We’re no strangers to the idea of nurturing wellbeing to help each of us live a little better every day, and we know there’s no one way to do it or go about it in order to feel good, calm, focused, relaxed, to de-stress, move, eat or sleep. We’re all different, so navigating the advice can be a challenge, especially when there’s always someone with a ‘quick fix for everyone’ that inevitably doesn’t work, but you tried and now feel rubbish about yourself. But your Beingwell Heroes are here - we’ve got 3 steps to keep it simple.
It’s World wellbeing Week and what better way to celebrate than with some help navigating the sea of information we can access and where to start taking care of yourself - for you, not your cousin’s-mum’s-best-friend’s-dog. Our Life Coach, Grace McMahon, gave us 3 steps to keep looking after your wellbeing simple so we’re sharing them with you too.
Whether you’ve just started your wellbeing journey, have been making steady progress, keep falling off the path, or simply can’t fathom where to begin you’ll want to read this.
3 steps to keeping it simple when it comes to your wellbeing
#1 Wellbeing is a hierarchy, treat it this way.
When we have a list, big or small, of goals or things we’d like to work on or improve, we often try to address the lot all at once, full steam ahead. Now, we can do this, and for some, it works out for a while, till we hit a wall of fatigue or an unexpected disruption crops up. Then we find it really hard to pick it all back up, we end up mad at or mean to ourselves for not being better and being able to do it all, and we give up because it’s all too hard.
For many, everything at once is just an express route to burnout. Instead, we need to look at our wellbeing as a hierarchy, that is there are different levels or steps to it. For example, say you’ve been struggling with your sleep because you’ve been under a lot of stress at work but haven’t had any time to really exercise recently so are feeling extra sluggish, and you’re ready to make some changes. Now, we could go in full steam ahead and have a go at tackling it all, but to ensure we build a practical toolkit that works for us and will see results, addressing these issues one at a time would be more beneficial long term.
You might go for this approach:
Tackle the stress: get this addressed, ask for help at work with your responsibilities or time management, and practice relaxation techniques to reduce your stress levels, especially at home or before bedtime
Then we might have more time to exercise, so we rejoin the gym or start a class, helping to tire us out, manage our stress better, feel good about ourselves and take time to look after ourselves.
Now we can tackle our sleep, which might have improved a little from these two things anyway, and we can work on this further without trying to force ourselves to sleep while ignoring everything else (which doesn’t work).
You might do this a little different, and tackle your sleep before your lack of movement - but the stress must be tackled first! Figuring out where to start might not be straightforward. Go for the biggest obstacle or the thing you feel most able to address first. In this case, if we’d tried to address sleep first, the stress would have got in the way and we’d have seen little improvement and be left feeling defeated and still tired, and without time to move more.
#2 Wellbeing is a juggling act we need to practice
There are so many elements of our wellbeing to consider, especially since it’s become such a popular topic and there are new tricks and hacks cropping up everywhere. Taking control of your wellbeing takes quite a lot of practice, and even the most skilled of us aren’t managing it all the time.
The key is to do your best, and let things slip from time to time. You wouldn’t decorate an entire house at once (unless it’s your job maybe), you wouldn’t use all the equipment at the gym at once (and couldn’t), and you couldn’t do a day’s worth of work tasks all at once. So why are we all trying to make huge changes to our wellbeing and then wondering why it doesn’t work?
It is always better to be making small, actionable steps, that you might pick up and put down at different times, to help you navigate the world of wellbeing and actually feel any benefit from trying it out.
There will be times when our diet is looking fresh, we’re cooking from home, meal prepping, having healthy snacks, the kids are enjoying what you’ve made for them, and there’ll be other times when you can’t remember any recipes for weeknight dinners, haven’t had the chance to do a proper food shop or just really fancy a takeaway. That’s perfectly normal and ok.
There might be times we’re routinely at the gym or working out, we’ve got a good thing going that we enjoy and want to stick to, and then your car breaks down and you can’t get there or the cost of repairing it means you’ve got to cut back elsewhere right now. So our healthy habits turn to distant memories, which could be more than enough to put us off or feel like we’ve fallen out of a routine and can’t get it back, so we don’t and we give up and then feel disheartened, mad at ourselves and probably the car for causing all these issues.
Whether we’re regularly practising meditation each morning but lie in bed scrolling through social media before we sleep, or we’re starting the day with a protein-filled breakfast before we head to the gym only to feel really uninspired and unmotivated at work, or perhaps work is great but sleep isn’t your friend right now. The point is to create a toolkit of routines and techniques that we can fall back on when things get tough or we just need a little more care, we’ll not have it mastered all the time and it’s absolutely ok to let things slip from time to time without feeling like a failure, or move on and try something new, broaden your options of support - try to get back up or focus on something else that helps you for a while.
#3 Listen to what YOU need
Ignoring your needs is holding you back. Generally speaking, we have tuned out of our internal monologues, switched off to our needs and have spent more time worrying about what everyone else is doing than considering whether we’re feeling good as a result. For a long time, we’ve paid attention to everyone else's needs and made sure the people around us are happy. And while this is important, it means we’ve turned a blind eye to our own needs and stopped listening to our bodily intuition and understanding ourselves.
What we tend to do, is collect a load of ideas, consider what everyone else is doing, and then spend some (perhaps a lot) of time comparing experiences, results, and abilities, to others who have more experience and years practising than us, or even to those with completely different interests or goals to us. And then we feel pretty rubbish, disappointed in ourselves, perhaps self-berating, which is stealing our joy and our ability to actually address our wellbeing in a way that works for us and therefore, feel any benefit.
To really grasp wellbeing tips, hacks, tools, and advice (whatever you want to call it) we have to start tuning into ourselves again. Understanding why something is making us feel so angry, or causing an emotional reaction, checking in with how stressed we are, whether we’re hungry or tired or need to move. Exploring a range of methods, tools and techniques to figure out which actually helps us relax or feel good, or that we enjoy doing and want to keep doing it whether that’s training for Iron Man marathons or just jumping on the kid's trampoline for 10 minutes a day - you have to do you, or the journey feels so much tougher.
It’s a total minefield, but the small steps, the general advice like getting fresh air, exercising and eating well all really do help when we can establish routines that work for us, that we can drop and pick up again, and that helps us tackle it one step at a time.
Wellbeing is an active journey, there’s no completion date, finishing line or medal I’m afraid. But having something to work on continuously, makes it feel easier when we slip up or off course and allows us to really personalise the experience to our needs and goals with less pressure. It’s not always easy, it’s not always straightforward and some support figuring out how it all looks for you might be necessary.
And speaking of support, we’re now offering Live Workshops on a range of topics, from stress management and burnout to remote work and conflict resolution. If you or your company are interested in knowing more or booking a workshop for your workplace get in touch here.