Wellness should be an important part of your life no matter what you do. To be clear, when we talk about wellness we are talking about a broad topic that can be summed up as “being in good physical and mental health.” Mental health is connected to physical health, so there is often quite a bit of overlap when talking about general wellness.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the notion of workplace wellness has greatly increased with more companies offering tools to help employees maintain their wellbeing while on the clock. “We are embedding health and well-being at the heart of our business strategy because our people are our greatest asset, and we recognize that a healthy, happy and committed workforce is vital to our business success,” says Alex Gourlay, Head of Walgreens’s Boots Alliance.
But not all businesses are as open to mental health, and despite the greater understanding of wellness and willingness to support employees, there are still many jobs that remain behind the times. What’s more, even if you do have the tools at your disposal, you might find work too overwhelming to take time to focus on what is most important: you!
The more you practice wellness, the more it will compound and allow you to reap long-term benefits, so don’t wait to get started. Follow these tips from business leaders to weave wellness into your workday.
Have a Routine
Time and time again we are reminded of the benefits that come with having a routine. People who lack one suffer from higher stress, experience worse sleep, have poor eating habits, make worse use of their time, and are in overall worse physical health.
“Routines are easy to make and stick to and the benefits are so vast that you would be silly not to have one,” says Stephanie Venn-Watson, CEO of Seraphina Therapeutics. She cautioned against waking up and reaching for your phone first thing. “Resist that instinct. It’s hard, I know. But by starting your day on your phone, you are going to be instantly stressed.”
Instead, Patrick Samy, CEO of Span Health, encourages people to start off with a morning routine. “Leave the phone on the charger while you get right out of bed and down a glass of water. Rehydrate yourself before you go and put on the coffee. Then, make a healthy breakfast while listening to the radio or a podcast. Go for a ten-minute walk after you eat to digest and return feeling like a new person. When you finally get to your desk to start the day, whip out your phone and check your email to get into work mode.”
Not every routine will be the same, so find one that works well for you.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but you are probably guilty of working through a lunch break or two… or ten! “In the remote work era, more and more people are forgetting to step away from the desk and really take a lunch break,” commented Michael Jankie, Founder of The Natural Patch Co.
Working through lunch sounds like a smart idea when you are running behind at work, but doing so can actually have negative effects on your productivity. Jankie added, “When you stay at your desk while eating, you are confusing your brain and wind up avoiding hunger cues so you end up eating more as the day goes on and spending more time away from your desk.”
Be present with your food and you will enjoy the energy it gives you to accomplish more throughout the day.
Walk it Off
Or at least get outdoors at some point. Staying in the office or your house all day is a great way to make you feel cooped up or trapped. Don’t forget there is a whole world out there behind your computer. “There is a reason we got recess at school. You need to spend some time outdoors to recharge and feel the sun on your face or fresh air in your lungs,” says Jake Langley, CEO of Luma Nutrition.
You don’t have to spend an hour or even 30 minutes outside. Even a ten-minute stroll will leave you feeling refreshed. If even ten minutes seems like a tall order, don’t worry, says Ivy Slater, CEO of Slater Success. “With many meetings held virtually, mention to the person you’re meeting with that you’re going to take a walk while you talk and skip the video. Put a pair of headphones on and stroll for the 30-minute call.”
Slater says this will expand your creativity and overall collaborative energy while having a positive effect on your health. “…[E]ncourage your meeting partner to join you and spread the wealth of health.”
Have Something to Look Forward To
“Don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut,” says Jaymee Messler, CEO of The Gaming Society. “… Sleep. Work. Sleep. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Add something to look forward to keep your morale up.”
It’s easier than ever for work-life boundaries to get blurred if you are one of the many people that have transitioned into a remote office, which is why it’s important to have an after-work activity that will bring you some much-needed joy when it is time to shut your laptop at the end of the day. It could be something as simple as playing a video game or watching a special TV show. It will make the time pass faster and can boost your mood and productivity, too.
“You need to be doing something for fun, no matter how career-focused you might be,” added Jae Pak, Founder of Jae Pak MD Medical. “Don’t forget to invest in yourself and do something that you can get excited for every single day. It’s crucial to your mental health.”
Speaking of boundaries, don’t forget that you are paid to work for a company 40 hours a week, not 24/7. “You might think that working more will show your boss that you are a go-getter and you care, but this kind of commitment should never come at the cost of your mental health. Your job is just that; don’t let it become your whole identity,” says Lisa Odenweller, CEO & Founder of Kroma. This kind of commitment to your job can foster resentment over time, Odenweller added. “After a while, you might start to resent your boss and coworkers and even your friends because you are so stressed.”
To curb this tendency to overwork, set clear boundaries between personal life and professional life. Not everyone’s boundaries will look the same, but some things to consider are having set work hours like 9-5 or 7-4 and not checking emails after a certain hour at night or making sure you have a clear no-work zone where you don’t check emails or allow work to spill over to.
Meditate and Breathe
A lot of people still think of meditation as a mystical activity done by monks perched atop a mountain in Nepal. Sure, there is some mediation going on there, but you don’t have to shave your head and commit to a commune to meditate.
Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ says mindful meditation can be as simple as sitting in your chair in a comfortable position in between meetings. “It can be as quick as a one-minute pause to check-in with your body and breathe. Allow yourself to be present at various times throughout the day and watch as the stress falls off your shoulders and you start to feel calmer and in control again.
“Don’t get caught up in the unhealthy narrative that you have to be working non-stop to get ahead in society”, adds Seb Evans, Co-Founder of Banquist. “That kind of work ethic is just not sustainable. You will burn out if you don’t take your foot off the gas. An easy way to do that is to incorporate a quick meditation into the workday.”
If you don’t know how to meditate, there are many apps and tutorials that you can find on your phone and online to help you get started. You will be amazed by how easy it is. If even that seems like too much to take on, set a reminder every few hours to simply check in with your body and note how you are breathing. Take some deep breaths by inhaling through your nose, holding your breath, and exhaling through your mouth. Even doing this for a few seconds will help manage your stress.
“You are probably dehydrated at this very moment,” says Nathalie Walton, Co-founder & CEO of Expectful. “You know that the human body is 60% water and the brain is 70%, so why aren’t you replenishing your body’s life source? Keep a bottle of water on your desk and drink at least half of your weight in ounces. That is literally the best and easiest thing you can do for our overall wellness.”