With the quieter summer months providing the perfect chance to recharge, everywoman’s Kate Farrow offers tips on evaluating and improving your wellbeing
Wellbeing has made its way into the top 10 biggest challenges for HR professionals in 2018. The typically quieter summer months are a great opportunity to take the time to evaluate your wellbeing and whether you are on track.
Wellbeing covers your mental, emotional and physical health, and having a regular check-in with yourself on these can help keep you on the right track, with the typically quieter summer months a perfect opportunity to do so.
In 2008 the UK Government published the Foresight Project on Mental Capital & Wellbeing. Its purpose was to find out what challenges we would face over the next 20 years and what needed to be done to ensure we have the mental wellbeing to confront those challenges. Following the publication of the report, the government asked think tank New Economics Foundation to develop the “Five Ways to Wellbeing”, as outlined here.
Do we connect with the people around us or do we isolate ourselves? I’m not suggesting you need to turn yourself into a gregarious party-goer seeking out 18-30 holidays, but do you nurture the relationships that you have now? Our relationships help us to feel happier and more secure, and provide a safe space to lean into when life throws us curveballs. Think how you feel once you’re able to sit down with a friend and chew over something that is bothering you – the people in our lives give us valuable perspectives and a greater sense of purpose.
2. Be active
Most of us know that we need to be more active. Thankfully that doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym five days a week; the trick is being consistent – and you’ll only ever be consistent when you do something you enjoy. Much evidence points towards a direct link between regular exercise and high levels of self-esteem and confidence, as well as better sleep, concentration and focus.
3. Take notice
This covers a range of areas: taking notice of the world around you, slowing down, stopping your brain from overthinking by taking in the present moment, and taking notice of how you are feeling and your internal dialogue, how you talk to yourself. If we go through our day feeling out of sorts for no apparent reason but ignore it, several days and weeks of this can lead us to stockpile negative emotions, which need to be released. It’s like a knot – one knot at a time is easier to unpick than a whole bundle intertwined with each other. If exploring your feelings doesn’t come naturally to you, I suggest looking up some resources on both emotional intelligence and mindfulness.
4. Keep learning
Learning has also been proven to increase self-esteem and a sense of purpose – we don’t only mean online training modules or mastering your airline codes, but learning something you’ve always been passionate about. Love wine? Take a sommelier course. Interested in languages? Find an evening class. Do something that gives you a sense of purpose and enjoyment.
The final one, before I add my own number six, is giving. Acts of kindness give you purpose, make you happier and more satisfied with life.
… and Kate’s added bonus: sleep
Sleep deprivation costs the UK economy £40 billion per year. But what does it mean to us individually? If you were paid your hourly rate for getting eight hours of sleep a night, an annual increase on your salary, how would you rate your sleep? Would it be higher than it is now? Now triple that figure on your annual salary. That could be the amount you are sacrificing throughout your career by sleepwalking through life.
Lack of energy creates stagnation – we don’t take advantage of the opportunities around us or act in peak performance. Alternatively, a regular investment in eight hours’ sleep can take the richness and quality of your life from flat and dull to technicolour; what would you prefer? Eight hours a day, that’s all it takes.