly checking on their health too.

With busy work and home schedules, non-urgent tasks like getting health checks can easily slip down the priority list. You’d monitor the progress of tasks or projects at work as a matter of routine. Do try to make sure you look after your own health and wellbeing progress in the same way.

Action Steps

1. When was the last time you had a complete health check?  Do you have any periodic tests that are overdue?  If you’re due for a health check, why not pick up the phone and arrange one this week?

2. What are your biggest challenges in looking after your health and wellbeing?

What can you do today to get started?