Do you produce your best work when you have the flu? I didn’t think so. When your body is worn down, it makes it hard to stay focused and productive.
The same thing goes for your mind. The stress of deadlines and client demands, the weight of starting up a business and the 24/7 commitment we’re told is required for success weighs heavily. And that stress makes it difficult to be at our best when it really counts.
While many people think taking time for fitness and wellness will detract from their work, studies show the opposite. One US survey found that among employers offering and measuring their wellness efforts, more than half saw a drop in absenteeism and increases in growth, productivity and employee satisfaction.
But experts say even when we think we’re doing a good job at promoting wellness for ourselves and within our businesses, there is a lot of room for improvement. As many as one in five Australians have taken time off work in the past 12 months because they have felt stressed, depressed or mentally unhealthy, a new report shows. Beyondblue’s report, State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia, found 71 per cent of leaders believed they were committed to promoting the mental health of staff while only 37 per cent of staff agreed.
Improving your personal wellness doesn’t require a life overhaul. In fact, it doesn’t have to take much time out of your day at all.
Here are five easy steps to help you improve your wellbeing:
- Take stock – You wouldn’t launch a new product or open a new store without doing a bit of market research first. So, do the same for yourself. Write down how often you are getting exercise, your meals over the last week and your three biggest stresses. Think about what you feel is preventing you from reaching a greater level of wellness. Knowing where you stand is an important step in setting realistic and tangible goals
- Eye on the target – When you don’t have a clear vision, or understand what is required to achieve your goal, you put stumbling blocks in your path. Review your assessment list and then identify opportunities to make improvements. Can you switch out the fast food meals for healthier options next week? When can you set aside some time for exercise? It might help to review your situation and goals with a personal wellness coach and then attack it like you would a business plan – identifying the key actions that will move you closer to your goal.
- Accountability is key – Would you ever bail on a client meeting because you didn’t feel like it? (Hopefully, the answer is no!) Treat your training sessions like you would an important work meeting. You have to show up! Block out time in your diary and treat it as a non-negotiable (that also applies for ‘Snooze Button Temptation’). When you make a habit of taking your wellness more seriously, it becomes part of your life.
- Not so smart – Workers who are dedicated to their career often feel like they’re ‘always on’. And the proliferation of smart devices certainly doesn’t make that any easy. It’s harder than ever to disconnect, especially when your boss always knows where to find you! Set some limits for your devices. At the very least, avoid using them within an hour of going to bed.
- Breath of fresh air: We all have crazy weeks (or months!) which can make it difficult to stick with a consistent exercise schedule. But you should always take a bit of time to get outside and stretch your legs. Do not underestimate the power of getting some fresh air every time. Escape from the office, even if it’s only for 15 minutes for a walk around the block or just sit on a park bench and let you mind switch off. Consider starting up a ‘walking meeting’ with your team or just try to eat somewhere besides your deck. It will help you feel better and perhaps, inspire your creativity so you can come back and tackle whatever is next.
About the author
Michael Yarnold is the founder and owner of Actual Fitness. He has worked as personal trainer for over 10 years and is a qualified Wellness Coach.