For those who attended the workshop on ‘Calling BS on the work–life balance’, I promised I would send you a little more information on how to let go of de-energised ways of working in favour of forming small but mighty new habits that can leave you feeling more energised every day.
Since then COVID-19 has firmly impacted the way we are living and working as we shift to home working and social isolation. Now, even more so, it’s essential that we support our wellbeing. What follows is a highly practical guide to forming new healthy habits and creating a ‘work from home’ plan that has the power to keep you happy, healthy and productive.
But first, let me give a bit of ‘over-all’ context to how we are working today.
Identifying the ‘go to’ work modes that are de-energising and unsustainable
If you are anything like me and many of my clients, you probably have two ‘go to’ modes for getting things done:
- Busyness – You keep that to-do list topped up and feel a sense of satisfaction in ploughing through it and ticking things off.
- Stressed – You have a number of big deadlines this week and say to yourself: ‘I’ve just got to push through and get to the weekend.’
But have you ever stopped to think about what the cost is of working in these modes all the time?
When I pose this question to my clients, I am often met with a blank stare and a ‘but if I stop or slow down, I would be waaaayyy less productive!’ or I get, ‘I’ll be fine. I just need a better work–life balance.’
Does this sound familiar?
What if I were to tell you that sustained busyness or stress over long periods creates a major load on our bodies and can often leave us de-energised and fatigued, and that ultimately, it is a pathway to serious illness and disease.
Radically rethinking how we get things done
I believe the answer lies in radically rethinking how we get things done. We need to learn to manage our nervous systems better and ultimately, our energy. Especially as this health pandemic likely has us all in ‘stress’ mode constantly right now!
The first step is to tune into the growing body of science that shows that our bodies can activate the relaxation response as easily as the stress response.
What if firing up the relaxation response more often holds the secret to recharging our energy and sustaining performance through this difficult time? The exciting thing is that you are only a few healthy rituals or small habit changes away…
Forming new habits
Human beings are by nature creatures of habit and often these habits are created subconsciously. So, how do we let go of old habits and consciously create new healthy habits?
A growing body of research shows that repeatedly resisting temptation using willpower takes a toll on us mentally. Some experts say willpower can be finite, so we need to use this resource wisely. If we create new habits consciously, then eventually they will start running on autopilot.
Here are some of our top tips for creating new healthy habits:
- When you commit to installing new habits and deleting old ones, it is essential that you give yourself plenty of positive feedback.
- Feedback maintains the momentum and helps you get back on track when you slip up.
- Don’t set yourself up to fail with unrealistic and massive changes to habits.
- To create sustained behavioural change, regularly taking small incremental steps is more effective than big actions taken sporadically.
- Think about the best time of the day for you to install your new habit. The AM and PM bookends of your days are often a great place to start.
- Get yourself an accountability buddy, such as a friend, coach or mentor, and check in with them regularly.
The following practical exercise will help you identify which habits could pro-actively support your health right now, switch on the ‘relaxation response’ and, improve your daily energy levels.
Design your ‘daily five to thrive’
Ultimately, this is all about you taking responsibility for your wellbeing by making it a part of your daily routine. The ‘daily five to thrive’ are consciously created small habits that support your wellbeing on multiple levels – mentally, physically, socially, spiritually and emotionally which is. I’ve also applied the lens of ‘working from home’ to this list. Take the following 5 steps:
- Review the list of ideas below and select the five healthy habits that could have the greatest impact on your life right now.
- Write them down.
- Share these goals with someone.
- Every few days, focus on implementing one habit at a time, so that you get into a routine with it before adding the next.
- Remember, regularly take small steps.
Healthy habit ideas:
- Supporting your mental health
- Taking a moment to quieten down all the external noise and ‘fear’ swirling around to switch into the relaxation response
- Practice mindfulness or meditation
- Ensure news reports or social media is not running on repeat, actively tune out throughout the day
- Take a brain dump to clear your head by writing things down
- Staying focused on a positive mindset vs getting drawn into the panic
- Make a gratitude list by writing down at least three things you are thankful for
- Use affirmations and embedded commands, like ‘this will pass’ or ‘I will positively grow from this experience’, ‘this is a time to reflect, calm and grow’
- Create your third space where you mindfully transition between your daily activities especially if you are now working and living from home
- Walk out in nature
- Put your bare feet on the earth (earthing)
- Have a shower
- Jump in the ocean at the end of the day
- Staying connected to socially
- Make time for a ‘virtual coffee, lunch, wine’ to create heart connections vs just ‘virtual meetings’ that can become transactional – this applies to 1:1 and teams
- Say ‘I love you.’ Make a call, send a message and reach out
- Say ‘hi’ to a people on your morning walk
- Schedule time in your day to be around others by working from the local coffee shop or library
- Optimising your sleep
- Avoid caffeine after 12:00 noon
- Eat dinner before 7.30 pm
- Drink herbal or green tea
- Dim the lights at least half an hour before bedtime
- Switch off your devices 2 hours before bed-time to reduce the blue light
- Stay hydrated – 8-10 glasses of water a day, this is an opportunity to get up and walk away from your home office desk
- Bonus: take a moment to connect with your ‘stay-at-home’ buddies or give someone in your team a quick call to check in
- Optimise what you eat or drink to boost your immune system and proactively take care of your health
- Eat colourful alive fruit and vegetables
- Drink hot lemon water each morning, add some slices of fresh ginger
- A cup of bone broth in the morning or eating fermented foods daily to support your gut we love Bens Wholefoods
- Mindful eating – chew your food well (20–30 times each bite)
- Makean immune boost juice – carrot, ginger, orange
- Keep moving
- Take the stairs, stretch, get out for a walk
- Identify gyms that have extra hygiene in place or have facilities that enable social distancing
- Take an online class at home – we love yoga with Adriene
- Optimising your sense of purpose and connecting to something higher than yourself
- Read or listen to motivational material: inspirational books, audio books, podcasts or Ted talks
- Draw, paint or colour in
- Create space to re-calibrate your plan for the year – one of our podcasts may help
If you or your team need support navigating the change and challenge right now in terms of setting up positive wellbeing routines or, strategies to maintain cultural engagement with your team, now you are working remotely, then please feel free to book a complimentary 20 min strategy session with Clare via this LINK.
Founder and head coach Clare is on a mission to enable leaders and their teams to find more energy, passion and purpose in their work and life. Trained in wellness coaching, coaching psychology, neuro-lingustic-programming (NLP) & mindfulness Clare has developed a leadership coaching program that creates the space for leaders to reconnect with who they truly are and serve from this place. She is also passionate about working with conscious businesses to create thriving cultures via management team group coaching, keynote talks and facilitating companywide Wellness Programs. Outside of this Clare is a true outdoors lady loving to walk, swim, ski and, you will never find her too far from the yoga room or creating some tasty wholefoods in the kitchen.