Healthy Living

6 Things Obama Can Teach Us About Self-Care In Stressful Times

Here's how POTUS keeps his cool.

You are not the president of the United States. But chances are you too have real stressors in your life that make it feel as though the weight of the world is on your shoulders.

There’s a way to break free. Upon examining the daily routine of President Obama, it becomes clear that the commander-in-chief lives a life carefully constructed to avoid burnout, promote wellbeing and remain as stress-free as possible. Below are a few moves from his presidential playbook you can borrow in order to do the same:

1. Learn how you recharge best (even if it’s alone).

Extroverts gain energy from being around other people, but introverts need solo time to reboot. While President Clinton reportedly spent his free time chatting on the phone, President Obama spends four to five quiet hours alone in his office every day. “For some of our presidential leaders, the energy they need comes from contact with other people,” historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told the New York Times. “[Obama] seems to be somebody who is at home with himself.” Likewise, learn how your personality recharges best, and practice it.

2. Take breaks to play.

During his early White House days, Obama had a standing date every night ― not to sift through paperwork or make business calls, but to play pool with a friend. Indeed, taking a break can make you more productive, even if it’s just 10 minutes away from your desk during the day.

3. Block off time for the people you love.

Obama eats dinner with his daughters every day, and his family goes on vacation together each year. It turns out he’s onto something: Regular hangouts with best friends or family members have been shown to reduce anxiety, boost happiness and even extend your lifespan.

4. Keep things in perspective.

When it comes to handling extreme stress, Obama has one major key. “I think the most important thing is to take the long view,” he told HuffPost in a 2015 interview. To him, that means keeping in mind that what seems like a failure today won’t seem so important tomorrow, next month or in a year.

5. Eliminate unnecessary decisions.

Some of the world’s most successful people free up mental space by turning small, everyday decisions into routines. Take Obama’s wardrobe, for example. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he told Vanity Fair in 2012. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

How can you adopt this practice at home? To feel a greater sense of control, make your morning or your workout schedule routines you can emulate every day.

6. Exercise often.

Obama credits regular workouts with keeping stress levels under control throughout his presidency. “I’ve been very consistent about exercising in the morning,” Obama told HuffPost. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease, improve your mood and even ease anxiety and depression. Now THAT is a habit worth holding on to.

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