Are you bringing your “whole self” to work—body, mind, energy and spirit?
In these high-velocity times, we often operate as if we are “brains on sticks.” We put on our work “costumes,” Monday through Friday, and go to the office where we dive right into our electronics, meetings and any number of other work-driven issues. Eight, 10, even 12 hours go by, often without taking a proper lunch or breaks throughout the day.
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, the increasing prevalence of corporate wellness programs has done little to improve the health and well-being of most employees. This is not for lack of trying or resources; rather, the problem often lies in a “one-size-fits-all” package that works for fewer than 20% of the work force. But here’s some good news: Simple changes—bite-sized hacks to help you be vital and resilient, and show up to work with your whole self—are the key to achieving both vitality and wellness.
After working with more than 45,000 knowledge workers and executives over the past 28 years, we have found that several simple changes work to create a vital, resilient knowledge worker. These rituals or “hacks” do not have to take much time, but they are hugely important in being a fully vital and engaged human being—both at work and at home. These rituals are organized into four pillars:
- Stress and Recovery (including sleep)
- Intelligent Nutrition
- Leveraged Movement
In our coaching practice, we teach people to come up with very simple rituals around these pillars to truly become a whole person. Here are some examples you might consider applying to your own life:
For every stressor, you must have recovery. If you have a difficult meeting or client presentation, you need to recover after the meeting. This could be as simple as taking a walk outside, having a cup of tea or practicing a breathing exercise to calm you down and bring you back to a more present state.
Practice mindfulness. In these times of back-to-back meetings, always-on electronics and the constant flood of e-mails, maintaining a state of mindfulness can be a real challenge. Practicing some short meditations before a meeting can help you remain present during your meetings. If you’d prefer guided meditations, there are many apps that provide great practice for this pillar.
Eat intelligently. We often rush through the day without remembering to eat, or we grab something sugary to keep going. Bring healthy snacks, such as almonds and apples, to work and keep them at your desk. Put snack times in your calendar so that you will remember to eat them when you have a busy day. And don’t forget to hydrate—most people need 64-90 ounces of water per day. Keep a water bottle with you at all times—at your desk (don’t forget to take it with you to meetings) and in your car—and sip often throughout the day.
Leverage your movement. A growing body of research confirms that, when it comes to health benefits, exercising intensely for a short period of time can be as effective (or more so) than exercising at a lower intensity for a longer duration. So, if you’ve got 10 minutes, you have time to exercise. You can either take a brisk walk or use an app to follow a 10-minute workout focused on anything from cardio to flexibility. Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have time—find 10 minutes in your day and get moving.
Keys to Success
Here are two factors critical to your success in creating greater vitality in your life:
- Start with no more than two or three simple changes around the four pillars and keep them very short and actionable to begin with. Commit to these rituals and, over time, you will find that you show up at work with resiliency, vitality and the ability to be fully present in everything you do.
- Schedule your rituals in your calendar and protect them in the same way you protect an important meeting.
And, finally, don’t forget that your clients and team members are watching. Show up with your whole self to be the best employee or leader you can be.