Wellbeing is always the big January buzzword as our thoughts turn to

self-improvement and fresh starts.

It’s a month that inspires motivation, prompting health kicks, diets, smoking cessation and more.

You might think these sound like purely “personal” goals but the positive impact goes much further.

If you’re a business leader and you’re serious about being at the top of your game, it’s important to recognise this. Self-care should be the first thing on your agenda if you want to be a real success and there’s a brilliant analogy that sums up why…

When you’re on an aircraft, you’re always told during the safety briefing to put your own oxygen mask on first. The reason for this is simple – if you’re oxygen starved and incapacitated, you’re in no position to help others.

The same goes for those at the helm of a business. Your energy and wellbeing need to be at optimum levels for supporting and leading others.

We’ve all heard of CEO burnout as a result of profit pressures, stressful workloads, challenging decisions and looming deadlines. And it’s being taken more seriously since the World Health Organisation recognised “burnout” as an occupational phenomenon.

Vistage has an excellent speaker called Celynn Morin – a registered health practitioner (dietician, nutritionist) who is passionate about this topic.

Her workshops aim to inspire leaders to make the choices that will help sustain high performance.

She believes CEOs should consider themselves “Chief Energy Officers”, making energy management a crucial part of their role – looking first at themselves.

I’ve watched her put business leaders through their paces with a self-assessment called the Wellculator. It encourages them to take an honest look at their lifestyles.

It examines whether they hydrate adequately, get enough sleep or do physical exercise. These sound like basics but you’d be surprised how many people with busy lifestyles overlook simple things like drinking enough water.

It also looks at eating – portion control and food types – and asks candidly if they have the ability to recognise their body’s response to stress.

By taking a step back and exploring these things, you’ll find you can put relatively simple measures in place to improve wellbeing and, in turn, your ability to lead more effectively.

The neuroscience is there to back this. Cortisol produced through stress is highly disruptive for cognitive function and can be psychologically damaging. Whereas exercise will help you release endorphins which help relieve pain and stress, and stimulate the release of dopamine and serotonin, which are important in regulating mood.

By adopting a healthier lifestyle you’ll also be serving as a great example to your workforce and will inspire others to follow suit.

Healthy fast-food chain founder John Vincent is a brilliant example of a leader who practises what he preaches. The entrepreneur behind Leon doesn’t just sell cleaner, healthier fast food – he lives a healthy lifestyle with mindfulness at its core. He practises the martial art of wing tsun and has overcome health problems from stress to stomach pain. He learned life lessons such as not letting your ego drive bad decisions. And he’s co-written a book to share his learnings.

I’m not suggesting you need to find

time to become a Kung Fu master. Different things work for different people.

But be open to the idea of making

even subtle lifestyle changes and

you’ll be surprised how much it recharges your batteries and sets you up to deal with workplace challenges.

Laura Gordon is a CEO coach and

group chair with Vistage International,

a global leadership development

network for CEOs