Many employers, in an attempt to build a more harmonious work culture, encourage employees to socialize outside of normal working hours. However, such encouragement from employers can create an internal conflict for those employees that are unable to join such social gatherings due to other commitments outside of the workplace. It can also create a perceived sense of preferential treatment for those that do attend such gatherings versus those that don’t – or can’t – participate.
Employers would better serve their employees by supporting such things as flexible work hours, encouraging workers to go home after an 8 hour day in the office, requiring workers to take regular breaks and vacations, creating spaces in the office where workers can go for a few minutes of peace and quiet throughout the day, like a meditation room, a garden and/or a walking path, and offering regular group exercise opportunities during work hours, such as yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong classes.
Until all employers buy into the research that indicates such things enchance a worker’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being, boosting productivity, focus, memory, and creativity, below are intention-setting ideas for you to implement for yourself, to remind yourself every day that you are so much MORE than what you do and avoid burning the candle at both ends:
- Walking meetings. If you find yourself either needing to schedule a meeting with a colleague or are invited to one, ask your colleague if they would mind making the meeting a walking meeting. Take the walk outside and, if possible, into an area that has some greenery, like trees or flowers, or near water, such as a lake or water fountain. Perhaps you can locate a bench outside that you can stop at and sit for part of the meeting. Even if you are able to make one meeting a week a walking meeting to start, before long this idea might catch on as others begin to feel the difference it makes in their day!
- Take multiple short breaks. Consider taking a one-minute break every hour. You can set an alarm on your phone or a reminder in your calendar. Some ideas for each one-minute break include: closing your eyes and taking several, long deep breaths while visualizing something that brings you joy; bringing in a jump rope and/or hula hoop and using it for one minute; doing some seated yoga poses at your desk; and/or listening to a guided meditation.
- Ask a co-worker for support. If you find the support of another as motivation to hold you accountable, ask a co-worker to start an at-work health challenge with you. It could be around the number of steps you take at work (think taking the stairs instead of the elevator) or the amount of time you hold a challenging shape, such as wall squats, plank or balancing on one leg. It might also be eating more healthy, such as getting points for eating fresh fruit or a salad instead of a taco or hamburger. If stress is an issue, maybe consider keeping track of the number of meditations you participate in (by taking those one-minute breaks every hour!). Don’t forget to set a goal, perhaps the ‘winner’ at the end of the month treats the ‘other winner’ to lunch.
- Start a gratitude circle. I know when I worked in the corporate world, it was very easy to get caught in the experience of complaining about work to my co-workers, whether it was about other co-workers not pulling their weight, the unrealistic work expectations, and/or the lack of communication. Although at first it might have brought some temporary relief, such complaining did not change anything. Therefore, consider turning complaining on its head the next time you find yourself looking for a co-worker to vent with by challenging yourself to identify something that you are grateful for from your experience at work and sharing it with another. Better yet, start a gratitude circle with several co-workers, scheduling a 5 minute gathering at some point in the day where everyone gets to share what they felt gratitude for that day (limiting the time to 1 minute or less for the sharing).
- Play music. No, not your favorite dance music or rock or rap album. Find some music without lyrics that you might enjoy and make sure to play it at an ambient noise level to avoid disturbing your co-workers. It might be jazz or classical or it could be nature sounds, like the ocean or the sounds of the forest. Research has shown music to improve mood, which impacts productivity and creativity