The physical, emotional and financial costs brought on by the ongoing crisis is known to all. Yet, the emphasis on the one common link is not nearly enough. This common link of course, is well-being.
Some of the many consequences of the pandemic include: Burnout, digital fatigue, job insecurity, financial crisis, personal loss, and lack of social connect. While these challenges continue to grow, there is a resolution, one that needs discipline and consistency.
This moment in time is a great opportunity to pause, reflect and make those essential yet basic lifestyle changes that could contribute to building a healthier ecosystem for one and all. With corporates taking a greater interest in facilitating well-being post-pandemic, there are several ways to integrate holistic wellness in the way we work, but it all starts with a mindset.
In his closing keynote on ‘Healthy business starts with healthy you: Driving holistic wellness at work’ at People Matters Total Rewards and Wellness Conclave, Luke Coutinho, Holistic Lifestyle Coach at Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine, emphasised, “Anything to do with wellness starts with a mindset.”
Talking to People Matters’ CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Ester Martinez, about Luke highlighted the key pillars to making wellness a part of everyday life, the role of leaders in embedding wellness into the way we work and the importance of setting a time budget.
Read on for highlights from the session.
What does wellness entail today?
“Wellness today is not just the absence of disease or the focus on the prevention of disease. It's a 360 degree approach on how you thrive within your environment,” explained Luke as he dove into the evolving concept of wellness.
Describing all that wellness encompasses, Luke said that our environment, including the physical infrastructure around us, has an impact on the way we think, feel, and work. “Wellness is a 360 degree approach that revolves around the way we eat, sleep, think, move, socialise. So all this put together and encompassed by the environment that we build, pollution levels, climate change, all these things together define the wellness of an individual to wellness of the organisation, the wellness of the society.”
Fundamentals of wellness
Noting that there are certain fundamentals that will never ever change, like gravity, wealth creation, electricity, Luke emphasised that the fundamentals of wellness too never change.
“We need quality nutrition, sleep and exercise.” Explaining how it all ties back to mindset, Luke highlighted the concept of ‘budgeting time’. “Why do budgets work? Why do p&l and companies work? Because there's a fixed budget, you need to make things work with that budget. It's the same thing with time.” He encouraged everyone to break down a 24hour day, committing 8hours to good sleep and planning the rest of the day around 16hours. He added here that if one plans their day around 24hours, they are taking their sleep for granted and will most likely be in a situation where they have to compromise it.
“Anything to do with wellness starts with a mindset,” said Luke.
“Everything about wellness really starts off with our mindset and our perception of the situation. Before the pandemic, people were still struggling with sleep problems, nutrition, and exercising. It's just a different context now where some of us have to work from home or we have a hybrid model, but the fundamentals never change.”
Motivation has a shelf life, what you need in inspiration
“Look around at all the successful people in successful organisations. What are some of the attributes of these people? The attributes that we see in these fields are only two words: Discipline and Consistency. If you speak to anyone who's made it to the top, it’s because of discipline and consistency."
"Too many people rely on motivation. Motivation has a shelf life. Motivation will get you to 24 to 48 hours. What you need is inspiration. You need to find ways to inspire yourself to do what you need to do for your health.”
To fuel this inspiration to take care of one’s health, Luke suggested assigning values to what is important to us. “When we assign value to something we don't have to be motivated. Mothers will not have to be motivated to look after their child, they do it because the child is valuable to them. So in life, we do a simple exercise of assigning value to what is important. When we assign value to 30 minutes of exercise, seven to eight hours of sleep, five minutes of meditation, eating nutritious meals, we will automatically be inspired to do it without someone having to motivate us every single day.”
Role modeling healthy behaviours at the workplace
Commenting on companies taking on the responsibility to look after the wellness of employees, Luke noted that it's got to be a two way process - Role modeling healthy choices and driving ownership through practice.
“While companies do different things, it's not really solving the problem, except for that particular day. Employees are slogging 5-10 years and a lot of that money - 30 to 40% - eventually goes towards paying medical bills for lifestyle diseases, which are caused by poor lifestyle. We try to teach this with awareness. And this awareness must be combined with education with inspiration.”
What's worked best for his enterprise, shared Luke, is inspiring leaders at the top to lead by example, not just work wise, but even health wise. “When employees see leaders looking after their health because they've assigned value, they start thinking that I just don't need to be smart to reach the top, I also need to focus on my health.”
Beyond role modeling healthy behaviours, Luke also advised leaders to foster a wellness philosophy of practice, beyond occasional programs. “This is what I've seen works best and most of the corporates across the world that we've worked with, rather than just having classes all the time, they think about how do we weave wellness into their lifestyle? Everyone has the tools, we just need to start bringing the tools together.”
Building the base to take on more responsibilities
Time management is clearly a prerequisite for wellness. And what’s also important is mindfulness. Being aware of your drivers, triggers, what pushes your buttons on the corporate battlefield when you are firefighting human conflicts and emotions. You need energy to deal with what the day throws at you, and you derive this energy from sleep, nutrition and mindfulness. Given how complex and stressful the role of an HR leader is, it becomes even more crucial to factor in mindfulness.
“Many people think I'll go out there, I'll be the people's person, and they burn out. Burnout is at the highest level in organisations."
"You burn out only if you have no more fuel to burn within you. The whole point is you're going to nourish yourself first by doing these things and then you go out there and you work however hard you want, how smart you want.”
Luke highlighted that people want to take on more responsibilities but they don't want to build the base. “You can't go out without charge. These little things are fundamental, you have to remind yourself you don't have a choice. Because if you don't do it, there are repercussions like burnout, lifestyle diseases, efficiency drops at work productivity drops at work. 94% of people out there are sick because of a poor lifestyle. And that's within our hands to change.”
Overcoming wellness deterrents
Given how stress is emotionally paralysing people across the globe, Luke emphasised the need to re-evaluate stress and leverage emotional detox.
“Stress is not a person, it's not a thing, and it's not an event. Stress is the way you relate to a person. It is always the way you relate.” To manage stress, Luke noted two essentials: Accept that stress is how we relate to things; Master the art of letting go. “When we master these two, anything that's a stress in your life, you think about if you can accept it or let go, and then take the right action. It's no longer a stress then, because you've changed the way you relate to it.”
Highlighting how crucial emotional detox is to wellness, Luke recommended building two habits:
- Cultivation of the practice of mindfulness: “Unless we're mindful, we don't know what affects us. When we're mindful about our emotions, we become mindful about what we're attached to.”
- Drawing boundaries: If we have boundaries for ourselves, we're going to teach our employees to draw boundaries. Boundaries are representative spaces. It sends a message to people about what is ok and what isn’t. Drawing boundaries helps us protect our spaces and respect one another as well.
In addition to what enhances our emotional well-being, Luke highlighted what isn’t serving the population well - living in the virtual world for too long.
“What can spoil emotional happiness and emotional quotient is living in the virtual world. If you're constantly on social media, you're constantly absorbing content. And that's the number one disruptor for most people's emotional health.”
The global population has undergone years worth of disruption and destruction in the past 18months. As Luke shared, through this disruption, the fundamentals of well-being remain the same. It boils down to mindset, mindfulness, practice, and consistency.
Corporate wellness is a two-way street. From leaders role modeling healthy working behaviours, to employees taking charge of their own wellness, well-being remains essential to efficient work-life integration. And with the right mindset and approach, well-being indeed can be embedded in the flow of work and everyday life.