What is wellbeing in the workplace? According to the dictionary, Wellbeing is defined as ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy’. In other words, Wellbeing is a term used to describe Wellness across all areas of health, including both mental and physical wellbeing.
The research into the connection between health and wellbeing and workplace performance has identified employee wellbeing has a critical impact on a workplace’s long-term effectiveness and productivity levels. Put simply, progressive workplaces are doing so because they appreciate and value their most important human resources – their people. Evidence is demonstrating, that workplace investment in Wellbeing is achieving great results.
In today’s hectic world, the workplace can feel like an emotional roller coaster. Long hours, tight deadlines and ever-increasing demands can leave you feeling worried, drained, and overwhelmed. A moderate level of stress can be both healthy and productive but if faced with high stress levels over a sustained period of time, you fatigue more easily and your performance can suffer. Even worse – chronic stress affects your physical and mental health leading to increased risk and intensity of depression, anxiety, headaches and other symptoms.
Every business has a legal and moral responsibility to provide a safe and fair workplace to support individual mental health and lead to reduced absenteeism, increased employee engagement and improved productivity, however employees also have a responsibility to take ownership for their own health and wellbeing. So what actions can be adopted on a personal level to manage and reduce your stress levels, as well as finding a positive work-life balance?
Learning a few simple ‘relaxation techniques’ is paramount to managing stress. When you relax, the flow of blood increases throughout your body giving you more energy. It helps you to have a calmer and clearer mind which aids positive thinking, concentration, memory and decision making. Relaxation slows your heart rate, reduces your blood pressure and relieves tension. It also aids digestion as you absorb essential nutrients more efficiently when relaxed, which helps to fight off disease and infection. Here are a few relaxation techniques which can have a profound effect both in your personal life and in the workplace.
Practice Deep Breathing – When in Doubt, Breathe Out
The very simple act of deep breathing is a pretty miraculous healing exercise. It is involuntary for the most part and occurs naturally without you being aware. However, it is also an action you can control and regulate. Your ability to manipulate the breath makes it a valuable tool that can influence your mind and body and guide you towards a state of greater clarity and relaxation.
The breath is connected to the nervous system and by simply taking deep breaths in and out, you deactivate the ‘fight and flight’ or ‘stress’ response and activate the ‘rest and digest’ response of the nervous system. This immediately slows down your heart rate, brings more oxygen into your bloodstream and releases those ‘feel good’ endorphins throughout your entire body, allowing it to calm and settle, reducing anxiety and bringing you into the present moment.
Set Intentions – What do you Want?
What’s the difference between setting goals and setting intentions?
Setting a goal helps you to see the future, understand what you want, create a plan, and stay on track to get it done.
Setting intentions differ because they are not something you have to do. An intention is intangible, something that is felt. Intentions give you purpose, as well as inspiration and motivation to achieve your purpose. Setting and living your intentions allows you to –
Practice Gratitude – The Attitude of Gratitude
If you could do just one thing to increase your health, happiness and wellbeing, expressing gratitude might just be the answer.
Did you know every time a person expresses or receives gratitude, dopamine releases in the brain? Dopamine is a chemical and plays a role in how you feel pleasure. It’s a big part of your unique human ability to think and plan, so the more you practice gratitude, the more often dopamine releases.
Your brain can’t focus on positive and negative things at the same time. This is a key reason why practicing gratitude can help you shift your focus from being sad about the things you don’t have in your life to being glad for the things you do have.
When you’re going through difficult times it can be hard to remember to be grateful for the good things, but many benefits can be gained from working gratitude into your everyday life.
Self Care – Make Time for You
Self-Care refers to the activities and practices that support your physical, emotional and mental health. Contrary to what some people believe, self-care doesn’t have to be lavish or expensive. It’s often the simplest things that make the biggest difference. Far from indulgent, try to view self-care as a necessity for the pace and pressure that life can place on you.
It can be a difficult lesson for many to learn, but to be truly at your best, both for yourself as well as the people around you, you need to make self-care a priority.
Here are some easy ways to help you care for yourself.
Self-care can be as simple as slowing down and pausing multiple times during the day whether at home or in the workplace. You might do this by simply taking three long, slow deep breaths or by consciously engaging your senses for a few moments. Look out the window and focus on something away from the task at hand. Daydream! Doing this can be surprisingly powerful as it can help you to ‘reset’ during even the busiest of days.
Move Your Body
Exercise can help with anxiety by reducing the activity of the ‘fight or flight’ response in the body. People who experience anxiety can fear or resist the physiological changes associated with anxiety such as a rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. Regular movement can help to develop a tolerance for these sensations and it’s also a great way to boost your mood.
Make Time For Rest
We live in a culture that overvalues busyness and often views rest as unproductive or lazy. However, rest gives you the opportunity to slow down, calm your overactive nervous system and reconnect to the things and people that are most important to you. When you’re well rested you’re better able to access your intuition and creativity. Dedicate time in your lunchbreak to ‘rest and digest’.
Communicate Your Needs
Reach out and tell others what you need or ask for help. It can be tempting to think that people who care about you and work with you should already know what you need, however unless you clearly communicate what it is you’re needing in that moment, you can’t assume people will know.
Prioritise Your Priorities
Good time management is essential to success. And it’s not limited to success in the workplace. Success as a friend, parent, spouse, fitness, anything… requires good time management skills. Success in any endeavour requires giving it the proper amount of time at the right time.
Wellbeing doesn’t have to be out of reach when you have the right tools and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Relaxation is one of the most effective self-help activities for good mental and physical health and wellbeing, as well as being an effective measure to prevent the development of stress and anxiety.
In reality, relaxation can be one of the healthiest things to incorporate into your everyday personal and work life.