Image By Samuel Zeller Unsplash.com
Not only am I passionate about the mental health and well-being programmes that enable children young people and their families to get the right help at the right time, but also the well-being of employees is paramount to me. Healthy thriving cultures foster healthy thriving teams. Thriving staff are needed for the successful implementation of the business plans. Those that help us expand and deliver our desire for social impact and change.
I was reminded of this at work one week. I shared a personal goal with a colleague. I was planning a trip and wanted to include not only rest and time spent relaxing on the beach but exploring the new spaces I have on my itinerary. I was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder a few years ago. Even though prior to this I was incredibly fit, within a few years my capacity to manage the same exercise programme diminished. The impact of this condition affected me more than I cared to admit for a while.
Over time, the things I could do, that I had taken for granted had to be revaluated or changed. I then took up yoga, meditation and mindfulness. This change of not only fitness programme but attitude adjustment recouped some of my energy and fitness, but I still had to continue with thinking one week at a time. I had to plan short manageable activities and goals that neither over-strained my challenged system nor kept me in homeostasis.
Step by step I saw an improvement in both my confidence and lifestyle. My aim therefore was to get even fitter, stronger, and have more endurance for an upcoming trip that helped me enjoy the fresh discovery’s. I was now swimming, doing yoga and cycling, but wanted a new daily challenge that would work towards this bigger goal.
My colleague said they’d also love to do the same challenge. We agreed to do a simple set of exercises (the plank, squats and lunges) that work the main muscle groups and build a good core .This would help improve both endurance, fitness and stamina.
Within 3 hours other colleagues were on board. We opened a WhatsApp group and started to have daily “chats” about how we were getting on.
No one was excluded for not being fit or flexible enough to cover the same daily activities.
I’m passionate about making things accessible.
For some to move from being inactive, sitting at a desk all day and having little experience of goal setting can feel a challenge. It can end up with them stopping quite soon after they have started. Also, the emphasis was not on the activities themselves but rather the point of doing them for a minimum of 30 days.
Behaviour change psychology challenges the idea of waiting to be motivated or relying on will power to make changes to your life. Instead it looks at how we can incorporate what can seem a simple approach that helps change become long lasting and as habitual as brushing your teeth daily.
Basically you just decide what’s feasible right now and go from there . It varies in terms of how long someone needs to turn a new task into a habit, but the average is 30 to 60 days. Therefore, many of my new challenges involve a set amount of time.
last year I had decided to see if I could do yoga every day. I had trialled a course on DailyOm (which by the way I really enjoyed) and had managed to do the whole course .
The value of doing something as a group means we all share our goal, can share whats working, help each other if our enthusiasm drops, and are all accountable.
It also improves the nice stuff like attention, rewards, interest and connection.
Humans thrive when their needs are met and Connection is seen as one of the ways to increase mental well-being.
I wanted to emphasise that the challenge was about just doing three simple things a day that can help shift mindset, prevent the brain from putting the brakes on and make it feel more fun.
Nothing feels better than when we can set our self a goal and achieve it -And nothing is worse than setting a goal so way off the risks to attaining it are greater.
So, I also suggest alternative versions of the challenge for people with particular struggles. Also a promise we weren’t going to judge but rather work together to do our best.
There were no other outcomes decided, no focus on weight loss or healthy eating, just a simple approach to including something else into your daily life.
The only other thing I did was share a video at the team meeting on time and in particular our concept of it. Many of the excuses for not starting a new activity , no matter how desired is we believe we don’t have enough time.
Tom Evans book on Time explores how when we are more mindful and introduce some mindful practices. This process helps us feel like time has expanded whilst becoming more productive , win-win.
All I asked of them was to create their own baselines to measure their own performance (how long they can hold the plank ) as all of us have completely different levels of fitness and ideas about what we find fun.
Within the first few days the WhatsApp group was buzzing, comradery grew, with a shared interest in how we were all getting on.
They all started to support and encourage each other and in turn we found out more about what else people did that they enjoyed. The process of being a part of this was amazing and reminded me that sometimes there are some very simple things we can do to raise people’s spirits, make someone’s day and help lead to some lasting changes of personal behaviour but also changes in the workplace.
Thriving staff bring ideas, openness, curiosity, spirit, support and a whole host of other things. I was more than pleasantly surprised how quickly the idea propelled and was picked up enthusiastically.
Having access to technology, our flexible approaches to work enabled this to kick off and become sustainable.
Thriving staff not only create the energy needed to design, develop and drive sustainable social change but also make just working together a much more pleasant and enjoyable experience.