Day 15: I Hate Mondays

Today was a bit of a hard day to get going and I am not sure if it was some residual aftershocks from my session with Martin or maybe consuming more alcohol than I should have following it and without question not eating a balanced diet on Sunday have not helped. All this has not left me feeling full of beans today. It is important to recognise that not every day it’s going to be great and with a more conscious mindset I can see how different influences can have negative impacts on my overall wellbeing. I had to smile today as I overheard three people on the underground all discussing how they hate Monday’s as if it was their last day on the miserable earth. As the narrative continued they bounced from one person to the other in their office – with more blame as to how they did this or that! All the time ignoring the part that they played in this corporate battle of the ‘I am the star’. I appreciate that for many without ever considering the prequel that might have played out only days before might be the factor which distorts this view of “Mondays”. If I was to take ownership of what I do on the weekend and fully appreciate what impact this will have on how I feel on a Monday – would I still do it. Mmm often times yes, as I am only looking and living in the now and not focused on my personal wellbeing. I haven’t been kind to myself or utilised my downtime in a manner that promotes wellness in my mind, body or spirit. Potentially the way I see Monday is a reflection of the way I have treated myself over the last two days looking back over the weekend when I was not kind to myself and I utilised old habits to find some form of solitude. That definitely is impacting on the way I feel both physically and mentally about the start of the week. It is important that leaders recognise this both in themselves and in their teams. Promoting wellness in an organisation should not just be during the working hours if we are creating a culture of wellbeing and a belief in promoting all aspects of it to ensure that our people understand the benefits not only about wellness at work but how to maintain it as part of their everyday life. This comes in the form of greater education and as a higher purpose for the way in which they treat themselves and then respect others. And in this we can help support staff to find a much better work-life balance.

Mantra: wellness is mine to own

Day 14: Bad Habits Die Hard

Today was a little bit of a slow day and something that I needed to own. Of course, we need to have some downtime time however what I have started to recognise in myself is just how destructive I have been to all three of my zones of mind, body and spirit. When left unmanaged I was not nourishing them appropriately and then one would have a knock on effect to the other, the balance between them lost. Falling back into my poor diet habits of just not to eating clearly sent my body into shock as it was enjoying its new diet. This is surprising as I have been feeling great after eating breakfast and a healthy lunch and a balanced dinner and today I did not eat until early evening(if that is what you’d call it), as I consumed two pieces of toast with cheese just before bed. Having explored my diet with Victoria this was one bad habit that I fell back on and the result was clearly not great for my motivation or my sleep. However, this time was slightly different as I chose to consciously feel the effects on my body and mind and I could see a negative correlation. This has been a pattern that I have been doing over the last couple of years blind to the real impact that it was causing. In my first consultation with Victoria, we discussed the importance of nourishment and what the right food brings to the bodies and the impact it has on our wellness. From my perspective, I often fall into bad habits just at the brink of introducing a new one that would benefit me. The question I have been challenged with is – why? I have worked on several organisational transformation programmes and found the answer in the people and businesses that I have worked with over the years and those of which have been challenged by change. Even though the current environment is not benefiting us, it offers comfort in the fact that we know what we know and we know what we get. So often we will either stay in or return to this behaviour as we draw comfort from it. In many cases, we will extend our reach just far enough to get to the edge of our comfort zone and then return home. As a species, I guess this is something we have been doing since our hunter and gatherer days and the early formation of cultures and communities. This cycle just repeats itself whether it be a single individual or a company – reinforcing my point that businesses behave like humans because they are driven by humans. My advice to organisations that want to embark on any transformation is to ensure that you choose the leaders to manage the change carefully as it takes an inspirational leader that is not challenged by risk and has the resilience and open mind to drive it through to the end and beyond.

Mantra: Feed my spirit with the foods I eat.

Day 13 – The Ying and the Yuk

This week I’ve been really focusing on cleansing looking at toxins from the food that feeds my body, the self-talk that fills my head and to the relationships that I surround myself with. I have to say I really felt some toxins flowing through my body today following my session with Martin. This was two-fold as I believe that I let go of so much pent up stress and built-up negative energy during the session. I also then decided to go out and have a few drinks with some friends as this socialising is a very healthy thing to do but I think that the alcohol hit me harder today than normal. I only had two drinks and this is very much in support of a balanced approach to well-being however it is all about timing. Following any massage I have had in the past, I have always been told not to drink alcohol post the experience due to the fact that it can have some adverse effects. Well if a massage was a 5/10 on the Richter scale I would think the session with Martin would definitely be hitting an 8 or 9 in terms for releasing and opening up my body’s energy flow. Hence today I suffered the effects of a killer hangover coupled with the regret of – why did I do that, as I knew better. However, it’s very important for me to recognise that this is a 50-day challenge and it’s all about learning and experiencing new things and setting better and more appropriate limits and rules for myself in support of my own wellbeing. What these early days are showing me is that it is not about getting better and stronger every day as these early days are more about better understanding myself and what is currently working and not in my daily routine. It is all about resetting realistic expectations and guidelines. Also in my search to discover what balance really means to me and others, it reminds me that none of us are infallible. Striving for perfection only adds more stress as the fear of failure can impact on our effort and desire for success. Looking back at the 2017 Human Living Brand project, where I took on a dramatic transformation, the rules were very clear and for 30-days I followed them and I found it quite easy to follow because they were a no break clause. However that was not real life as it was not sustainable. Hence my advice to any organisation or leader that is involved in change or transformation is to slow it down, make it manageable and allow people the time to absorb the difference before moving on. It is also to listen to your people and check in regularly to better understand how they feel and the impact that change has on their wellbeing.

Mantra: Check in on myself and be honest about my feelings

Day 12: Pushing Buttons

It’s really hard to believe that we have now come to the end of week two and as I am looking back I must say that I believe that I am starting to make some small changes on various aspects of my own wellbeing and in that look forward to seeing how these connect to some of the bigger changes that I am looking to make in the world around me. Today I did my first body session with Martin and without question, it was not what I was expecting. I guess I had not appreciated just how much stress and various traumas I’ve been storing throughout my body and the impact this can have not only on its strength but on the way that I present myself. During the session, he worked with and on these stress points and muscle triggers and I can be clear, it was painful. However, it was also strange as the pain was greater in some areas than others and was more held by me than him applying excessive pressure. I did feel lighter and more open in both mind and body after the session and can start to see how all three of these areas (Mind, Body, Spirit) are so interwoven. That is not to say I am any closer to figuring this stuff out yet. At 51 I feel that I have to relearn so much after the last few years when I really stopped paying attention to my own wellbeing. The old analogy no pain no gain has some purpose here however I do appreciate that pain is not the point of this challenge. As I write this and continue to reflect back on the session with Martin as it has left me with a sense of calm. Also with a sense of confusion as it has seemingly released some deeper unconscious energies that I am unsure of. I am really not sure how it all connects together but I can definitely feel that something is happening and areas of my body are finally feeling a little more relaxed and maybe some of the confusion is due to the fact that I’ve just got used to not feeling this way – relaxed.

Mantrakeep an open mind 

Day 11: Time Crunch

The first memory of the day was one of being very heavy headed. My sleeping pattern has definitely started to change and I’m sleeping deeper than I have in ages. The strange thing is I am not feeling that refreshed as it is taking me longer than normal to shake it off. I guess this is one of the things that I have to continuously remind myself about balance is that it is not a one-hit wonder cure and one that will just fix itself overnight. To balance anything it must wobble and move back and forth until it finally slows and comes to a rest. It is in this balancing act that we find the correct point when both sides are in harmony when each is supporting the other. This challenge to look at wellness both from a personal perspective and one of promoting better health within the workplace has been more demanding than I thought. Don’t get me wrong. I am enjoying it and starting to see the benefit however I am still struggling to manage to fit some parts into a busy diary. Just how do people do it? As at the moment, I am still trying to break away from old behaviours and make room for new ones and it is not so easy, but why? Today I had several conversations with individuals in an attempt to find out what others think wellness or wellbeing means in the context of being part of company culture. I had a variety of answers with some people thinking more from the aspect of the body while others directed it more toward mental health. Other conversations included diet and even relationships. At the end of the day, it is a combination of all of these things and I think that I have been managing myself in such an unkind way – I have more work than I thought to find balance with Balance. What I can say is that I believe that to be healthy an organisation must support its culture across all areas considered wellbeing. It is such a vast subject that companies must adopt a diverse approach that supports all of its employees and use a vision of a connected healthy workforce.

Mantra: don’t be hard on yourself!

Day 10: Owning it!

Following on from yesterday I decided that today I would wake up with a much more conscious mind choosing my intentions for the day. So before even getting out of bed, I decided that I was going to do my 10-minute meditation. During this protected time, I made a conscious choice to really focus on the language that I use and the way in which my energy can project onto others. I have to say as the day continued I really did notice a difference not only in myself but also in the way others responded to me. As I tend to think that I am generally quite a happy person and very considerate of others, this focus must extend beyond my holding the door and saying thank you – two of my Canadian favourite past times. During this 50-day Balance: Mind|Body|Spirit challenge I have to continuously remind myself that this is a journey and things are going to be going well on some occasions and not so well on others. Trying to really focus on cleansing this week has been a lot more difficult than I thought having started the week by cleaning the office I would have ticked the box and had a fresh perspective for the week. However, just cleaning away some dust and some old paper in the office is only part of the fix. The toxic environment that impacts on our wellbeing can extend into relationships that we engage in all the way through self-talk and the way we speak to ourselves. This brings a new aspect to the understanding of the effect that the culture in which we work has a massive impact on our wellbeing. Healthy and supportive relationships at work can be make-or-break for many people. Hence my advice is to be more conscious of this and with this awareness, we should seek out those that support a more balanced approach through trust and positivity. Hence my decision to be more present today and seek out those that nourish my spirit and impact my wellbeing in a positive way. We must recognise that we have more power when we consciously control all the toxins that erode use. My advice to all leaders is to own this power and to stand up and put in place protection for their team to remove these from the environment.

Mantra: There is order in chaos

Day 9: The Difference a Day Brings

Having read back yesterday’s blog it seemed that I had got everything sorted and I was on a motivational and positive trajectory however today I seemed less happy and less motivated due to several challenging issues with work and a few personal ones to boot. I guess this is what we call real-life. Over the years I have done my fair share of detoxes whether that be a juice detox, a three-day detox, a five-day detox, as far as the 10-day detox and each time, in the end, I felt some benefit however the journey to that final day took many twists and turns. Each of these focuses on the body and clearing out the build-up of toxins such as alcohol and processed foods. This is a great parallel to any toxins be it food or people. Like this week I am focusing on cleansing and today it really extended far beyond just cleaning the office and making a work environment clean. It became evident that we must also consider our personal cleansing and that’s the cleansing of the stressors and the things that take us away from being the best version of ourselves. I think I am beginning to recognise through the challenge just how much pressure I put on myself to perform and also how much pressure I internalise as I am not very open to seeking the support of others when it comes to showing vulnerability. However, if I am to achieve a higher degree of wellness in my mind, body AND spirit it is very important that I focus just as much on my mind as I do my body simply because they are very interrelated. Today I began to look at many of my own internal feelings, behaviour patterns and the amount of stress that I internalise and with an external smile to let the world see that I am okay. When really behind-the-scenes the constant juggling of pressure seems to be greatly impacting my health and also my performance. Delving a little deeper into my body and spirit it is a labyrinth of crisscrossing connections and more so than I ever thought at the beginning of this project. The interconnection between these three areas is incredibly interwoven. The conclusion that I draw from this is that any organisation looking to increase employee wellness by developing an internal program must recognise the importance of this and to understand the vastness of the subject. As people, we are all different and it is crucial to engage the employee population to find out what wellbeing means to them and how they can be best supported on their own journey. There are so many facets to consider and a cookie cutter approach to employee wellbeing is not the answer. I don’t think there is a bowl of fruit or a ping/pong table big enough to quick fix me at the moment. All jokes aside, I never appreciated the depth of this subject as I, like many leaders, have only been looking at it from the surface.

Mantra: Breath and Relax, one step at a time

Day 8: Fruits of our Labour

It is hard to believe that we are already one week in and looking back… it has been a full one. It has been very interesting to put my own wellness under the conscious microscope as in doing this I can clearly see just how unkind I have been to myself in all three areas of mind, body and spirit. I am not 100% sure, which one was the first to fall but I think that it was my spirit. I just seemed to hit a wall in early 2018 and after a series of unforeseen events I see now that I went into survival mode and used most of my energy to just fight fires. It was in this constant state of flux and stress that I forgot to be kind to myself and look after my own mind, body and spirit and with a great deal of humility can say now I was not always OK. I lost balance and allowed the stress of the environment to rule over all three states leaving each somewhat starved of the nutrients that maintain a healthy state of mind. It was strange, as after the office cleansing that lighter energy stayed with me and from the moment I opened my eyes today I knew something small had shifted in me. It was like something had simply let go and it was not just one thing such as cleaning the office – it has been a combination of events, discussions, research and just ‘me’ time that seemed to make a little more sense as a collective than as a series of single events. This perspective was reinforced as I had a PT session with Tom. With residual bla di bla perspective, I was not that motivated beforehand as really had to squeeze it in on a busy day (old excuses) but and I was walking home after it and something seemed to happen in my brain and I felt just a little bit happier. It is really hard to explain but I felt another little shift. If I was to offer any advice or challenge to a busy leader: take charge of one goal or action that you have been meaning to do (make it small and manageable) that will make a change in your physical environment for the better and complete it – then take a moment and feel the feeling and spend time appreciating that you did it! You did not blame time, or meetings or others or or or. You took back some of the control in the world in which you reside.

Mantra: Just do it!

Day 7: Cleaning or Cleansing

In my follow up on my commitment to myself to take back more control over the things that I have the power to do I headed to the office to give it a good de-clutter and clean. It is so important that we consider the physical environment that we work in and the impact that this can have on mind-set and wellbeing. It is great to have an office dog but Buster can sure leave his mark if not maintained regularly. Also, I seem to collect lots of random paper and “I will get to that” piles scattered around all holding various forms of energy. Some pointless, some stressful, some important, some personal, some client focussed, some research, some forgotten about, but all holding my unconscious attention and linked to my energy. So in this one step forward I gave it a deep cleansing and purge and out went the old and the negative. So after four hours and several bags of now forgotten paper and “why do I have this” stuff I sat back and just was… I could seriously feel the difference and the room felt bigger and brighter – if that is possible. It is important if we are going to introduce new and exciting possibilities into our world then we need to clear away the old ‘stuff’ that no longer serves a purpose. Whether this is in the physical realm or in the poor habitual habits that we have formed over time as they all negatively impact on our wellness and mental health. However, it too goes beyond these and into the relationships that we surround ourselves with. When I am working with clients I often talk about the law of attraction in that when we are feeling low we attract and surround ourselves with like-minded people. However we have the same power when we take charge of the positive or more pure energy. You would think that throwing out a pile of old paper would be easier than ending or closing down a toxic relationship. However, when I played the mind video back of the office cleaning I found myself in constant dialogue coming up with all the reason to keep stuff even though I knew it would really not be missed as it served little purpose. Whether it be in stuff, habits or people it is hard to let go of the familiar even when they have a negative consequence to our wellness and mental health. That is why this is a journey and we need to seek the support of others and in their objectivity sits the perspective that we might have lost sight of. So if you plan to clean out your closet – it is best to do it with a trusted friend who says what they mean.

Mantra: The Energy we give is the Energy we receive

Day 6: Time Out or Time On

Today was a chance to just drop out and enjoy some downtime. However, I must say that after the week of better diet and more exercise it was evident today that I had more motivation to get up and out. Being completely honest, over the past several months I have used Saturdays as a hideaway day and shut off from the world. If binging on Netflix was an Olympic sport I was working towards the gold medal at record speed. Now that I am looking at my own wellness through a more conscious lens I can clearly see the link between my mindset, perspective and my energy. This is something that leaders and organisations need to consider when introducing a culture of wellness as it is not just one thing but a combination of factors that once all brought together will start to show early signs of a shift. We can have various ideas of what wellness and mental health means within the workplace however the common thread that must be considered is that it does need to be reviewed in the context of the environment and a more open and transparent dialogue started. I can openly say that many of the stresses of 2018 changed my perspective and as a result, my health suffered – however that is because I allowed it to happen. I cannot control everything in my work world but I forgot that I did have more conscious choices within my power. I also had the support of more people around me – I just need to reach out and say – I am not OK! It took the purpose of the Balance project to start my shift and take the small steps toward taking back more control and just in that I gained more power. So today was spent Buster walking on the common and meeting a friend for a pint and lots of laughs in a dog-friendly pub. Remember this is all about balance and yes a pint is Ok!

MantraLive and Laugh

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