Katie 2

Part 1 of our True Wellbeing review with wellbeing expert Katie Walls and Parents@Work founder Emma Walsh looked at where we are currently at with our relationship to wellbeing and self-care. In Part 2 we look at wellbeing in the workplace, how managers can support employees with self-care and how our families are impacted by our choices when we care for ourselves better.

Workplace wellbeing

E: “Absenteeism due to health care costs the economy billions and organisations and Government are grappling with how to manage good health and productivity of their employees. So if our workplaces are naturally busy and stressful how can we manage the stress?”

K: “We’re only able to impart what we are living ourselves. The best medicine is to live by example and being more open with how we’re feeling with things. Because if you’re a manager and feeling stressed the staff are going to be feeling that as well so bringing it back to being human and realising that there are tensions – both positive and negative.”

“But it’s very clear when something is counteractive and infringing on our productivity. If we value what we are feeling in that more, then that’s an insight.  If everyone appears ok with it if you look under the surface there is a common theme and that might just be with how people are relating or that there’s a system in place that’s not supporting and causing stress.”

“I genuinely encourage more honesty and opening those conversations and addressing things and not being scared to do so in the sense that ‘if I go there I’m opening a can of worms’. You might be thinking that it’s something big but it might only be one aspect that can be very easily tweaked. Productivity can quite often then go to a another level”.

What can leaders do to keep their employees and teams healthy?

K: “We quite often put a lot of pressure on ourselves as managers, thinking we need to have a thick skin. When trust and respect really comes from someone who’s quite humble and that doesn’t mean they have to have all the answers but if the care is there and the consideration of what might be happening at home. Just checking in and asking ‘you don’t seem yourself today, is everything ok?’ – often is enough to break down whatever tension is there. But if you are sensing something, then there is something there.”

How can we make sure the life rhythms and work patterns are actually working for us?

K: “The easy way to ascertain that is ask yourself: ‘how am I feeling?’ If I’m feeling great in the morning then that’s a great marker for me. If at the end of the day my body is feeling a bit tired but I’m not feeling exhausted that’s a great marker because if I’ve worked many hours the body is going to get tired but if I’ve worked and feel drained or exhausted in any way then something is not right with how I’ve been during the day.

“When we look at our balance with that – our body is always the barer of truth. It’s black and white when it comes to our vitality”.

“If life’s feeling like hard work or you’re pushing against the grind then there is something with how you are with yourself, your care for yourself that needs addressing.”

“We might get overwhelmed with where do I start with that but what if we actually ascertain what are my biggest stress areas and then working with one of those aspects rather than trying to tackle the whole lot. Commit to that with yourself and then see what happens with that. Then you can take the next step and the next step.”

The power of appreciation

K: “Appreciation is very powerful and very underrated.”

“Ask yourself at the end of the day: ‘what’s that one aspect I do appreciate that perhaps I wasn’t able to conduct myself in that way 6 months ago?’ There’s been a lot of work gone into play to make that happen and that needs to be appreciated.

What is the impact on children when parents struggle with self-care?

K: You learn from what you observe. Quite often you have the best words for ‘this is what needs to be done’ or ‘this is what will make you feel better’ but how cool would it be if instead we went: ‘ok, the best way of supporting my child is through my reflection and with that I’ve got to start taking responsibility with me and then I’ll have a quality in my work that they will feel.’ That’s going to make our parenting much easier yet we often approach it the other way around and then we’ve got to do it the hard way.”

“It’s contagious because we do want to be well. It’s naturally in-built within us so if we’re living with someone who is living that quality we’re naturally going to be inspired because it feels so yummy. It’s like ‘I want some of that’.”

“People can feel when there’s a shift taking place and everyone gets the support from that – be it at home or at work”.

Final practical tip

K: “Prioritise yourself and schedule it in your diary. Create say, a 3-week programme and just see the benefits you feel with that. Actually create the time, put the time in there and bring the focus back to the emotional as well as the physical. So if you know there are conversations that need to take place – be at home or in the workplace – then have them.”

To read Part 1 tap here.