Finding balance, health and happiness in the workplace
It was Aristotle that said, “Eudaimonia (happiness) is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” – so if we are to spend approximately 85,000 hours over our lifetime at work, surely it needs to be a place we find joy and happiness. But – let’s face it, for most of us, work can have its challenges; whether that’s in the form of people and relationships, responsibilities and workload, office cultures and politics, the ever-growing impact of technology; the list is endless!
Our wellbeing – what we see as our health and happiness – is a major factor in how well we can cope with these challenges and manage our balance. Organisations do have a role in supporting and guiding wellness in the workplace to enable the productivity and performance of staff. Well-intentioned programmes are welcomed by many as a break to the norm or indeed seen as a tremendous employee benefit, however, what we are seeing too often is that these programmes are failing to change attitudes and behaviours – and as such are having little impact on the long-term health and happiness of employees.
So, whilst organisations have a part to play, it can’t be a substitute to personal responsibility. Putting aside children and vulnerable adults, no-one should define what health and happiness looks like, feels like, and sounds like other than the individual themselves. We are all unique, and as such, we need to accept that we all have different needs and opinions on what will make us a healthy and happy person – and in turn what makes us happy and productive at work. And so, it is down to each of us as individuals to define our balance.
Our health. Our happiness. And to take the lead in making those changes in our life. So how do you find your balance? Consider the following question: At this moment in time, how content am I with my life as a whole? This is such a big question and one which – for many – is not easily answered. To help with this, we have identified six areas of wellbeing which we believe, when joined together, form a complete picture of our wellbeing:
Physical wellbeing – reflecting on general overall health and the elements that influence your health: how satisfied are you with such as exercise levels, nutritious diet, healthy sleep and of course your lifestyle choices?
Emotional wellbeing – when you consider your emotional and mental health, how satisfied are you with your confidence-levels, how well you manage your emotions and your degree of positivity? Are stress-levels manageable and how confident are you in your ability to cope with life’s ups and downs?
Intellectual wellbeing – when you consider your personal growth, how content are you with the degree to which you engage in creative and stimulating mental activities to expand your knowledge and skills?
Social wellbeing – reflecting on the people your life (i.e. family, friends, professional relationships, the community you live in etc.), how content are you with the level of positive connection and interaction? How content are you with the level of support you receive from others?
Spiritual wellbeing – reflecting on our own personal values and beliefs to help bring meaning and purpose in our life: how empowered and able are you in living your values and beliefs and in turn do you believe you have personal harmony and balance in your life?
Occupational wellbeing – finally, the one that we all strive to achieve – a healthy work-life balance. When you consider the balance of workplace stress and the degree of satisfaction and reward that you get from your occupation (including the financial aspect), how content are you?
Once you have reflected on these questions, you then have the opportunity to make some conscious choices in order to find your balance. “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” Vicktor E. Frankl. In his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Stephen Covey encourages us to consider the things in our lives that we are concerned about, the things that we can influence, and most importantly, the things that we can control. Covey argues the case that we are more successful, effective and resilient if we are to focus on those things that we can control.
To find your balance – consider the final points: From your reflections on the six areas of wellbeing; a. What are your ambitions or goals for each of those elements? b. What are the things that you can personally control – and have the power to change? As such, what are the steps that you can take to strengthen your health and happiness? c. What are the things that you can personally influence – and as such – what are the things that you need to do to influence others to make improvements to your health and happiness?
For the things that you can’t influence or control, self-care is incredibly important from both a physiological and psychological perspective. Eight tips on self-care:
· Do something that makes you smile for at least an hour each day.
· Be mindful of how lifestyle choices influence your mood and energy levels.
· Spend time with people that make you laugh, cry, think and feel. Strive to make every day a school day.
· Find your purpose – and live by the values that make you, you.
· Find one thing a day which you are grateful for.
· Give, give, give – in whatever form makes you happy.
· And finally, be active in your body, mind and soul.
“Life is a sum of all your choices. So, what are you doing today?” Albert Camus.
Our Leading Well programme, delivered in partnership with Manchester Stress Institute, is designed to develop the confidence and capability of leadership teams in supporting and guiding employees in wellbeing issues – but also encouraging leaders to lead by example and explore for themselves what health and happiness looks like for them… making the step changes in finding their balance.
“I have absolutely LOVED this course. I can honestly say I have never been so engaged on a work-related course. I have learnt many simple life changes that will greatly impact my workplace and emotional wellbeing. Thank you! (Lisa Hough, Head of Support Services, Fourteen IP).
“Excellent course. Exceptionally motivating. A must for any Leader/HR Manager” (L Berry, L&D Manager, OneFile Ltd).
Visit our website for more details on how to start Leading Well: www.leading-well.uk.