In the UK, it is National Work Life Week, ‘an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on wellbeing at work and work-life balance. These are two areas that the groups that we meet at How Do You Do It, working parents and carers, can struggle with. The time and energy for self-care can be low, let alone dealing with the often-associated feelings of selfishness and guilt when spending time on your own wellbeing takes you away from those you have responsibilities for.
Firstly, I wonder perhaps whether our own definition of wellbeing can be limited. When the topic is raised in a group coaching session and I ask what people do to look after themselves, they often think about physical exercise. Wellbeing at work includes our physical health however as the CIPD identifies it is much broader than this, ranging from good lifestyle choices (sleep, food, exercise), financial well-being, personal growth through to positive work relationships, good line management and the quality of your work.
So individually we need to work out for ourselves, thinking more broadly about it, what helps us to ‘judge life positively’ and to feel good’.
Secondly, we need to make sure these activities are given space in our diary, giving ourselves permission to spend time and energy on them. Objectively we understand that it is important. When discussed, we acknowledge that when others are relying on us it is even more relevant to look after ourselves. Who looks after your elderly relative if you are stuck in bed with an illness? We teach our children to look after themselves through getting enough sleep and making healthy food choices, but still struggle to apply the same principles to ourselves.
A Dad in a recent group of mine shared something that really stuck with me. He realised that if he had an important client meeting, he would do everything he could to make sure it happened and he had committed to applying the same principle to the things in his diary that looked after himself.
National Work Life Week prompts us to re-focus on our wellbeing at work. What will you do today to make sure you look after yours? Sharing mine, exercise is important for my wellbeing, and so is being outdoors and spending time with other people. So instead of a work meeting sat in a meeting room with another colleague, we are going for a walk and talk instead.
EMEA Director, How Do You Do It