For the longest, we have embraced cultures, attitudes and ways of thinking that glorified the grit of hard work, excellence and achievement at the expense of one’s health. The very idea of ‘pulling an all-nighter’ or ‘sleep deprived’ in the pursuit of ‘getting the job done’ became an accepted indicator of success, tenacity, loyalty and the ideal candidate. It seemed demand for production at whatever cost was always greater than the need for healthy people.
Taking the analogy from the 2007 animated ‘Bee Movie’ Barry Benson, a newly graduated Bee full of dreams, got a stark reality check in choosing his career path when he was told: ”the purpose of a bee’s life was to do one job for the rest of their lives and worked to the death.”
Not surprisingly, workload across many industries that spun outside the idea of ‘working to the death’ was not rewarded. This led to widely perceived attitudes of laziness or lack of work ethic creating a cluster of micro-aggression, burnout, increased anxiety rates, insomnia, depression, troubled relationships and even suicide we continue to battle with today.
Perhaps we can do better. Perhaps we can strive to create an environment that ignites the human spark and acknowledge the need to reboot, update and clean-up our mental and physical spaces in order to function without overheating.
In recent months, I have become deeply involved in research and studies concerning employees’ wellbeing as it correlates to company performance, building healthier communities, families, and lifestyles. The undeniable fact is good employee health and wellness is linked to high performing environments. It is connected to better decision making, more robust response systems when faced with a crisis and bouncing back. Whether that’s the workplace or work-from-home space ‘health’ is not the place you want to skim.
Having had my own struggles to overcome, for me, being healthy is deeply tied to nutrition and exercise. But beyond the things we do in the hopes of “sustaining” a lifestyle or culture of health, there is the deeper “creation’’ of the environment or as I call it: “the mental space to get the wheels moving.” This is often the in-between space, the gap, that gets overlooked in the pursuit of change and unfortunately accounts for most failed attempts to create meaningful strides into a culture of health in one’s life or company.
Your health is a priority don’t neglect it.
Fact: How well you show up or step up your game is linked and influenced by your mental state of being.
Funding an independent study, over 20,000 online participants were asked specific questions about their health and wellness routines. The questions largely extracted what worked, what didn’t, and the reasons behind why they might have failed. The statistics from this helped identify four critical areas for laying the groundwork –the mental space in pursuit of activating a healthier culture or lifestyle.
Remember, the goal here is not to live the nonexistent ‘perfect life’ but to gain clarity and focus on developing a stronger relationship with the elements around you.
Step One – Develop an Entry and Exit Strategy
Your entry and exit strategy set the premise for all else that moves around you. How well you flow from one thing into the next, intercept ideas, respond to different situations and connect to your core values all depends on how well you’re preparing yourself at each point. It is the ritual from the moment you rise to the time you unwind and get ready to sleep and reboot.
Without a stable alignment to these two points, much of what happens in-between our lives tend to feel haphazard and out-of-place. This can if left unchecked, quickly become a breathing ground for chaos, fatigue and clouded judgement. Activating a healthy rhythm can significantly boost your resilience, health and productivity.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at identifying the seemingly innocent ‘acts’ we allow to step into the place of our morning and sleep routine and recognise what we need to do to create an entry-exit strategy that ignites us.
The start of your day dramatically influences what happens next or doesn’t.
Taking a mindful minute to look at your entry(morning routine) is vital. When you do: Do you like what you see? Is your first act before getting out of bed scrolling through your mobile news and social headlines?
How much time do you spend doing this? How do you feel when you attempt to get off your bed after indulging in the daily scroll?
Look at all little patterns. They add up! Are you pressing the snooze button to sleep a bit extra because you’re still exhausted from a disrupted exit strategy, (sleep routine)?
By taking a mindful look at the patterns we encourage that distract us and keep us from leading healthier outcomes, we better understand where we are, what we’re cultivating and what we need to do about it.
Recognise what is taking valuable time and moments from your life.
Recognise what is keeping you up at night and what habits you’ve adopted into your morning routine that disconnect from the rest of your day.
A healthy entry and exit strategy involve building a regular pattern of rising and sleeping. Excluding from it, any and all distractions and actively creating a rhythm or mental space to stimulate better habits supporting your ability to reboot, refresh and renew.
Step Two – Declutter and Detox
My husband often says: I’m the Queen of this, but beyond the humour is a fierce awareness of what my environment needs to function and what it does not.
Decluttering your life is more than recycling, organising your living space or opting for a healthier grocery list. These are all excellent areas to recognise but to really declutter and detox your environment means you’re going to do a deep dive into everything around you and within you that contaminates your energy, space and time.
This may even mean: you’ll have to take a good look at the people you’re inviting into your life, the conversations you’re cultivating, the self-doubt you’re harbouring, the forgiveness you need to release and excuses you’re probably making that is keeping you from reaching the next level.
This is ultimately the process for allowing wellness to manifest and grow instead of doubt, fear, greed or uncertainty.
As Morpheus says in the 1999 hit, The Matrix: “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it. You have to let it all go. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind.’’
Step Three -Take Micro-Steps into Change
Nothing you do will matter if what you do is not given the time, space, and correct dose to truly connect with you on a holistic level. Forcing several changes all at once is retroactive and loses its efficacy and purpose in the process. This is also a key reason many become less motivated to reattempt adopting a healthier path since the first became too ambitious too soon without merging into meaningful habits.
For instance, someone may be trying to quit smoking, and an abrupt stop may not necessarily be the most effective route. Instead, speak with a medical professional and find options to best adapt to a system that will allow you to work at a pace to see how you’re making small strides into positive change. One that you can feel good about leading you to take on other steps.
Step Four – Allow Yourself the Space for Error
No good strategy is made without adding a ‘fail-safe switch’ to learn, regroup and redo without completely derailing your efforts. The same is required for health and wellness ambitions or planning. It needs to be robust, detectable and viewed as an opportunity to regroup and comeback.
Lack of incorporating a ‘fail-safe switch’ tends to complicate the thought process and make it harder to stay motivated and keep on track when you’ve hit a speed bump and believe me ‘there are many of them.’ The key here is to look at it all as part of the process and not the end result.
There you have it! Four key areas to incorporate into your approach as you seek healthier options, strive to grow your resilience, productivity and health.