This post was initially intended to be a list of ideas to stay healthy at work but took an unexpected shift as, ironically, I ended up having to deal with unexpected health challenges. And as often happens in life, both good and challenging things can come all at once, like lots of great work and many wellness details to manage. Health challenges can happen to anyone, and I know it’s important to be realistic when it happens.
Like many people, I sometimes take my health for granted, or I don’t pay attention to my body’s warning signs until I’m unwell and forced to slow down. During busy times, it’s so easy to push my body and mind to do more, assuming I’ll be just fine. But sometimes, my body hits its limit and pushes right back.
Having a health setback, whether big or small, reinforces the point that health has to always come first. Yes, the pace of everything seems to be faster and more demanding these days, and as service-oriented folks, we’re motivated to deliver. But without our health, both physical and mental, we can’t expect ourselves to accomplish much.
What can be done when health goes sideways? Here’s an unscientific list of tips to transition from illness to wellness. Important to note: while we’re not doctors or HR professionals, this list reflects our perspective as a virtual team that spends quite a bit of time talking and thinking about wellness, balance, and creating a healthy work culture and vibe.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
It’s very easy to spend too much time analyzing what you were, or weren’t, doing before becoming unwell, and getting stuck in that headspace. Illness can happen to the best of us, despite our best intentions and efforts.
Use this self-reflection time to identify any changes you can make to take control of your health, and focus on the positive impacts those changes can have on your health to make you well again, or to manage ongoing health challenges.
Communicate with your team
While you don’t need to reveal every detail of your health scenario, your immediate collaborators need to know enough so they can help you transition back to wellness with an achievable game plan.
Your teammates can also be there to offer support. Their encouragement can be key to keeping you motivated and focused on your health goals and celebrating achievements, especially during busy times when it can be easy to fall back on old habits or patterns that don’t serve you well (hello afternoon coffees and sugary treats, we’re talking to you! Lol.)
Redefine what a successful workday means
A successful day at the office can mean not only when you deliver great work or meet a client deadline, but also when you do a few small things that add up to a wellness-filled day, such as taking frequent breaks from the computer, going for a brisk walk at lunch, eating a healthy meal, stretching in the afternoon, having a quick, uplifting call or online chat with a friend or colleague, or simply sitting in the sunshine for a few minutes–points scored for the days you can incorporate most of these healthy habits into your day!
At Backyard Creative, we try to be as flexible as possible with our expectations of others. We know each of our collaborators are juggling their own personal priorities too, and that everyone’s workday is customized to suit their needs.
Set realistic expectations
It may take time to get your health back on track, and that’s okay. You may need to scale back for a while and trim your to-do list to prioritize the most important items, which include rest and wellness.
Once you’re feeling better, try slowly ramping back up and making adjustments as you go, to land at a work and life pace that’s consistent, enjoyable, and most importantly, sustainable for you. Personal sustainability is one of our favourite topics here at Backyard Creative!
Focus on the journey
No one is perfect when it comes to managing their health. We all have stumbles and days when we could have managed our wellness better, especially when we’re learning new healthy habits or our days are action-packed. The key is to stick to your plan and not let setbacks take you away from your wellness journey. Aim for consistency, not perfection, when it comes to your health.
When we start coming out of illness and into wellness, we appreciate our bodies that much more, and its ability to heal and protect itself. And this feeling of gratitude can be a powerful driver to keep us on the wellness journey, so we can stay healthy and balanced over the long term.
No matter what’s going on at work or in life, let’s make the time for all the wellness activities on our to-do lists. Our work will be better for it, and our team will get to experience the best of us more often. And, we will feel more satisfaction after a long work day knowing we worked to our potential and still have energy for the rest of our life.
How do you ensure you take care of your physical and mental health?