At a recent conference held by the Leadership Board, for HR Directors and HR professionals, the most pressing issue identified by the majority of attendees was well-being. In several discussion groups I attended, HR directors admitted to being concerned at the quality of health and balance being displayed by their senior staff. More people unwell, taking leave for stress, more taking up EAP; whilst others admitted to having to deal with behaviours evidencing stress, conflicts and bad communications.

Whilst the discussions were around what they could do – I’m aware of several professional services firms where the Partner Conference next year will be on the subject of Well-Being, or how to improve well-being – whilst some things can be done by the organisation, there are many things that each person can do to improve their situation. So in this article I’d like to focus on the self-responsibility that each person can take on ensuring that they stay balanced, healthy and well.

  1. Make your well-being 100% your personal responsibility

Given half a chance, many people will find someone or something else to blame for not feeling good, ignoring their part in it – whether it’s not eating healthily, smoking, staying up late, playing on the phone, watching TV, computer or tablet – then waking up feeling tired.

Well-being starts with attending to the basics. Eating well, in a timely manner – not after 8.00 if possible; not smoking; ensuring that you give yourself time to wind down from work; not working on your computer or phone after a designated time so you have time to let your mind quieten before you get to bed.

Many people, especially who have grown up with the smart-phone and lap-tops have never instituted boundaries on using such technology and underestimate their impact on the brain’s ability to process the volume of information coming into it. Hence, they can spend several hours lying in bed in the dark whilst their mind buzzes, processing the data, but not giving them the peace of mind to rest and sleep.

Step One for re-instituting well-being is taking responsibility for yourself and looking at all the elements of your life where you are, perhaps unthinkingly, introducing toxicity into your body, your mind and emotions.  Then stop doing so.

  1. Take control of your thoughts

People are not aware how much their sense of well-being comes from what they think. But as a coach, I observe people’s thinking all the time and it is phenomenal how much changes of thought changes people’s sense of reality.

A course in Miracles says: “Reality is safe and sure, and wholly kind to everyone and everything.” And in my experience this is true. Yet our daily news infiltrates disasters and negative events into our thinking and makes many of us, by habit, negative thinkers. So one’s mind becomes a battlefield of conflict as expectations of doom, disasters and bad outcomes battle the sane and sure of positive outcomes.

Last week, I had a long journey to make to another city for a business appointment and as soon as I sat down in my car, an old, familiar song started playing in my head:

Traffic’s gonna be bad.  
I’m going to be late.
It’ll be hard to find parking in the area where I need to get to in town. 

I noticed my thoughts and quickly switched to a positive station, but the moment I hit heavy traffic the old tune started playing again.

It takes such vigilance to watch our thoughts, to notice when we’re thinking from past, negative experiences (which is much of the time), and then do what’s necessary to send the mind in a new, supportive direction.

But this practice is fundamental to living a good life.

It all starts with a simple formula:  First, notice your thoughts.  Next, pull yourself out of the past and into the present moment.  Third, shift your thinking to the experience you’d like to have.  And finally, continue to apply positive thoughts and expectations as your new neural program.

You and only you are responsible for what you think. Think what you would like to think rather than let others thinking determine your life for you.

  1. Make time for you alone

I’ve stolen Martha Beck’s recommendation from her book ‘The Joy Diet’ of taking a minimum of 10 minutes for yourself every day to do nothing and suggest it to all my clients. She recommends that we sit somewhere we can relax, a garden, a sitting room, a quiet room where things cannot intrude upon your consciousness and do nothing. Thinking is not required, feeling is not required, even deep breathing is not suggested. It is purely to be yourself, relaxed and return to your deeper self.

We are all overwhelmed with the number of things we have to do, the information we have to process and the number of connections we have to keep alive and well. It may therefore not be an accident that we feel out of control and not well. This is not a suggestion to create loneliness, which is associated with conditions like anxiety and depression, but this time alone offers a redress to feeling you’re at the beck and call of everyone and everything else.

This time of doing nothing offers all kinds of benefits. Carving out time for yourself can help you feel you’re taking back control of your time. It helps you regulate your emotional balances, reduces burnout and boosts your creativity. Making that 10 -15 minutes quiet time where you do nothing, think nothing and be nothing in particular, will re-connect you to your own internal self, from where personal well-being comes. That time alone builds up inner resources, sense of balance, self-care and afterwards allows you to give more of yourself to what you choose to do, thereby improving your relationships with others.


Penny Sophocleous

4th November 2019