Happy New Year!
In January there is always a huge pressure from the media to make dramatic changes in our lives; change diets, jobs etc., most of which turn out to be unrealistic and by the end of January we find ourselves disappointed that we haven’t followed through. Those that follow me on social media will know that my mantra has and always will be that small changes make a big difference and this is something that I always think of when I am making my new year’s resolutions. We all have so much going on in our careers and at home that I find small changes are much easier to stick to and simply become part of my lifestyle. Here are my top 5 resolutions to improve your workplace wellbeing this 2018.
1 – Daily To Do Lists
It can feel completely overwhelming returning to your desk after the Christmas break. Work is backed up and often there are so many things to do it can be difficult to know where to start. Taking time to prioritise and organise your day can really help in stressful situations. Daily to-do lists breakdown what can seem like an endless list of things to do into something much more manageable. I always find it so satisfying and productive to tick things off. Try and recognise what is realistic to achieve in a day, rather than adding all your jobs for the month. And most importantly always tackle the toughest task first. Getting these difficult jobs out the way gives you a huge sense of achievement and reduces stress levels hugely.
2 – Increase Your Movement
Exercising more is often the number one resolution for people in the new year, but realistically with a busy workload it’s often hard to fit in a new regime. Instead I suggest making a few changes that see you move more throughout the day and which will result in a big change by the end of the year. Sitting behind a desk all day can cause all sorts of physical problems. General stiffness, as well as shoulder tension and leg cramps are very common for office workers. We are all familiar with RSI, but have you heard of ‘techo-neck’ which is an issue caused by hours sitting with our necks stretched forward, not only at our desks, but on our phones on our daily commute? I have put together a few exercises and stretches that will help if you sit at a desk all day. They are simple and easy and really do make a difference, not just physically but also with relieving stress. They don’t take a long time and some you can even do whilst working.
Why not also try cycling or walking to work, which as well as being beneficial to your health is good for your financial health too! Always take the stairs not the lift at work and when possible don’t send internal emails, instead walk over to your colleague and have a face-to-face chat instead. We all spend too much time staring at screens as it is, so regular breaks are good for mental health too. Studies have proven that we are more likely to exercise if we exercise together, so why not suggest a lunchtime walk with colleagues or see if it’s possible to arrange for a yoga class in the office once a week.
3 – Healthy Eating
With busy work lives it’s so important to make sensible and informed food choices. Low blood sugar can make you feel anxious and irritable and if you eat too much it can make you feel lethargic. But by being informed you can make great choices that can keep your energy levels up and help you stay focused at work. We are lucky that these days there are so many healthy options available in shops and cafes, however, you can always prepare food at home which has the added benefit of saving money.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated! This is massively important to achieving a healthy lifestyle, after all we are 60% water so it’s key that we don’t let our levels decrease. I always carry a bottle of water with me so I can take regular sips throughout the day. I also always avoid sugary drinks as they have no health benefits at all and instead stick to water or herbal tea.
But the key to healthy eating for me is to view it as a lifestyle not a diet. Don’t try and make big changes that are unrealistic. Moderation is key, but don’t beat yourself up if you slip up, we all need a treat every now and again.
4 – Digital Detox
So many of us are lucky enough that we are able to incorporate flexible working into our lives. However, despite the advantages of working from home and being able to access to work emails on our phones, it can be really hard to switch off. A balanced life is a healthy life and the constant ping from our inbox often means we are working far longer hours that we should. Don’t try and do everything at once. When you are working focus purely on work, so you are at your most productive, avoid surfing the internet or browsing social media, although I can understand how tempting it can be. Then to really keep stress at bay you need to make sure that you take time for yourself away from your computer and phone. And don’t feel guilty about it. I like to take my dog out for a long walk and find that I can get my head straight and relax and come back ready for whatever is waiting for me.
5 – Focus On Your Mental Health
As an athlete I have always understood that mental resilience is as important as physical strength and the tips that I learnt when I was a professional athlete I now use in both my working and home lives. If I am in good mental health I am far more productive in my work and also supportive of those around me and therefore I have found that the businesses I work with are rightly keen to make sure that the mental health of their staff is top of their agenda. Therefore I highly recommend talking to your colleagues about any difficulties that you are facing both in the workplace and at home. The age old adage that a problem shared is a problem halved is definitely true in business. Trying to work out all your work issues on your own can often seem overwhelming and delegating and sharing problems can often be the answer. It’s better to do less and do it well than to take on too much and do a bad job at lots of things. Even though as an athlete I mostly competed on my own I always had a team around me and I was able to rely on them to get me through and event, as I couldn’t do everything on my own. And finally, find a friend or colleague who you can talk to if things get too much. Sometimes another perspective is all that is required to resolve and issue. Things are never normally as bad as you think.