For the first time in our lives, we are all out of our comfort zones. With COVID, the war in the Ukraine, continued polarization within our own communities and nation, the rise in violence and crime, and continued worry about our health, well-being, and even safety, every person is feeling the negative effects. This stress is commingled with our workplace issues to the point where there is seemingly little room for relief! It is a double-edged sword – for some, working from home has meant connecting more with their families, but it’s also created a stressful environment that blurs work and family life.
There is always a silver lining and there are several that have come out of the pandemic. One, of course, is the spotlight that shines on the vast importance of Social and Emotional Learning within our schools, homes, communities, and WORK. The other is on the essential nature of self-care. We are usually expected to do this on our own time, which is few and far between. With the continued low level threats that we live under every day and the anxiety they produce, it has become necessary for this practice to extend to the workplace as well.
Psychological safety has become a buzzword in the workplace. This means being your authentic self, comfortable expressing your needs, and working in an environment of trust, respect, and honesty. Advocating for ourselves has become a necessity as we see the world changing around us on a daily basis and the impact this has on us as individuals as well as our families.
In our fast paced and ever changing world, it is up to each individual to find ways to nurture our physical, mental, and emotional well-being throughout our work day. We might not realize that we are already doing things within the context of our work that can help us in other areas of our lives. Harvard researcher Ellen Langer conducted a study on hotel maids in 2007. She gave them a thorough physical exam and then split them into two groups. She showed one group a 15 minute video that explained that the level of physical activity demanded of them in the course of their work every day was synonymous to the Surgeon General’s recommendation for exercise to maintain optimal health. They were given a list of physical, mental, and emotional benefits they should expect to receive as they followed these guidelines, such as improved heart health, weight loss, and better moods. The control group did not receive any information. Both groups went back to their regular jobs as hotel maids. After two weeks, they returned to the research center where they were given another physical exam. The maids that had been made mindfully aware of the benefits of doing what they were already doing experienced those benefits on an exponential level! This explains that being aware of the benefits of something helps us experience them on a deeper level.
We know when we practice self-care we can have a happier and healthier outlook which permeates everything we do. Those that take care of themselves first have better sleep, improved focus, and healthier relationships. Taking care of yourself increases our self confidence, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves our resilience. Best of all it enables us to show up for others in our lives as the best version of ourselves!
The Choose Love Movement includes the benefits of practicing essential life skills for our educators and students throughout our programming. We also continue to make sure our team is reminded as well. We have made self-care a priority. I thought I would share some of the ways we offer our employees the ability to build in self-care at work using the Formula for Choosing Love and ‘Having a Lot of Fun.’
Nurturing Our Inner Compassion Series. Michelle and Paula, two of our Canadian Ambassadors, created a weekly workshop to practice compassion and focus our inner world for wellness. These workshops walk us through easy and gentle techniques and practices that utilize our brain/body connection to release stress and restore vitality in body and mind to facilitate health and tap into our potential for unlimited well-being that can carry us into our week.
Recognition. We celebrate each other with quarterly performance awards that highlight someone who goes above and beyond for themselves and those we serve. We also recognize birthdays and other special events in our team meetings and on social media. Our team works from home and we recognize that they have many demands, besides their jobs. We offer a flexible work day so they can take time during the day to be with and care for their families and other obligations and do their work when it’s convenient.
Meditation. Our team has access to daily meditations with New York Times best-selling author and meditation guru, David Romanelli, that walk us through an inspirational message and then a short meditation to bring us to the present moment and get us ready for the day, or provide a centered and great ending to our day. Often, these meditations challenge us to become even more aware of ourselves, and each other, and let go of the hurt we might be experiencing and move toward healing.
Group Intention. Our team has set aside time one day per week that gives us a well-deserved respite and is specifically designed to help us come together into the present moment and send amplified ‘Nurturing Healing Love’ toward someone in need. Oftentimes our team or one of our educators will have a special request and this helps us become aware and understand what challenges our team members are facing in their lives outside of work.
Feel Good Fridays. Our team has time every other Friday that we share, once again, with our meditation guru David Romanelli who helps us process any difficulty we experienced during the week and guides us into the weekend with equanimity and peace in our hearts. We also schedule time each week designated specifically to catch up as a team and share micro-moments of joy from the week. We bounce ideas off each other and help each other move past places where we might be struggling. Every other Friday, we work a half day so we can enjoy an elongated weekend.
All these special accommodations are given in appreciation for a team that goes above and beyond for each other and those we serve. Something new we are beginning for Spring is one day off per month to implement Jesse’s message of “Have a Lot of Fun.” Afterward, we will share with the team how we spent the day in a special way so we can all experience it. We have one life to live and each moment counts. Our work life should be as satisfying and fulfilling as our home life. In this way we are consistent in our goal of Choosing Love!