One of my favourite quotes is from Abraham Lincoln ‘’ Give me six hours to chop down a tree and i will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe’’

Lincoln, who was a skilled woodcutter before becoming one of the most important presidents in US history, probably meant this both literally and figuratively. Inefficient tools waste your energy. It’s better to spend the majority of your time finding and cultivating the best tools for any task.

Unfortunately we live in a society today that says if you’re not cutting trees you’re gonna be fired or if you’re not cutting trees everyone else will get ahead. We as a society have been far too busy cutting trees that we have forgotten to sharpen our axes

The beauty of lockdown is that many of us have a little more time to think, assess, evaluate and reevaluate our current lifestyles.

I propose that Lockdown is the perfect time to sharpen the axes. So, here are my top 7 tips for reducing stress and sharpening the axe

1 – Exercise

We are still running our online kettlebell and bodyweight classes which is a great start. I personally am adding in the ‘grease the groove’ method of training. That is do a little of something all day.

My current goal is to be able to single arm press the 40kg kettlebell. So I will pick up the 32kg put it above my head one or two times every couple of hours. On a typical day I complete 15-20 presses.

The reps are low but the overall volume is high making it very effective for getting stronger

My challenge to you….

Complete 40 push ups
100 squats
100 kettlebell swings or total body extension (jumps)

Batch the push ups into 5 amazing, chest to floor every couple of hours
Batch the squats and kettlebell swings into blocks of 15 every couple of hours.

2 – Meditate

Calming the mind is a beautiful thing. Inner peace, joy and being in a state of gratitude is available to all of us through meditation. Spending time as a human-being rather than a human-doing.

3 – Read, learn and create

Pull that book off the shelf you have always been meaning to get to. Pull out those old Michel Thomas French CDs or find them on Audible. Paint with your kids and find the joy in creation.

Grow and expand your inner workings

4 – Unplug

I love the idea of building resilience both mentally and physically. Building resilience is about doing the hard things to make you tougher. We humans have forgotten that life is a growth-centric experience not a comfort-centric one.

The biggest challenge us humans face is that it is all too easy. I want food and look at the abundance of it in the supermarket. To get food I don’t even have to leave the sofa, I can just pick up the phone and dial or even easier, I can just order on the web and not even have to talk to anyone.

Why stand, when I have a chair to sit on
Why walk when I can drive
Why read a book, when I can listen to a book
Why write when I can type
Why look up and search when I can ask Siri

I am not saying these are bad things, in fact they are amazing BUT because everything is so easy we are all becoming snowflakes. We are all so sensitive because we have never had to do the hard thing and as soon as something hard comes up we break down and cry

My challenge to you is simply to unplug and do nothing for at least an hour. Be bored. No scrolling, posting, looking for likes, netflix, spotify, or any of that instant gratification shit

Just sit in boredom and see what comes up.

5 – Cold showers

There are now quite a few scientific studies on cold showers with benefits that include decreased stress levels, weight loss, increased immune system function and many others. I would again argue that one of the greatest benefits to the cold shower is in doing the hard thing. It’s not easy on a cold wintery morning to have a 2 minute cold shower. Every part of your body wants the comfort of warmth. By turning the shower to cold you are doing the hard thing and that is what makes you more resilient.

The hard things in life simply become easier because you have built the resilience muscle. You are just better at coping better at being strong.

6 – Cook with your family

There is something magical about preparing something from nothing. Doing it with your family and connecting, laughing and joking. This one thing is the thing that all blue zones have in common

7 – Be present and see the opportunity

We all might be here for a while. This is a great opportunity to create new and strong habits. It’s the time to sharpen the sword. Eat good food, get to bed early and connect with your family

If any of these are new concepts to you, give one of them a go and see how it works out for you.