Did you know that stress and burnout are on the rise? Of course you know that. Who doesn't?
After a year of living through a world turned upside down - pandemic, financial distress, societal reckoning with systemic racism, and political divisions - we are all feeling stressed and burned out. And, we all know it.
Consider some recent stats, uncovered in a recent survey conducted by Jennifer Moss, author of forthcoming book "The Burnout Epidemic," Christina Maslach of the University of California, Berkeley, Susan E. Jackson of Rutgers, and Michael Leiter of Deakin University:
So, who's the biggest culprit when it comes to our failure to adequately address this rising epidemic?
"Nothing happens until something moves."
- Albert Einstein
If ever there’s a time that we need to move, it’s now. It’s one of the best things we can do for our health and our state of being. Period. It is one of THE best coping mechanisms we have.
THE KEY IS MORE “NEAT”
The real question is less about exercise – and more about simply infusing more motion, aka “NEAT,” into our daily lives. As described by researcher James Levine, “EAT,” or exercise activity thermogenesis refers to any kind of intentional workout – going out for a run, going to the gym, going for a swim. “NEAT,” or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, refers to any kind of incidental movement throughout our day – running errands, doing household chores, or getting up from our desk. It’s the NEAT levels we should be focused on the most. We just need to simply move more – and sit less – throughout the day, especially throughout our workday.
So, what can you do so that you can move more at work?
Here are ways that you and your team - even if you're virtually connected - can get in motion.
"There isn’t any other factor in medicine – not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery – that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes than loneliness and isolation."
—Dean Ornish, MD
Social wellbeing is vital to all of us – especially now. The effects of social disconnections - or loneliness - are devastating. One study found that loneliness is as detrimental to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Meanwhile, trends indicate that rates of loneliness have doubled over the past 40 years, only to be accelerated by the pandemic.
So, what can we do about it? Here are three things you can do:
1. Love is all you need: Remember, that your social wellbeing matters as much - if not more - than your physical wellbeing. Just as you may be tracking your steps (hopefully getting at least 10,000 a day), can you track your time that you’re connected with others? Research shows that the minimum we all need to be socially well is at least 6 hours a day. And, while in person is best, virtually counts as well.
While leveraging the workplace to promote better health and wellbeing is a really good idea, most of the workplace wellness programs I’ve seen are woefully inadequate. We don’t have to look any further than the trends we see to know that what we’re doing isn’t working. Rates of depression across the US have tripled since June of 2020, obesity rates continue to climb, loneliness levels are higher than ever and hitting young people the hardest, life expectancy is going down and rates of burnout are at record highs.
Meanwhile, companies continue to churn out wellness programs to little avail. So, what are the problems with workplace wellness – and what can we do differently?
Here are the top three problems I’m seeing:
1. We’re using individual solutions to solve organizational problems. Take burnout. The top five sources of employee burnout are rooted in the workplace itself – and have nothing to do with the individual employee. Specifically, the top 5 drivers of employee burnout identified by a Gallup study that surveyed 7500 employees include the following:
I often ask audience members to consider what ME AT MY BEST® looks like for them.
I offer inspiring stories to get them thinking. Like Klaus Obermeyer, former Olympic skier, who celebrated his 80th birthday by clocking in at 80 miles an hour and now, at the age of 101 is still skiing! I also offer what ME AT MY BEST® looks like for me. As shown above, one of the ways that I manifest ME AT MY BEST® is when I'm doing a handstand! (In celebration of my earlier life as a competitive gymnast.)
ME AT MY BEST® can also be the simpler things in life - like when we are fully present with our partner, solve a challenging problem or have a flash of creative insight. Or, perhaps when we manifest the words of Maya Angelou: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to fully thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” This is what life is really about, isn’t it?
Being and becoming our best, however we each define that.
What are strategies you can use to become your version of ME AT MY BEST®? Here are three ideas to get you started.
I’ll never forget the time that I reached into my mailbox and pulled out a form with big red letters across it: DENIED WITHOUT PAYMENT.
At the time, I was a teacher at a charter high school in San Francisco. Following a routine eye exam, I needed to schedule a scary follow-up appointment with a specialized institute to assess whether or not I was at risk of going blind. The catch was that the latest appointment I could book was at 1 pm, meaning I was going to have to miss some school. I thought through this hard. How could I take care of my health and at the same time make sure that my students wouldn’t be left behind? Yes, there was always the option of calling in sick and getting a sub, but everyone knows that sub equals no work. Plus, a sub equals more money spent, which my underfunded school could ill afford. Therefore, the best plan, I deduced, would be to make the appointment on a Wednesday afternoon, the day that students were dismissed at noon to allow for professional development time for faculty and staff.
Appointment set, I submitted the requisite form requesting time off (a formality, or so I thought), and then didn’t think much of it.
Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash.
Every week, I receive inquiries from people asking me about how to become a paid speaker. They note that they are “passionate” about speaking. Often, they’ve gotten their feet wet with a few engagements – enough to “catch the bug.” Now, they want more – a lot more.
“I’m just starting out,” they tell me, “and I really like it. How can I do more of it?” They often note, “Your work sounds interesting. Can you share how you got started?” What I observe as I unspool all of the threads that have led to where I am now, is that I can literally “see” their eyes glazing over.
The truth is that becoming and sustaining work as a paid speaker is hard work. Period. On top of that, there is no sure path to becoming one, especially a highly sought-after and well-paid one.
That said, here are some things that I’ve learned along the way as I have steadily built up a speaking career over time:
In 2008, I launched Motion Infusion. Since that time, I've had many people reach out to me asking me how to get started.
Here are my top 7 insider tips to launch your workplace wellness business.
1. Go deep. What makes you uniquely qualified to make a dent on lifestyle-driven healthcare crisis, leveraging the workplace? What kinds of stories can you offer? What are unlikely skills and perspectives that you bring, that no one else does? What's your secret sauce? For me, it's my teaching background that has served as the foundation for my unique angle within the field.
2. Get multiple perspectives. The more you can learn from others, the better - both in terms of content but more importantly, in terms of helping you to shape what you are going to actually offer. Here are a couple of good ones coming up:
In her classic hit, Tina Turner asked: “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” Similarly, you might hear your leaders asking: “What’s Health & Well-Being Got to Do with Safety?”
In case, we forgot, it’s called the “Health and Safety Act” not the “Health or Safety Act.” Or, as my friend and respected colleague Wes Alles, director of the Health Improvement Program at Stanford University noted: “Whether we are talking about safety versus disease, it is the same lifestyle, the same risk factors at work.”
Got a talk coming up? In the era of TED Talks, the ability to deliver presentations with a punch is something that many of us are after.
Having just returned from the awesome WELCOA Summit, I am feeling especially inspired. I was lucky enough to be part of the speaker lineup, alongside thought leaders like John Perkins, Ryan Picarella, Vic Strecher, Andrew Sykes, MJ Shaar, Brian Passon, Rosie Ward, Paul Scialla, Barbara Zabawa, Mitch Martens and many more.