I've been thinking a lot about what wellness means to us and how we each define it.
I spoke with well-being champions in different businesses from Rathbones to Centre Parcs during a recent panel session at the BNC Event Show. We explored how we all approach wellness differently but the end result is the same - more peace, more headspace and a better ability to respond to difficult circumstances.
Wellness is so individual - it means different things to each of us. To me 5 minutes breathing could be the key to calming my nervous system and taking me to a state of blissful relaxation. For someone else that could sound like torture! And for them wellness is in an energetic run.
This got me to thinking, how do we know what wellness means to us?
Through the work I do with businesses, I always start with self-awareness - because when we understand what makes us happy, what our triggers are and how we respond to stress, we can begin to understand what works for us to create peace and calm in our bodies, and then our minds.
Some questions we can start to ask ourselves are:
What makes you happy?
What makes you feel connected to your body?
What brings you peace or joy and you can lose yourself in that activity for hours and not notice the time pass?
Don't think too hard about the answers - grab a pen and paper and spend 2 minutes on each question, writing down the first things that come to mind.
And then this led me to thinking...
If we know what to do in times of stress and what makes us feel good, why don't we do it more?
What stops us from feeling good every day?
Brené Brown talks about this from a different angle in her book The Gifts of Imperfection and it made so much sense as I was reading it.
She talks about how we don’t like to talk about the things that get in the way of doing what we know is best for us - so we end up avoiding and missing out on the things that make us feel good.
In her context, it’s fear, shame and guilt getting in the way of connection, love and belonging.
"We don't want to be uncomfortable. We want a quick and dirty 'how-to' list for happiness."
(The Gifts of Imperfection)
I relate this to well-being - we know how good wellness can feel in whatever form it takes for us. We know we will feel great after that run, or calmer after yoga, or that 5 minute walk during a hectic day at work will help clear our mind and regain our focus.
So why do we skip the run, miss the class and not leave our desk for 10 hours straight? What holds us back?
I believe we have forgotten how to take care of ourselves first.
We feel guilty for putting our needs before work / family / parents / children.
And we feel ashamed sometimes that we get stressed and need that run or breathing or space to get calm.
How can we look at what’s not working and move beyond it, so we can access our well being?
Brené says 'how-to's' are a seductive short cut - they feel good at the time and we get a quick fix but we don't learn to "wade through the discomfort" of re-learning new ways of thinking and being because it feels painful - even though the rewards are greater.
Here are some ideas of how we can approach our blocks around well-being and any guilt or shame we have of doing it more (even though we know it feels GREAT!)
Talk about it to people who are supportive - by creating connections and voicing our fears, we shine a light on stress and anxiety and bring it into the open where it's often less scary and we can hear others may be experiencing it too.
Create an environment that supports it - be that your immediate team or in the wider business. By creating a space where active, daily well-being is championed, we can start to feel less guilty and normalise it. Surely taking a walk at lunch IS the norm?
Focus on the the reward aspect - remember how good it feels to do something that makes you feel calmer and let that feeling spur you to do it again and again!
Remind ourselves we are better people when we feel better. So it’s better for everyone around us - our families and our workplace, The business benefits as we are more focused, energised and motivated to do our role well.
Reassess our priorities. Family is of course important, but can something give by 10 minutes to allow a walk or meditation? Can work wait until tomorrow?
Mindfulness is a proven powerful way to be in the present moment and create a new pathway in the brain. The traditional 8-week mindfulness course is shown to have a lasting effect on participants in changing the way they approach situations as it creates a repeated habit.
The more we feel the benefits, the more we want to do it!
So what wellness can you bring into your life, starting today? Do you know what wellness looks like for you? I'd love to hear from you on this so drop me an email or find me on LinkedIn or Insta and share your thoughts!