Are you nourishing yourself enough?

by | Apr 23, 2015 | Blog, Jessica Chivers | 1 comment

Are you nourishing yourself enough both professionally and personally? I ask because it’s been part of several coaching conversations recently. My coaches have discussed it in terms of professional fulfilment as well as nourished minds, bodies and relationships.

According to the OED, the verb ‘nourish’ is many things and key words are: strengthen, maintain, nurse, cherish, support and foster.

Professional nourishment

I’ve had the pleasure of working with many women moving out of corporate life and into something new over the last decade. And there’s something these women do that’s under utilised by those of us in salaried positions: regularly and deliberately connecting with people beyond their immediate field or organisation. I think meeting people, discovering what and how they do what they do and simply opening ourselves up to something new or unexpected can be really nourishing – especially if we’re feeling a little weary about our work or the environment we do it in.
  • Diarise time to read around your subject (in a place you won’t be disturbed)
  • Have lunch with a colleague you admire
  • Take a sabbatical
  • Holding your manager to the fortnightly 1:1s that were promised
  • Work shadowing (especially if you are accomplished and high up the org’ chart)
  • Peer coaching or ‘time to think’ partnering with a trusted colleague
  • Blocking time between meetings
  • 50 minute meetings instead of an hour, with 10 minutes reserved for reflection at the end.
  • Monthly ‘mentoring conversations’ with a different person each time
  • Turning your phone and e-mail off at a designated time each day
  • Smile more – especially in meetings and when answering the phone
  • Look for the best of intentions in your colleagues and customers
  • Hold your next team meeting in an art gallery or green space
  • Use the ‘soft no’ technique to keep relationships in tact and protect yourself from taking on more work
  • Use the phone more than e-mail
Spending 5-10 minutes today reflecting on what professional nourishment means to you may be a useful exercise. It’s an idea you might like to put on a team meeting agenda as the ‘mix-it-up-a-bit’ item.

Nourished minds

How about completing the sentence ‘When my mind is nourished…’ as a way to find out what a nourished mind means to you? I pondered this whilst lying in the bath in the knowledge that the children were occupied by an old school episode of The Simpsons. That in itself was the answer: a nourished mind is a mind that has space to think – a mind that has regular and frequent opportunities to be idle and free from imagining or processing the needs of other human beings. Whilst lying calmly in Avobath-infused water (my favourite Lush bath bomb) these other ways to nourish our heads rose up in mine:

  • Spend more time doing what you’re good at
  • Notice other people’s strengths and positively refer to them
  • Walk more and without a phone in your hand
  • Ask people what they think is the solution when they come to you with a problem
  • Only commit to something in the future that you’d be prepared to do tomorrow
  • Prioritise time with people who make you laugh
  • Put boundaries around time with people who drain you
  • Record on paper every day what’s going well in your life
  • Write a postcard of thanks
  • Have empty weekend spots in your calendar
  • Read or listen to the news rather than watch it or don’t bother at all
  • Bring other people into decision-making/keep them out of it, depending on what feels most nourishing


Nourished bodies

Can going full pelt on a stationary bike for 40 mins at 0630 on a Monday morning be nourishing? I’d say so having done it the last two Mondays and felt fantastic afterwards. I never achieve such a sustained endorphin-inducing workout when I’m out running solo, especially at that time of day. Invariably when I think about what nourishes the body I connect back to the nourishing effect those activities have on the mind too. And regular, heart-thumping exercise is the ticket to feeling top banana in mind and body. We owe it to our future selves to nourish the shell that carts our minds around me thinks.

Other daily, body-nourishing possibilities:


  • Eating avocados, kale, broccoli, apples and pears (I have a green-bias)
  • Eating an abundance of non-green fruit and veg
  • Staying clear of beige food
  • Bristle-brushing our bodies before baths and showers
  • Massaging paraben-free body oils and creams into our limbs
  • Taking the stairs
  • Carrying a rucksack on two-shoulders instead of a heavy handbag on one
  • Yoga stretches
  • Slow, deep inhalations and exhalations
  • Swimming or other forms of water exercise
  • Gentle neck-rolling and head massage
  • Walking as the default form of local travel
  • Standing more than you sit
  • Moving more than you are stationary – meetings on the move can be brilliant for building ideas and flushing out problems


Nourished relationships

It’s a rare and wonderful thing when a person stops and gives their full attention to another person the moment it’s requested. Picture a line manager of an under-resourced team who can smile and stop the e-mail she’s writing and focus fully on a colleague and the father who says ‘yes’ to the child who asks if he’ll play Lego just as he sat down to have a look at the Saturday paper. These displays of interest are really quite beautiful and build bonds as well as esteem.

Other small yet significant ways we might nourish work, personal and family relationships:


  • Painting people in a positive light when we introduce them to others
  • Smiling
  • Taking a burden away
  • Giving greater choice or freedom to make a decision that affects you both
  • Making an unexpected phone call or visit
  • Touching – a pat on the back, a foot massage, a hug
  • Inviting him to spend time with you
  • Asking her opinion
  • Picking up the phone instead of playing e-mail tennis
  • Noticing and knowing what his priorities are
  • Making an effort
  • Giving a gift that reflects a past conversation
  • Empathising and listening with interruption
Where are you well nourished? Malnourished? Or borderline, right now? Which ideas will you pick and when? Do come and comment on the blog, I really do love hearing from you.


What are you taking away?

To nourish is to maintain, strengthen and support. Nourishment can apply to many aspects of lives and here I discussed it in terms of professional fulfilment, minds, bodies and relationships. There are many things we can do to nourish those things and ‘little and often’ is probably a useful mantra.

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