Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wellness While You Work

Real Wellness goes beyond weekends

Fletcher, VT - October 2009 - photograph by Meredith Crowley

For me, the dire need for personal "real wellness" came to a head during fall semester of graduate school. I thought I needed to spend every waking second getting something done for school or work - reading, writing, workshops, etc. I figured I needed to prioritize school above exercise, and very rarely made time for my own well-being.

As a result, it was hard to gain perspective... mainly, about what I (really) wanted to get out of my time at Harvard. So as you know, this semester I joined the gym, I'm training for a 1/2 marathon, I practice yoga regularly, and I feel much more centered and focused. I am a big believer in "work smarter, not harder". Taking breaks out of my day to do these things leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to go!

So as you can imagine, I am loving the mindfulness exercise my Teaching Fellow guides our Leading & Managing Organizations class through each week. I think it's crucial to remember that leading and managing requires us to face frequent challenges, and leaders do no one any favors by pushing themselves beyond normal limits. There are so many SIMPLE things you can do throughout your work day to keep yourself refreshed and in perspective:

1. Take a hike! Even just 10 minutes away from your desk and OUT of your building does wonders. I've come up with some of my best ideas when not thinking about projects.

2. Be Left Aloooone. Unless you need to be at the beck & call of some hotshot via hotmail, turn that little envelope guy on the right corner of your 'puter screen OFF. Too distracting. I don't even need to explain why. Instead, carve out specific times to check and respond to emails throughout the day. This also ensures no emails are read on your blackberry and then promptly forgotten once you check your inbox online. You've all done it.

3. Eat. Please. Really. I'm one of those people that "forgets" to eat lunch, and by 3pm I'm a complete crank-face: ie, massive headache and a hankerin' for something with salt and grease. Gross. Make yourself leave your desk to eat your lunch at a normal pace. Better yet, pack healthy snacks (homemade pita chips, veggies, hummus) to avoid the vending machine temptations.
3a. DRINK WATER. Just do it.

4. Have a Life. In The practice of adaptive leadership:
Tools and tactics for changing your organization and the world
, Weick & Sutcliffe recommend surrounding yourself with communities of care beyond the work setting. Join a book club, make times for friends & family, start a hobby or set a personal goal (yay 1/2 marathons!). You'll feel well-rounded, and you'll be less likely to take professional setbacks personally.

(Above excerpted/adapted from my post to the "Mindfulness - Meditation" Forum for Jerry Murphy's Leading & Managing Organizations class)

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