People are the lifeblood of any organisation, community or family, and we all need support. That’s why I believe that R U OK day is one of the most valuable campaigns that Australia has seen come to the fore in the past decade.
The core message of creating a dialogue with those who may be struggling is incredibly important and valuable as it cuts across all demographics in our multi-layered, multi-generational and multi-cultural society.
The clear focus behind R U OK Day, is to encourage us to check in on our mates, our colleagues, our family, our friends and our tribe.
However, I’d like to take a slightly different perspective on this concept and highlight the importance of self-care.
While self-care is vital, the ability to take care of yourself can be diminished due to mental ill-health, or lack of awareness of the connection between mental and physical wellbeing.
Therefore, as a people champion, a business owner and business leader, I believe that the workplace plays a significant role in the support of people’s self-regulation.
Let’s talk about that.
For any positive change to happen, it begins with awareness, knowledge, choices and action.
For individuals to feel empowered to recognise their own struggles and needs, it is important that leaders provide an environment which openly encourages awareness and dialogue around overall wellness, including (but not limited to) mental wellbeing.
Educate, educate, educate.
Whist R U Ok day is aimed at heightening our awareness (and knowledge of) the warning signs exhibited by people who may be struggling, and how to approach them in a supportive and non-judgemental way, as leaders, we need to be ‘practising’ and sharing our knowledge an ideas on self-care. Make it part of the way ‘we operate around here’. Regular, open dialogue about experiences, habits, and ideas can all contribute to people feeling equipped to support themselves.
In order to make a change, we first need to make a choice – and as organisational leaders, we need to provide opportunity to make healthy choices.
At PerformHR, we support our team (with a diverse range of initiatives under our Thrive Program) to make decisions around how to support themselves with their own well-being. For some it is all about feeling empowered to own their work day, for others it is access to professional coaching or counselling, access to health benefits or reimbursement for a new pair of trainers (or a combination). People are, and should be treated as, individuals. Therefore, our role as leader is to equip people to make (and feel empowered to make) great choices that support them.
Idea: “Wellness Wednesdays” – whilst we should be looking after ourselves every day, making a day of the week a core focus on wellness provides an anchor point to support the creation of new, daily habits. At PHR, Wednesday is our day when we encourage each other to make one healthy choice – whether it be a lunch time walk, boosting our intake of water, making a healthier meal choice, or simply taking the time to do something that makes us feel good.
The connection between workplace culture and self-awareness plays a vital role in supporting the concept of wellness. Holistic wellness should involve intrinsic motivators and extrinsic enablers to support each of us to live our best life. It may be dubbed ‘brave’ or ‘friendly’ to ask someone if they are ok, I don’t really care what the label is.
I believe it takes a healthy dose of self-love to ask yourself if you are ok.
That said, sometimes we may shrink away from being our bravest self and questioning our current state of mental wellness.
Personally, I can recall moments in my life where it felt more painful to face the issue and act, than it was to avoid it. However, I have also learnt that this is not sustainable, and does not facilitate physical or mental wellbeing.
Wellness for me is a work in progress – some days I feel like I nail it, others, not so. As a leader, a wife and a mother, I strongly believe that those around me will learn more from what I do rather than what I say. Self-care is not a treat (just like we don’t question if need oxygen). My challenge to you is this: ask yourself – if the people I care about replicate most of what I practice, would that support them to move their own wellness dial in the right direction?