As we enter the silly season and post new year resolutions period, we thought it would be timely to sit down with Wellness and communication consultant Anne Whatley-Dale to gain her insights into the journey towards work-health-life wellness.
Pandemic is not just another disaster
When Covid-19 hit, I braced myself for the long-term chronic impact. None of us had any idea what was in front of us, or for how long. Having come through the Brisbane floods of 2011, I knew first-hand that the crisis itself is short-lived, but it’s the aftermath and recovery that is drawn out. However, unlike floods or any other natural disaster, Covid-19 affected everyone! Everywhere! So, we’re now seeing normally resilient people feeling challenged by the simplest things. Showing some signs of the long-term impact. On top of this, we’ve also had to rethink how we manage being unwell – whether it’s yourself or an unwell workforce. Gone are the days when ‘soldiering on’ is seen as noble. It’s no longer acceptable – or possible with Covid testing and isolation requirements. Whether you think in terms of emotional health, mental health, psychological safety, health and wellbeing … keeping yourself and your workforce as well as possible boils down to one thing: respecting yourself and the people that work in your team.
So, what’s the answer? How do you put steps in place to be on the right side of the health and wellness radar? When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice. So, what happens when you squeeze a person who is feeling Covid fatigue and the frustration that comes with the uncertainty of life, work and health right now? The response could be a range of emotions and possibly hyper vigilance; reduced resilience; feeling run down and getting sick. Whether for yourself or your team, encouraging each person to be involved and responsible for their own work health-life wellness, is a good start for looking after your most important asset: your people. Here are some tips from our work health-life wellness Getting Started Guide.
Why work-health-life wellness?
I used to talk in terms work-health-life balance, but as ‘balance’ often suggests equal splits of time, the target has evolved to wellness. Either way, work-life wellness, or balance, is more challenging, if you don’t have your health.
Is it achievable?
That’s up to you. It depends how rigidly you define it. It’s a work in progress. Some days it may feel like you’re bathed in its brilliance. Other days you’ll wonder if you’ll experience it again. I like to think it’s about refocusing each morning: yesterday is gone, today is beginning – so what can I do right now to have the best, most enjoyable day I can regardless of what I’m dealing with or doing?
It doesn’t matter whether you work inside or outside your home. This is about communication and task skills, and how we put them into practice.
This is about your approach to looking after the one ‘you’ you get. For life. What you eat and drink; sleep; exercise and activity; learning; socialising; relaxation; stress management; and emotional health.
Is about life management. About living the life you want, accepting the ups and downs. Enjoying the journey. Knowing if you’ve chosen the plan – or it’s chosen you!
Every journey begins with one step. One decision. Often a tipping point that takes you from how you did things to how you want to do them. So, let’s begin…
It’s an odd expression which makes a good point: you’d never dream of eating an elephant in one bite. So why would you expect to be able to suddenly live the calm, charmed life you’ve always dreamed of? Think of your overall target. Then break it into smaller achievable ones … as you achieve one, you can move to the next: The Elephant – my overall target: I want to cut out sugar. The first target: I’ll start with food and drinks with added sugar.
Be very clear on what you intend to achieve. The clearer you are, the easier getting there will be. Target: I’ll cut out food and drinks with added sugar by [date]. Simplicity Keep it simple. Target: I will eat fresh, whole food as much as possible.
Take the first step.
Target: I remove all processed food and drinks from the house.
Be Zen about it
Don’t think, just do!
Target: Yep…just do it. In the bin and out the door. Get help if you need to.
It’s important to celebrate your success – then keep going. But NOT with sugary foods or drinks, chocolate…
Stickability … be easy on yourself
It takes 6 weeks to change a habit – and a moment to undo your good work. Never fear, your daily refocus will keep you on track.
Work, inside or outside the home, is a primary role. Yet it is only one aspect of your life. How you approach it, and separate it from other roles is important:
- Take pressure off yourself by planning
- Control your work before it controls you
- Communicate effectively – even though difficult, truthful conversations may feel uncomfortable
- Take time out without guilt. You’ll be more productive.
Health won’t ‘just happen’. Our bodies and minds need more care and attention than the cars and machines we carefully maintain. When you listen, your body and mind will tell you it needs attention – just like the car that’s running a bit rough. Some strategies for improved health include:
- Take pressure off by being easy on yourself
- Support your body through what you eat and drink
o Eat to suit you. To get your body functioning. Always eat breakfast? Intermittent Fasting? See what works for you.
o Make water your first choice. 7-8 glasses per day
o Eat away from your desk or any other distractions like TV and phones
- Take breaks. Get active. Move to think
- Sleep to recharge, 7-8 hours per night
- Exercise 30 minutes a day. Include passive exercise like walking
Life is for living not existing. Stop waiting for tomorrow. Simplify. Declutter.
- Schedule downtime to be productive
- Know the roles you play in life. Engage. Enjoy them. One by one as much as possible
- Take time out: 1 day/week without even thinking about work
- Each day (or week) do something for you alone. YES you!
- Get social. Enjoy time with family and friends
- Dream your dreams. Set your goals
- Relax and go with the flow. You’ll manage challenges and pressure more easily
Think these guidelines are basic? You’re right! They’re meant to be. Keep it simple and they’re easier to stick to. Small steps. Achieving results. Changing by doing. Something to celebrate.
A final thought to ponder on … Forward thinking and addressing work-health-life wellness is like programmed maintenance for equipment. Set up to address things before a malfunction or breakdown. Something that has been proven time and again is that the benefits far outweigh the investment.
Anne Whatley-Dale is the founder and driving force behind livepresent. She assists businesses large and small to master selling, service and work conversations with a special focus on managing challenging customers, situations or complaints. Anne can be contacted at [email protected] or on 1300 318 692.