What I've Learnt About Wellbeing
Two years of managing an organisation through a pandemic had taken its toll, and I knew it. Overtime I had slowly lost my motivation and joy for my work, and my internal chatter had become increasingly negative. The adrenal glands had pumped out so much adrenaline and cortisol on a daily basis, that I had forgotten how it felt to be calm and content. I didn't know the toll my workload had taken until I slowed right down, and took time for myself during a 3 month sabbatical.
During that 12 weeks I intentionally made positive changes. I ate healthily, exercised daily, read countless books, wrote in my journal and pottered around my home. I painted a fence around our house, bought a coffee from Starbucks everyday, and sat in solitude in the sun. I got crystal clear about what changes I needed to make long term, in order to feel well and happy. I then began the journey of implementing those activities and practices in my daily life.
What I came to understand about wellbeing was this;
1. We are responsible for our own well-being. We are the only ones who know what we need to feel happy and healthy. No one person or thing can ever compensate us for ignoring our own needs.
2. For each individual, wellbeing looks very different. A one-size-fits-all approach does not exist. Each of us is such a unique being, and each of us has unique needs. No two people have the exact same values, beliefs, goals or personality, so certain aspects of wellbeing may be more or less important to one person than they are to another. Taking a walk in nature might be my daily wellbeing fix, while creating art in a studio or spending time with your family might be yours.
3. We need a clear personal definition of what wellbeing means for us; What does it look like and feel like for me? How do I feel when I'm well? What gives me joy, happiness and contentment? What gives me energy? We can’t improve our well being unless we know what it is.
4. Those activities that contribute to our wellbeing need to be prioritised and scheduled daily and weekly. Wellbeing is not confined to the weekends and school holidays. Wellbeing is an everyday act of self compassion, commitment and consistency.
5. Sometimes, we need to ask for what we want. As I head back to work, I have three requests for my boss. To be the best leader I can be, I know that I need to take care of myself first. For me to serve others well, I need to give from my own overflow.
The more we can bank our energy and keep our wellbeing cup overflowing, the more able we are to handle those times when we are pushed to our limits, either by a hectic schedule or an unexpected event. It is vital that we bank our energy to survive such events with resiliency.
We provide a variety of activities and events at our workplaces throughout the year to boost morale and wellbeing, such as cupcake morning teas, pamper packs, etc. Those gifts say 'we see you' and 'we value you' and I believe they are important team builders. However, they do not sustain individual people's wellbeing long term.
Wellbeing is neither a quick fix nor a short term pathway. It is a life long, intentional act of self compassion. We owe it to ourselves to be as well and happy as we can be, so that we can then be of service to others.