The Secret to Balancing Wellness at Work
When I became a certified Health Coach in 2017, I became a lot less obsessed about what I was putting in my mouth.
- Surprising? Yes.
- Did I care less? No.
- Was I brainwashed? No.
- Was I happier? Absolutely!
- Were my pants tighter? No.
Knowledge Dispels Fear
A Lesson From the Sky
Let me share a quick story to explain this rationale. My brother, now retired, was a professional skydiving instructor. As you can imagine it can be difficult to know that your sibling who is in their right mind is CHOOSING to jump out of a perfectly (well not necessarily perfect, but close enough) functioning airplane thousands of times. Truth is, once I was personally attached to my tandem-master brother and we jumped together, I became a lot less fearful. The CSPA (Canadian Skydive Parachute Association)’s motto celebrates “Knowledge Dispels Fear” on t-shirts, in team huddles and in conversation. They ensure that they have the trained knowledge to be safe and make decisions holistically, without letting fear come into play.
I credit having a new deep level of knowledge about food, to dispelling my fear, or obsession with it. I started looking at my food as part of my entire wellness, and not even the most impactful (for me).
Dimensions of Wellness
With the new year starting, wellness is on everybody’s mind (at least for the first few weeks). As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to be well informed in order to succeed. My training taught me that while what you eat is important, what is equally or more important is how you “feel”. I was taught that there are twelve dimensions of wellness (more on that later). I like to group the dimensions into three categories in relation to wellness for employees:
- Factors are from within a person including: Joy, Spirituality, Creativity, Home Cooking (and their relationship to food being nourishment), Health and Physical Activity
- Factors are from work/coworkers including: Social life, Finances, Career, Education, and
- Factors come from other people and relationships including: Social life (again), Relationships, Home Environment (and Home Cooking listed for themselves)
The way these dimensions work together are very different for each person. Generally we have parts of our wellness that are more or less complete. We should compare the wellness of a dimension to only ourselves and we should check in frequently, as they can change naturally throughout the year and seasons. Certain dimensions are dependent on each other. That’s ok, because in life and wellness, nothing is independent totally.
For example: Exercise too little and your health declines. Exercise too much and your body cannot recover causing a potential injury or physical fatigue and your health declines. It is always relative to you.
Finding Your Wellness Balance
The truth is we want all areas in our life to be perfect. The second truth is, they will NEVER ALL be perfect at the same time. The third truth, is that you are putting more PRESSURE on yourself than anyone else. So let’s try and get comfortable with the relative (not absolute) nature of wellness. It’s how the gluten-free cookie crumbles.
When work is busy and motivating, you may have less time for your social life or cooking at home. Even though I would ideally make my lunch everyday, it is not worth being stressed about. My happiness is more important than wasting some lettuce (which I hate doing) or slightly overspending on my weekly budget. I can acknowledge I did not reach my target, but at the same time I can forgive myself and try next time.
What is important to discover is your personal baseline for each dimension. Again, I ideally would workout 4-5x per week (I would be in heaven with more). I know when I am busy or sick, this number can drop to 1-2. Am I a failure? No. Am I OK with only working out 1-2 a week? No, but I am not going to negatively impact my other dimensions just for sake of it. Each dimension is a moving target and all we should do is TRY. OUR. BEST.
Take a Horse to Water
It would be unfair if I didn’t mention that all of this takes time, trial and many errors, to understand the needs of your team members and to adapt to your evolving company culture. We failed many times before we succeeded.
I don’t force employees to go to the HIIT workout, I get other team members to gently nudge, once they have fallen in love with the program. I don’t shun the people who don’t take advantage, I celebrate the ones who do.
When you take the time and resources to favor wellness you implicitly tell your colleagues that they should too, value their wellness. If nothing else, you can help your team become more in touch with their needs and responsibility to well and happy. What works for all of us is having the option to put our health first, with healthy snacks and workouts, but to be allowed the freedom to break the rules and eat chips (on Fridays).
If you have questions about office wellness for your company, reach out to Kim directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be happy to hang her Marketing hat for a while to talk about how to make your employees heard and happy.