The Great Reevaluation: Unlearning Work Myths About Wellness
The massive shift that’s been happening in the workforce in response to the pandemic is often referred to as the Great Resignation. But according to Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of the behavior change technology company Thrive Global, people aren’t just quitting their jobs. They’re experiencing a “Great Re-evaluation.” She says we need to start having conversations with our employees, colleagues, and leaders about what matters to have a good life. Is the burnout that results from taking on too much part of what makes life good and enjoyable? Likely not.
While employees are evaluating their priorities in work and life, this is also an opportunity for companies to recommit to their employees. It’s a chance to rethink outdated expectations and ways of working and create a truly engaging environment for our people. In Arianna’s session at Forward, Going from Awareness to Action, she shared several strategies to achieve this.
Unlearning productivity myths
There are many unhealthy opinions about productivity, says Arianna. “I had bought into the collective delusion that in order to succeed, I had to always be on. I had to power through exhaustion.”
But the pandemic has been a catalyst for change. It’s given us the chance to unlearn these productivity myths. “Since the first industrial revolution, we have believed something false about the human operating system,” says Arianna. We’ve mistakenly thought humans were the same as machines and could be productive all the time. “For the human operating system, downtime is a feature, not a bug.”
The fact that many organizations now emphasize well-being and resilience is a sign that we’re rethinking the very concept of productivity. We’re beginning to see that stress and burnout aren’t just affecting our mental health, but are also linked to chronic physical conditions, too.
What do we do with these learnings? “Let’s not waste this crisis,” says Arianna. “Let’s come out of it, not just having survived it, but in a better place.” We can achieve this by prioritizing well-being every day. It’s not just about taking an occasional mental health day or vacation, explains Arianna. “It’s recognizing that there are fundamental parts of how we live our life that have to change.” Arianna identifies several ways that you can bring wellness into your everyday life.
6 Microsteps to bring wellness into your everyday life
The Thrive app helps users discover and track Microsteps, small science-backed steps they can take to improve their well-being across six areas. You might not do everything perfectly every day, but practicing Microsteps can help you bring a new perspective and sense of wellness into your everyday life.
Getting enough sleep is foundational to every aspect of our well-being, including our immunity and our capacity to learn. “Even AI machines get put to sleep to learn better and faster,” says Arianna. It’s also crucial to give yourself breaks throughout the day. This can be as simple as using Thrive Reset, available in Zoom and Webex, to take a few minutes between virtual meetings to breathe and remember what you’re grateful for. Based on neuroscience research, this practice of resetting tells us it takes 60 to 90 seconds to course correct from stress.
Because food fuels your day, consuming the right kind of fuel is key to how you feel each day. Healthy eating habits Arianna recommends reducing sugar and processed foods and avoiding eating right before sleeping.
Arianna stresses that movement doesn’t need to be spending an hour in the gym every day. It’s about integrating more movement into your everyday habits, like taking a walking meeting instead of sitting at your desk.
“We are all addicted to our phones,” says Arianna. She recommends limiting phone notifications, which can disrupt your focus, and even putting your phone to bed at the end of the workday so it doesn’t interfere with your family or personal time, or your sleep.
For many of us, money is the #1 source of stress and anxiety. But by taking Microsteps, Arianna says we can reduce our financial stress and improve our overall well-being because the two are connected. One Microstep she recommends is taking a few minutes at the end of the day to track what you bought that day in your journal or financial tracking app.
Our workplaces are communities, whether onsite, remote, or hybrid. And our communities are a place where we can get the support and inspiration we need to grow. Interact with your community and encourage them to try wellness practices as well. It’s especially powerful when we see how our leaders and peers commit to these Microsteps because then it becomes a joint journey.
Everyone wins when you commit to employee well-being
The pandemic has been a powerful lesson in contending with uncertainty. And this isn’t easy. “Uncertainty breeds anxiety,” says Arianna. Luckily we have lots of tools and techniques to deal with that anxiety.
As employees contend with the Great Reevaluation, companies face a critical choice. They can emphasize employee well-being and resilience — or they can watch their employees choose to work somewhere that does. When you commit to your employees’ well-being, you’re setting them up for success. They’ll be in a much better place to receive information and do their best work. “It’s much easier to learn when we’re recharged,” says Arianna.
Want to hear from Arianna directly? Watch the on-demand video of her presentation here.