How important is "wellness" in the workplace? I'd say it's extremely important! I learned this lesson the hard way when I hit a burnout point in my advancing career, which as a result seriously impacted my health and caused me to take a medical leave of absence from work.
In our current culture of "busy," we tend to opt-out of our own self-care in the name of efficiency and getting more done. However, what we don't see is that the lack of self-care is actually hurting our overall productivity. If we are frequently operating from stressful situations, our bandwidth of focus is narrowed and we are unable to see the big picture view of the situations we are facing.
Stress leads us to feel unhappy and unfulfilled, and ultimately being less productive. I witnessed this stress in myself and my colleagues at the various organizations where I was employed, and still to continue to hear it from my many working friends and colleagues at other companies, so I know this is an issue that is widespread in our society.
And while corporations are starting to acknowledge the increased need to prioritize and invest in employee wellness, it might take some time and effort to make a shift into a new normal. So, what can we, as individuals, do to promote our own personal wellness in the meantime? We can't just wait for someone else to make it happen.
In light of this, here are 6 things you can do on your own to prioritize more wellness at work:
- Check in with your HR department's Wellness/Work-Life divisions and seek out any programs or offerings that they may offer to help enhance your overall life priorities, and take advantage of any services that may provide you with assistance.
Do they have financial resources? Support for social/emotional wellbeing? Health and nutrition resources? Family care services? If there is a gap in the offerings for what you need, voice your opinion and tell them what would be helpful. (It's always better to share constructive feedback because if they're not aware, they're less likely to take any action.)
- Do periodic stress awareness check-ins. Do you know how you react to stress? In those times when life gets hectic, do you feel like the day is moving faster? Do you have any tension in your back, neck, or shoulders? Are you crabby or hungry? Do you experience headaches?
Once you know how your mind and body react to stress, pay attention to these signs and every so often, give yourself a stress check. If you are seeing those signs creeping into your day, it's an indication that you may need to take a quick break.
- Speaking of breaks, while at work, find a way to move your body every hour for at least 5 minutes. Go for a quick walk, do some quick jumps in place, or some light stretching of your arms, legs, back, and shoulders.
You might consider walking to a colleague's office in lieu of calling them. Or perhaps do some work while standing if you've been sitting in your chair too long. And if you fear you might forget to make time for this, set notifications on your phone or watch.
- Take the time to connect with your colleagues in a non-working Allow yourself to mingle the few minutes before or after meetings. Go out to lunch together. Participate in office challenges (NCAA tournaments and fantasy football are some of my favorites), or take a water or coffee break together.
Find something ELSE to talk about other than work every so often (your family, upcoming travel plans, your latest workout plan).
- At the beginning of each day, identify one target item you want to accomplish. At the end of the day, celebrate your progress on that target item, as well as any other great wins for the day.
And whenever you have a chance, practice gratitude with the things that you enjoy about your work, and allow yourself to smile about it!
- Set good boundaries between your work time and non-work time: Do you tend to bring home your office work with you every night, or find your mind spinning about work ideas long after you've left? Make a goal to set a reasonable timeframe to shut off that working brain, and take advantage of the time outside of work to relax and recharge.
It will help with your productivity. Also, make time for a solid lunch break, and don't eat at your desk.
Some of these are very simple tasks, and they are intended to be. It truly doesn't take much to practice more wellness, but it is a commitment. If you're reading these tips and already thinking it is impossible to make time for them, I encourage you to shift your perspective about the possibilities and focus on just trying at least one of these tips to start.
Start small: it's all about giving yourself permission to make just a little more time for you. As you continue to practice more, notice how it impacts you. If it is helpful, keep going. If it's not, feel free to try something else, as there are many other ways to enhance your wellness outside of this list.
And finally, encourage your colleagues to prioritize wellness, as your environment and the stress levels of everyone else around you can impact you as well. The more the people around you are practicing self-care, the easier it will be for you to make this commitment to wellness!
About the Author
Apryl Schlueter is the the Chief Energy Officer of The Cheerful Mind, Inc., a happiness and productivity expert who helps people have more fun while getting stuff done! She is a Certified Professional Coach, speaker, and author of "Finding Success in Balance: My Journey to The Cheerful Mind."