The importance of being well at work, and prioritising personal wellness has never been clearer. When many of us suddenly find ourselves in remote work from home situations in which we are attempting to juggle working as usual despite technology barriers, family distractions and keeping up with news about the global pandemic - who has time to focus on wellness or to find a positive mindset?
Even if these seem like the last things on our collective minds, research shows that wellness and cultivating a positive mindset should always be a priority, even more so during challenging times, whether global or personal.
This report found that respondents in Malaysia became increasingly stressed, and their anxiety levels soared over a four-month period. For instance, 11.5% reported increased stress levels in May and this number went up to 30.6% in September last year. 32.3% of the participants felt anxious at the beginning of the study and the percentage rose to 55.1% at the end of the study, making this connection between work, wellness and a positive mindset more relevant than ever.
These are some actions you can take right away to change your outlook on what’s going on. And when life goes back to normal, keep performing these actions as a part of your daily routine for an improvement in your overall well-being.
Take things one step at a time
It is decidedly not easy to develop new habits, but the good news is that focusing on wellness doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul of everything you are doing. It starts small, and it can simply be something like stopping to text a colleague and check how they’re doing or taking a 30 minute walk outside to your day. Even a 10 minute break from technology to read or listen to music can feel like a recharge. Here are a few things to add to your wellness in relation to work.
Reach out to your colleagues.
Loneliness is a real issue for many these days. In many cases, this feeling of isolation can be alleviated by simply reaching out to other people who are in the same situation - your colleagues. Reach out to them about more than just the project at hand. Celebrate wins together, share weekend plans and send out messages just to check on each other. Now, more than ever, this connection is essential to overall well-being in the office.
Draw a line between work and home.
When working from home, it can be even more difficult to draw the line between work and leisure time. When it feels comfortable to wear yoga pants when you work from home, don't. Get into your usual workwear. And when it is time to knock off from work, change into your home or leisure clothing. Create a schedule, and specify your lunch and break times, so your day doesn't get messy and you end up eating lunch at 4 pm. And when it is time to "go home", shut down your computer and move away from the work area.
Make a schedule and stick to it. For work tasks, block out time for big projects, and set a distinct starting time. Also, organise your day to allow for maximum productivity. If you know you get more done in the morning, set out two hours without interruptions first thing, or maybe put in a few concentrated hours in late afternoon.
Set aside time to move.
In whatever way you can, in whatever way feels good, set aside time to move every day. Thirty minutes of exercise a day can make a huge difference to your health, mindset and well-being. If you can, go outside for a walk, jog or run. If you can’t, do a quick at home workout. Stop every couple of hours and do a few pushups, crank up the music and have a 20 minute dance party in your living room. As you can see, movement doesn’t have to be structured or super intense, just move.
Turn off the news.
Be informed, but remember that a constant 24-hour cycle of information isn’t good for mental well-being. Filter the news in the way that helps you get the necessary information and cut out everything else.
A positive mindset for the times
A positive mindset is interconnected with wellness, and keeping a positive mindset throughout trying times is key. To begin, what is a positive mindset? It’s not ignoring everything that’s going on and saying that everything is fine. It’s about accepting the things that are going wrong and shifting your focus on the things that are going right. Here are a few things that can help with developing a positive mindset:
Make daily gratitude lists
In the morning or evening, sit down and list 3 things you are grateful for. If everything is going wrong, it can be hard to find that gratitude, but the more you look for it, the more you will find to be grateful for.
Look for the positive sides
Closely aligned with gratitude, look for the positive sides of any situation. For example, if you are working from home, maybe it gives you more time with your immediate family. Put your energy into enjoying time with them, rather than focussing on the fact that you can’t go out.
Adapt a growth mindset
In short, a growth mindset is the idea that you always have room for growing and learning - where you are now isn’t where you will always be. This is about constantly developing skills and finding a way forward into new paths that you couldn’t have predicted.
How companies can help
Monetary benefits like salary, bonuses and paid leave are always the first priority when evaluating a new job, or negotiating for a higher salary, but challenging situations help bring to light the importance of other non-monetary benefits. One very overlooked benefit is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offered by companies.
Employee Assistance Programs take many different forms depending on the organisation, but they all offer psychological and emotional support to employees on personal issues through professional counselling. If your company hasn’t already made clear what EAP they have, reach out to your HR department for the professional resources available to you.
Happy work, happy life
Workplace wellness isn’t a new thing - experts have been saying we need to prioritise it for decades, especially as workplace burnout increases. The bright side is that small steps can make a big difference in your overall happiness. And when we’re all back in the office, keep these habits you have cultivated now for long term health and well-being.