Wellbeing@work – how to re-energize and build resilience

Top tips to thrive in the new world of work

Technology has given us the flexibility to work anywhere and anytime, but it doesn’t mean you should be “on” all the time. We lead very busy work lives; we zoom from meeting to meeting, spend hours behind our computer screen, and opt for a working lunch to make the most of our available time – every working hour is planned and accounted for. Particularly during the pandemic, we have become busier than ever before, adding former commuting time to our working hours, and as a result work-related stress has become a major concern.

Employees everywhere have operated remotely for more than one year, ever since Covid-19 restrictions were established. Kudos for everyone to keep businesses and organizations running and productivity up! However, while business efficiency improved, wellbeing is suffering. According to the latest research by KPMG a staggering 94% of workers are stressed: 78% believe the coronavirus pandemic has severely affected their mental health; 40% are making more flawed decisions, and 90% conclude that newfound work-related stress affects their home lives.

Wellbeing as a driver for sustainable success

The importance of putting wellbeing on the business agenda is crucial to ensure successful business operations now and in the future. The benefits of taking care of employees and creating a great place to thrive instead of grind, will outweigh the cost of doing so. Research suggests companies who put wellbeing at the heart of their business strategy improve employee loyalty, retain and attract top talent, increase collaboration and productivity and drive innovation more successfully.

While many organizations were already experimenting with wellness programs and other initiatives, there is now a clear move toward a more holistic wellbeing approach that fosters human connection and caring.

While many organizations were already experimenting with wellness programs and other initiatives, there is now a clear move toward a more holistic wellbeing approach that fosters human connection and caring.

It is not just a task of the employer to ensure mental and physical wellbeing of their employees. You can take charge of your personal wellbeing as well to thrive both personally and at work. Here are a few tips on how to keep energy levels up and build resilience to manage stress and embrace change:

  • Take time off . Even in times of stress and uncertainty it is important to take time off to recover and recharge. This may seem odd when going on a holiday abroad is still challenging, but even a few days to relax can help to re-energize. Read that book that has been on your reading list for months, go for a long walk in the country side or take a forest bath to de-stress and unwind. Even in the navy, after particularly stressful periods, captains navigate ships to calm waters for sailors to rest.
  • "Niksen" - Do nothing to do more. Alan Lightman, professor of human sciences at MIT, suggests we should come to a grinding halt a few times a day and do nothing. We need the time to contemplate and reflect. According to Lightman, it is important to waste time again, spend time without a goal, where you try not to achieve anything. A dinner with friends, a walk in the woods, or even blankly staring into the distance. In Lightman’s book, In Praise of Wasting Time, he talks about the dangers of being busy and continuing to live as mechanically as we do now. People are exhibiting almost robotic behavior as we hardly have time to think, to fantasize and be creative. Yet we know that the best ideas usually come at the strangest of places or times; in the shower, taking a walk, cycling home, and so on.Our work culture does not promote sitting still, and that can have wide-reaching consequences for our mental health, well-being, productivity, and other areas of our lives. Technology doesn’t make it any easier: The smartphone you carry with you at all hours makes it almost impossible to truly unplug and embrace idleness. And by keeping ourselves busy at all times, we may be losing our ability to sit still because our brains are actually being rewired. The way out of of this is doing nothing. Or, as the Dutch call it, niksen. The idea of niksen is to take conscious, considered time and energy to do activities like gazing out of a window or sitting motionless. When you’re most productive and creative, notice when your mind starts to shut off or you start performing tasks just for the sake of doing them. That’s the moment when you should take a break and start “Niksen”.
  • Prioritize. Now is the time to tackle the “cult of busy” by focussing on the work that matters most. You can start prioritizing by declining all meetings where you feel you can’t add value. Shorten calls, block time for deep work and pursue short-term, more achievable goals.
  • Let go and step outside. In the office or at home, problems or dark thoughts can sometimes creep up on you. You can simply step away from them by going outside. Take some deep breaths, enjoy the fresh air and go for a walk to loosen up those tense muscles. Look around with fresh eyes, take in the beauty of the landscape, notice the details, and let yourself get inspired by nature. This will increase your levels of serotonin and elevate your mood. As a bonus you may find the answer to the problem that was nagging you!
  • Be thankful and show appreciation. Gratitude can help you focus on the positive aspects of your life. Remind yourself daily of three things to be thankful for – your family, a sunny day or supportive friends. Send a thank you note to someone you care about or get involved in a good cause. Even small acts of kindness such as getting a coffee for your colleague or helping your elderly neighbour can make all the difference. You’ll feel much happier for it.
  • Sing your heart out. Singing and dancing can be an instant, positive mood booster. Singing out loud to your favourite tune in the car, or dancing to music in your living room or on a night out, naturally lifts our spirits.
  • Smile and laugh out loud. Laughter is the best medicine – it relieves tension and stress and is the best mood booster around. Laughter makes you feel happy and is also very contagious! Nothing to smile about? Try a fake smile. Our brains are hardwired to associate the activation of the face’s “smile muscles” with actual happiness. So when you turn up the corners of your mouth your brain physiology will change and you’ll automatically feel happier.

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About Marianne Hewlett
Senior Vice President and member of the Scientific Community
Marianne Hewlett is a Senior Vice President at Atos and a seasoned marketeer and communications expert. Passionate about connecting people, technology and business, she is a member of the Atos Scientific Community where she explores the Future of Work and the impact of technology on individuals, organizations and society. She is a strong ambassador for diversity and inclusivity – and particularly encourages female talent to pursue a career in IT – as she believes a diverse and happy workforce is a key driver for business success. As an ambassador for the company’s global transformation program Wellbeing@work, she explores new technologies and ways of working that address the needs of current and future generations of employees. A storyteller at heart, she writes about the human side of business and technology and posts include insights into the future of work, the science of happiness, and how wellbeing and diversity can drive success.

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