A WORKING DEFINITION OF WELLNESS
Wellness is a pro-active, dynamic process whereby the individual or the group become aware of the life choices and ‘response-ability’ they have and then take the decision of making the right choices toward a life of quality and wellness. Deciding on a wellness lifestyle would require everyone to become self-responsible, self-aware and actively involved in their own health and well-being, by gaining more knowledge and insight into the workings of their own body-mind. Wellness is a conscious and continuous integrative process that, with the help, facilitation and support of wellness and health consultants or professionals, will in the long term restore organisational, individual, family and community health.
The dimensions of wellness include the physical, mental/intellectual, emotional, spiritual, occupational, social and environmental aspects of human life. All of these should be taken into consideration for workplace wellness programmes. Wellness programmes should not only include awareness of health-compromising behaviour and existing health risk appraisals or assessments with some information provided, but also behaviour change models and a supportive work environment.
Life constantly presents us with opportunities to learn and grow, for our own good, but also for the benefit of our families and communities (including our work community) – this is the fountainhead of wellness. The true professional is someone involved in and responsive to life, rather than one who just does a job.
WAYS TO WELLNESS
I share some stress solutions below. These can include practical stress management tools and techniques, as well as stress courses. However, there are many other popular wellness programmes that companies and individuals can use such as life-skill development, cultivating a positive mental attitude, complementary health care advice, workplace enhancement: ergonomics, colour, chill rooms, private space, mini breaks, and anger management.
Stress management – an example of workplace wellness
Constant change is a given. Self-knowledge is the key to effective stress management. You can learn to handle your own stress triggers effectively. Here are some suggestions to consider before embarking on your stress management journey.
- Managing stress is a long-term commitment, a process that will require time, re-evaluation, adaptation to your own personal ideas and beliefs, patience and discipline.
- Identify the major stress triggers in your life. Write them down and rank them on a scale from 1 – 10 – the worst stressor being 1. Consider the following when making your personal stress trigger list:
- Decide what you can change
- Become aware of your emotional reaction to stressors – how distress makes you feel, and the physical symptoms you experience
- Enhancing and supporting your physical, mental and spiritual reserves will help you cope with stress.
- Don’t try to ‘fix’ all the stressors on your list at once! Start with one that’s easy – like eating a healthy snack at work or doing just 10 minutes of exercise a day. Baby steps will give you a remarkable feeling of success, control and empowerment!
- Be realistic – set short-term goals. You don’t even want to eliminate all stress – we need positive stress to thrive and survive! Celebrate your successes and progress with meaningful wellness rewards to yourself.
Ten habits to optimise health and wellness
- Take time out during a busy day to breathe slowly and deeply. Combine this with mini breaks to stretch and tone tired muscles, and drink a relaxing herbal tea.
- Find an exercise you enjoy and do it regularly. Try dancing: there’s belly, ballroom and hip-hop. Consider relaxercises such as yoga and tai chi.
- Relax, reflect and meditate every day. Start with 3 to 5 minutes a day and increase to 20 minutes in the morning and evening. Try a guided meditation or relaxation podcast if your mind tends to wander in the beginning. Regular meditation sessions work well in a workplace setting.
- Take a cold shower in the morning and a warm bath at night. Use aromatherapy oils in the bath and in a defuser: try neroli (orange blossom), lavender, geranium and chamomile to balance emotions and encourage relaxation, inner peace and calm.
- Eat well. Eat regularly to prevent low blood sugar with its symptoms of irritability, fatigue, and lack of concentration. Use the correct food supplements daily. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.
- Listen to music that soothes and balances your soul.
- Find something to laugh about every day – the more the better!
- Get out into nature: take a lunch time walk in the park, a stroll around your neighbourhood, or tend your herb garden.
- Spend quality time with others in close relationship every day: your partner, children, family, friends, or a pet.
- Sleep well in a quiet, dark room: 6 to 8 hours every night.
THE RELAXATION RESPONSE MADE EASY
Cardiologist Dr Herbert Benson demystified and secularised Eastern meditation techniques.
This is how you do it
Sit quietly. Become aware of your physical body, alternately tensing and relaxing muscle groups starting at the feet and moving up towards the face, head and neck. Then concentrate on your breathing. Make it slow and deep. Add a count of 4 (or whatever is comfortable for you) as you breathe in, hold for a count of 4, breathe out to a count of 6. Repeat this for a few minutes. If your attention wanders, gently bring it back to your nostrils. Feel the air cool on inhalation, and warm on exhalation. You only need your own breath to become quiet, focused, and serene. Once you’re completely relaxed, repeat your chosen mantra for a few minutes. Become aware of your body, wriggle your toes, feet, fingers and hands. Slowly come back to normal awareness. Rub the palms of your hands vigorously together and place them gently over your closed eyes. Open your eyes and carry on with your day, knowing that your inner retreat can be accessed any day, any time.