Slowing Down to Speed Up and perform better in your work life (and home life)
By Tracy Richardson, Therapist (MSc), Wellness Consultant, and Founder of Serendipity Wellness
Have you ever got so busy at work that you forget to pee, eat lunch or move from your desk? You leave dehydrated, with no energy and backache. Ignoring the basic needs of your leads your nervous system into a stressed sympathetic state and feeling unsafe. Definitely not conducive to optimal performance, especially if this is your daily practice.
Creating boundaries and flicking the off switch is becoming even harder, with 24-7 living and the dopamine-driven demand for our attention greater than ever. But with 79% of UK employees experiencing burnout at a cost of £700 million to the UK economy(1), and 1 in 5 struggling to manage stress at work in 2023, change is necessary.
Life shouldn’t be just about meeting deadlines and going through the motions, it’s about turning up for yourself to make a better contribution.
One of the key areas of the workplace that can be improved upon is company culture and employee wellbeing.
Supporting employees with their wellness can help them to consider how they can perform better and become more aware of the hidden stressors that contribute to excess stress to the mind and body.
Change of pace
Business moves pretty fast, so seeing the calm through the chaos can be difficult to master. However, space to breathe and take time out helps with the quality of decision-making and keeping up with real-time action in a changing economy, when fast decisions are necessary.
Where employees have the opportunity to press pause, which allows them to be present, regulate the nervous system, and provide space for decision-making, creative flow, and to see the calm through the chaos. Slowing the mind to calm the body helps create space to think.
Creating a shift
Forming a positive work culture where employees feel supported, involved in the business, and recognized for their contributions, can ensure a fair, holistic, and transparent workplace and contribute to employee loyalty. This
As an employer, prioritizing your employees includes determining what you can do to advocate for their well-being. There are many options available, and even though it’s the individual employees that need to take action, accessibility, creating opportunities, and simplicity is key to supporting their needs and well-being.
Here are four key points for how they can start to make changes:
One simple way to set a boundary, especially when you need to disconnect, whilst still being connected, is to use airplane mode on your phone. It is great for those of you that literally feel lost without your phone being with you at all times. Everyone needs an off switch and time out, so use it at times when you absolutely must focus on work, at mealtimes, when you are with family and friends, and at night so your sleep remains uninterrupted. When you are better able to respect and protect your time with clear work boundaries you can take that much-needed downtime to recharge and restore your batteries. This means that once you return to work you are firing on all cylinders.
Connecting to nature
Your circadian rhythm is your light/ dark cycle and this influences many of the processes that occur in your body. Sunlight contains different frequencies of the light spectrum, that are sensed by receptors in your eyes and skin, and tell the master clock in your brain what time of day or night it is. This influences the synchronization of your body processes with your environment- either to be promoting a wakeful state or a restful state- day and night. So you could say that sunlight (and lack of it at night) is super important to your wellness. To reset this clock see the sunrise in the morning and the sunset at night and don’t use artificial light at night- simple, but not necessarily easy. By having the appropriate physiological responses in the mind and body at the correct times helps you with performing well at work.
Grounding is where you draw upon the subtle, natural electrical charge that the earth contains to recharge and renew your energy, a bit like recharging a battery. A grounded body is healthier and more balanced. It helps you to feel centered, strong, relaxed, solid, less tense, less stressed, and stable. Think about electrical health and safety… everything is ‘earthed’ or ‘grounded’ for stability and safety. The Earth beneath your feet can transfer electrons from the Earth to your body which balances the bioelectric cellular charge to create a stable internal bioelectrical environment, promoting the normal functioning of all your body systems. Nobel prize winner (1965) Richard Feynman claimed grounding stabilized the electric potential between the body and the Earth.
Replenishing your body
Nutrition is a significant part of wellness, it provides you with the nutrients and energy to accomplish the things that you do. If you give the body the optimal amount of fuel, containing the nutrients it requires, it’s rather good at doing the things it needs to do. If you’re filling your body with ‘poor’ fuel, it’s not going to do well and you won’t get the results you want. Similar to when you give your car the proper fuel, oil, battery, water, and maintenance, it is rather good at getting you where you need to go.
To get the biggest bang for your buck, both financially and for your body, nutrient-dense foods is what you need. These are foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients important for health- you are fuelling your body with more of what it needs for good health. Organic whole foods provide more energy as they are nutrient-dense and so you need less of them as the body can process and utilize them better- you also generally feel lighter and more awake after a meal as opposed to lethargic and sluggish.
When you fuel yourself appropriately it provides you with the energy to keep your head in the game in life and business.
Being grateful at work to your colleagues, employees or employers supports a sense of belonging and helps to find meaning in your work. This supports everyone in feeling appreciated, valued, respected, and empowered to reach their fullest potential. Gratitude creates a ripple effect that makes you more appreciative and happy(2), which encourages enhanced staff well-being, morale, enthusiasm, and engagement at work. Boosting the positive company culture along with performance, productivity, and positive business outcomes. Being thankful is an often overlooked way to support wellness. It brings an awareness to the things that are actually going well for you and aid in satisfying a higher psychological need of ‘becoming the best you can be’(3). It can be as simple as saying ‘thank you’ to someone. Everyone wants to feel seen and valued.
By promoting employee engagement in pursuit of their own wellness, helps with positive mental and physical health and has a knock-on effect on workplace performance. Rewarding or recognizing employees’ efforts is a surefire way to motivate them to complete tasks at work. The brain loves rewards, so the biggest dopamine release is when you receive a reward or good news unexpectedly. Recent studies indicate dopamine(4) (your reward hormone) may play a role in influencing how the brain evaluates whether a mental task is worth the effort. A thank you can go a long way.
Harnessing the power of presence and slowing down is one of the game-changers for improving wellness for work (and life).
What one thing can you implement today that will support your staff in slowing down and relaxing?
Tracy Richardson is a Therapist (MSc), Wellness Consultant, and Founder of Serendipity Wellness® based in Warwickshire, UK, and the author of The Little Book of Wellness: An A-Z Guide to Nourish Your Body, Mind + Soul.
Tracy is passionate about working with female founders and entrepreneurs, who find themselves knackered, stressed, overwhelmed, and close to burnout, to support them with easy-to-action solutions that simultaneously enhance health, performance & business life.