Is Your Wellbeing A Priority?

If you don’t make your wellbeing a priority, who will?  I’m delivering workforce wellbeing and performance training at the moment and so regularly ask people whether they had a lunch break yesterday.  Or last week, or last month, or any time in the last blimmin decade possibly!!  More often than not, the answer is ‘no’ and often I meet people who state very calmly, ‘I never have a lunch break’.  ☹  There is no prize you know, for never having a lunch break, for never getting up and moving away from your desk or work space, or for squinting at your screen and failing to acknowledge that your eye sight might be failing.  The Queen will not honour you for dedication beyond the call of duty because you don’t make your wellbeing a priority.  In fact very few people will thank you, or even notice that you’re doing it, because it becomes the norm very quickly.  Which is a situation that I’d very much like to change!

Are You Well?

Instead of people saying very factually “I never have a lunch break” I would like people to say “I usually have a lunch break of course.  I might miss the odd day but that’s not the norm”.  At that point I will be very happy and I will stop nagging at people! 😊  Having said that though, our wellbeing is very much our own journey and so my nagging will usually only be on a general level.  It’s not for me to make judgements about your wellbeing, that’s very much a personal thing for you to think about but I do ask that you think about it please.  Are you keeping yourself well and is your wellbeing a priority?

Here’s A Medal!

If someone said to you that they hadn’t taken a lunch break in the last ten years for instance, what would you think of them?  Would you think ‘my goodness, they’re a real trooper!’ or would you think ‘my goodness, that seems a bit extreme!’?  Some of the behaviours of the last century, the 1980s and 1990s still linger with us.  Working long hours without a break used to be a badge of honour and if you didn’t work lots of additional hours for free you probably wouldn’t get promoted.  It’s not a great legacy. Those days are gone now, thank goodness but some of the behaviours still remain unfortunately.  The thing that I find frustrating is that I haven’t come across anyone in the last 12 months, that when I ask the lunch break question, has said “of course I do Karen, I have a break every day, why on earth wouldn’t I?!”.  Not.  One.  Single.  Person.  ☹ 

I Will If You Will

If you’re not prioritising your own wellbeing, whose wellbeing are you focusing on?  As a parent you will be focused on the wellbeing of your children of course, the problem with that being that children are fabulous at reflecting your behaviours back to you.  So if you talk to them about not being welded to their phone for instance but they see you do that all the time, answering work emails after the work day has finished, they will hold you to account.  And then you’ll be stuck!  If you work in a line management position and tell your teams to have a lunch break and to get up and move away from their desks regularly, they won’t do that unless they see you do it too.  Well, they won’t do it for long.  People will reflect your behaviours back to you and will hold you to account if you don’t.  It’s such a bummer! 😉

Your Wellbeing, Your Way

Wellbeing is a very personal thing.  It is about health and fitness to some extent but there is a wider holistic sense too, in terms of day to day behaviours.  My focus of ‘is it (work) running me or am I running it?’ helps me to think about my work behaviours, whether I’m being kind to myself and making my own wellbeing a priority.  Because one thing’s for sure, if I don’t do that, then no one else will do it for me.  As a self-employed person or a business owner it can be harder to have the discipline for breaks as we’re so invested in what we’re doing but personally I’m in this for the long haul and if I don’t keep myself well, then I’m not going to be able to nag anyone about their wellbeing and where would the world be then?! 😉  Hold yourself to account and think about what wellbeing means for you.  What does making your wellbeing a priority look like in terms of day to day behaviours?  If you try every day and achieve on some, that’s a great start and that might be miles better than what you’re doing now!

Small Behavioural Changes Lead To Big Outcomes 😊

Sometimes we don’t make behavioural changes because they’re difficult to maintain.  I’m not saying that we all have to enjoy salad for lunch and meditate at our desks every two hours, although if that works for you, crack on!  You know what your wellbeing offences are and if you can define three things that you’d like to work on, try to do those things every day and achieve on some, you’ll start to make behavioural changes that will in time will become normal.  So that missing your lunch break will become an unusual thing, not the everyday statement that I seem to get from people now.  You can change one lunch break a week into one missed lunch break a week quite quickly!  As your wellbeing behaviours change, so will the behaviours of the people around you, particularly if you lead people in some way, either as a parent or a Line Manager for instance.  If you lead by example people are much more likely to engage and buy into those same behaviours.  They will also then call out less than fabulous behaviours with kindness and compassion.  “We did agree that we’d have at least three lunch breaks every week.  This is the third day that you’ve stayed at your desk so you’ll be taking a break now I assume?”.  The power of a ‘nudge’ can be wonderful 😊

What Will You Change?

So on the basis that there is no prize for working through your breaks, you might as well take some hadn’t you?  To make yourself feel better, to give your body and mind a break, to allow your muscles to ease and stretch, to see daylight possibly, not just through a window!  Ah yes, I know what those wellbeing offences are, I’ve committed most of them at some point.  Being more conscious about your wellbeing supports a positive cycle of thinking as it puts you in charge, of you.  It makes you realise that you have choices and that a good work/life balance and a great sense of wellbeing will not be achieved by feeling completely knackered all of the time!  Most places will pay you anyway you know, when you take the breaks you’re entitled to!  And once they see that your wellbeing improves as a result of it, hopefully they’ll start to reflect your behaviours back to you.  Win-win!  Senior Managers can be the worst offenders so let’s all manage up beautifully and show them how it’s done! 😊

Take good care please, demonstrate your wellbeing behaviours with pride and have a great day!

Best wishes, Karen