As a wellness coordinator and wellness coach who has worked with clients in one-on-one, group, and corporate settings for over 10 years, I know the following is true: You can’t change people; they can only change themselves. Furthermore, health doesn’t start by DOING more, it starts and lasts by changing the way you THINK. Hence, a part of me cringes whenever I hear about wellness programs that require a lot of tracking, a lot of attending, a lot of… doing.
Such “outside-in” programs might be doing more harm than good because they lead people to believe that health requires too much busy work and “work” in general. This is not the truth and not the impression people need.
The following approaches to wellness – whether at the workplace or in your personal life – are worth considering if you want to simplify and sustain wellness for good… from the inside out.
1. Be flexible.
Allow staff to flex their time, telework, and/or use paid time off instead of designated sick or vacation. The more ownership staff have of their time, the more time they have to take care of themselves. At the personal level, being flexible might mean smaller bouts of exercise throughout the day rather than an hour at the gym. Whether you run or walk a mile or whether you’re active for 60 minutes once a day or 15 minutes four times a day, you accomplish the same work and experience similar health benefits.
2. Incorporate meaning.
Some of the most successful worksite wellness initiatives focus on acts of kindness and an attitude of gratitude, things that benefit health as much as, if not more than, proper food and exercise. The same goes for personal success: find meaning and true purpose for health (e.g. being a good role model for kids) and you’ll be more likely to stick to a healthy lifestyle and sustain your goals.
3. Keep learning.
Sponsor trainings, speakers, or employee book clubs that focus jointly on personal and professional development. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success & Performance at Work by Shawn Achor, Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges, and Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Michelle May provide insight and learning everyone can benefit from.
4 Be set for success.
Speaking of eating, it’s not the role of a workplace to tell people what they should or should not put into their mouths. It is the employer’s responsibility, however, to not get in the way of people making healthy choices. So serve water rather than sugary drinks during non-meal-time meetings and ensure fruit and vegetables are always options when snacks or meals are provided. On the home front, skip the processed foods for the most part. Buying fresh foods might cost more, but since they satisfy you and nourish you, you’ll need less and come out ahead.
5. Separate weight from wellness.
Weight is not the source of health, it’s the side effect of it. Workplaces and people will fare better if they concentrate on well-being (known as a weight-neutral approach) rather than weight-loss and dieting (a weight-centric approach). Being a weight-neutral workplace or person promotes health at every size, improves eating competency, increases self-esteem, and helps people achieve a healthy weight eventually, just more slowly, safely, and sustainably.
Give these approaches a try and discover wellness from the inside out. Discover a culture and mindset where health is just the natural way of living, working, and doing business. Discover workplace and personal wellness at their finest!
Liz De Jongh is the President of Well Simplified LLC, a company that helps people and organizations end their struggles with weight and be happier, healthier, and more productive. Find out more at www.wellsimplified.com and www.mindsetgoal.com.
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