When work gets busy, our workplace wellbeing almost always takes a back seat. Leaders sit at their desks all day or move from meeting to meeting, without taking the time to stop and take a breath.
Unfortunately, we often only stop and take a step back when something bad happens. When we lose our composure and shout at somebody, experience too much stress and anxiety or fall ill after working too many long days in a row.
I feel as if it is human nature to keep pushing until something breaks, but this is where the damage occurs. Why wait until something bad happens, before we look after ourselves?
Look After Number One, to Look After Number Two
My uncle passed away recently, and he used to say “You’ve got to look after Number One, to look after Number Two”. Good advice.
This means that you need to look after yourself before you can effectively look after others. If you’re not in the right headspace or feeling OK, you’re not in the right condition to help anybody else.
Leaders who are stressed and unhappy themselves are more likely to overlook poor behaviour or notice the issues others are experiencing. When we are not feeling good ourselves, our thoughts naturally turn inwards, to try to help ourselves rather than others.
Learn More: Why Good Mental Health is a Leader’s Best Friend.
Balancing Productivity and Workplace Wellbeing
Many leaders are still stuck in the mentality that if they work continuously, they’re being effective and productive.
The fact is, taking breaks and time out actually improves your ability to focus and increases motivation.
It’s fairly common knowledge now that taking breaks improves productivity, rather than damages it.
However, leaders continue to work continuously for long periods, perhaps with the hope that “I’m different, I’m actually productive for longer than everyone else!”
Unfortunately, we are still stuck in the “cult of busy” where we feel like we need to be seen to be busy and working all the time.
Take a listen in your workplace. The question “How are you?” is often answered by “Busy”.
Because people who are running around busy feel more valuable, and they feel as if they are perceived as “go-getters” or high achievers. Instead, they are actually being less effective and potentially heading for an eventual breakdown.
Learn More: Are You Too Busy to Lead Effectively?
Don’t Wait For the Crisis to Happen
Have you ever noticed that we continue to work until there is a crisis, and then everything suddenly stops?
The deadline is approaching and everybody is scrambling and stressed.
But then somebody falls seriously ill, or has to attend a funeral for the death of a loved one. They stop working, because there are other priorities, and the world always continues to turn.
Often the work that was “urgent” and “critical” is now left waiting for the person to return in their own time.
This tells me that the pressure we put on ourselves in workplaces is often fake. We only realise it when something snaps us out of our busy stupor.
Start developing good habits, before you find yourself in trouble.
Essential Daily Habits for Your Workplace Wellbeing
Here are some simple daily habits to help contribute to your wellbeing and resilience. Some of them are so simple, in fact, that it seems strange to even write them down.
But I still observe many leaders failing to look after themselves, potentially heading for burnout and unhappiness. This of course has a knock-on effect on their teams.
1. Get Outside
That’s right. Leave your desk or normal place of work, and go outside.
Find some sunshine. At least try to find ten to fifteen minutes.
A recent study found that up to 77 per cent of indoor workers are deficient in Vitamin D, which is a byproduct of spending time in the sun. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to all sorts of problems, including metabolic and psychiatric disorders and cancer.
“But I can’t afford to take ten minutes out of my day, I’m too busy”.
Sorry, I don’t believe you. Take a reality check and go outside.
2. Do Some Exercise
Whatever your exercise of choice, try to do it every day. This post from SelfGrowth.com gives us 10 good reasons to encourage exercise in the workplace.
Doing exercise doesn’t mean you need to be busting your guts every day. Yoga, walking and cycling are all good and don’t necessarily need to be hugely intensive.
Many people successfully adjust their work routines to incorporate exercise. For example, some people start cycling to work or get off the train one stop sooner to jog or walk the rest of the way.
Another popular trend is to have walking meetings, rather than sitting in an office.
The benefits of exercise are already well known. But here is yet another article explaining the health benefits of regular exercise.
3. Eat Something Substantial
I can’t believe how many times I’ve seen leaders “skip lunch” because they are “too busy”. Honestly, if you can’t incorporate something as simple as eating into your working day, you’re heading for trouble.
Bring food to work that is easy to eat on the go, or simply keep a supply of fruit with you when you don’t have time to prepare something better. Whatever you do, don’t keep going without sustaining your body.
After all, you need your body for everything you do!
Ignore the “Busy” People and Look After Your Workplace Wellbeing
I recently overheard a conversation where a colleague told someone that they’d just taken time out to have a coffee with someone from another part of the business.
The response was a sarcastic “I wish I had time to go and have coffee.”
So my final advice to maintain your workplace wellbeing is to ignore the people with the victim mentality who “can’t take time out”. Ignore the people who tell you they are “so busy”.
Ignore the people who are so “important” and can’t stop because they are in “back to back meetings all day”.
Looking after your workplace wellbeing is a choice, which will make you more effective and productive.
Ignore the fake busyness and importance, and choose your wellbeing instead. Then you can look after your team and be a more effective leader.
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What steps do you take to improve your workplace wellbeing? Let me know your comments below and help other leaders!