Why wellbeing and selfcare is so important
Soul Alignment Mentor at Equenergy; wellbeing naturally
Why is wellbeing at work important?
I believe that wellbeing at work is so important because our working life takes up such a high percentage of our time. Also, if things are not good at work, it spills over into other areas of our lives, such as home, friends and family. If we’re stressed and unhappy at work, it can affect our sleep, appetite, social life and relationships. When we realise this, it’s obvious that wellbeing at work plays a major role in our overall health and happiness. It can impact on our self-esteem and confidence too, which can make it more difficult for us to stand up and take action, such as speaking to our line manager, or even looking for another job. Sadly this can become a negative spiral leading to overwhelm, burn-out and time off due to sickness. This is obviously not a good place to be, either for the employee, or for the employer. Sadly I often hear stories of companies that ‘talk the talk’, but don’t follow this up with appropriate actions. For example they’ll talk about the importance of managing caseloads for their staff, and work life balance, then in the next breath they ask people to ‘just’ take on this extra client or work those few extra hours. If this isn’t addressed, it can easily slip into a culture of overwork and high stress levels, resulting in poor staff morale. Not only that, but staff who are feeling frazzled might take this out on co-workers, and even customers, meaning that the situation deteriorates even further and everybody suffers. In contrast, when a company supports their staff, really listening to their needs and responding in helpful ways, it means that people feel valued and encourages high morale, loyalty and also has been shown to result in greater productivity. Not only that, but customer experience improves too. Basically, wellbeing at work is good for the staff and good for business.
What is good mental wellbeing?
Unfortunately our western view of health has led us to the misconception that we can separate our physical from our emotional wellbeing – and even divide our body into distinct parts, as if they have no bearing on each other, and as if they can be seen in isolation from the environment in which we live. This is not the case. So, our wellbeing is about all of who we are and, since we are Mind, Body and Soul, how we feel comes from the wellbeing of all of these parts. For me, the mental aspect of this is about how we relate to our mind – our thoughts, beliefs and the feelings that these bring up for us. Everything we experience gets filtered through something called our reticular activating system. This acts like a filter, deciding what information we pay attention to and what we ignore. It therefore plays a huge role in our how we perceive the world around us. Some information, however, always gets through, such as our name being called and anything that we feel might be a threat to our safety. Our thoughts and beliefs have a huge impact on this as they literally wire our brain for what we pay attention to, and for our level of threat sensitivity. Obviously we need a certain amount of awareness in order to keep ourselves safe, but it’s also important to know that our brain generally has a ‘negative bias’, meaning that it focuses on looking for dangers, rather than looking for opportunities. The degree to which it does this will depend on a variety of factors, including our past experiences. When we experience trauma – big or small - if we are unable to process it and let go of the emotional intensity around what happened, it will be held in our body and will cause our general anxiety level to rise. Over time, we might become desensitised to this background anxiety to a degree. We push it down in order to carry on with our day to day lives, but it’s still there in our ‘stress bucket’, meaning that we have a reduced capacity for coping with further trauma. For me, then, mental wellbeing is being able to recognise when we’re holding stress and trauma, being able to take steps to address it and so to begin to lower the level in our stress bucket allowing us to get back to feeling balanced, centred, grounded, resilient, safe and able to enjoy life once again.
How can I improve my emotional wellbeing?
For me, the best way to improve our wellbeing – on all levels – is to develop our awareness of what’s really going on within ourselves. To do this, it’s important to have a sense of open curiosity along with a deep compassion for our Self – to understand that we really were doing the best we could at the time, with the knowledge and resources we had available to us in that moment. Looking back from where we are now, it’s easy for us to judge ourselves and to be critical: Why did I do that stupid thing? I should have known better! I should have said / done things differently! But we ‘forget’ that in the now we have the benefit of learning from what happened, and also we’re no longer in the emotional intensity of that moment. So, for me, the first thing for us to do is to pay attention to our self-talk. We are often our own worst critic! But when we speak critically and pick on someone’s faults, it feels like an attack and puts them on the defensive. And it’s no different when we’re talking to our Self. If, on the other hand, we can talk gently, with open curiosity, and just explore what happened, how we felt, and why we responded in the way that we did, it offers us great opportunities for learning more about ourselves, our needs, and where these aren’t currently being met. This then opens the door for us to respond with deep self-care, giving ourselves the time and space we need in order to address the issues that have come to light. Another vital step is self-forgiveness. Often this can be a real challenge! It’s not about ‘letting ourselves off the hook’ but rather about facing the discomfort of really acknowledging the choices we’ve made and where they didn’t serve us, then choosing to let them go and to learn how to respond differently next time. When we can take these steps, it helps us to let go of fear, guilt, anxiety and self-loathing and instead to build self-confidence, assurance and esteem. It also supports feelings of balance, groundedness, and overall wellbeing.
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