A Whole Person Approach to Resilience and Wellbeing

With an ever-growing to-do list and a world that seems intent on creating more uncertainty than certainty, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, overstretched or under-valued. Or worse still, to feel like you’re clinging on to the cliff edge of burnout, wondering if one more day might see you slipping into ill-health.

In these trying times, resilience is a term thrown about like confetti. Buzzwords come and go but resilience is certainly one aspect in maintaining health through these volatile, uncertain, complex times.

Myth 1: When there’s more to do, we need more time.

Here’s the problem with this: time is finite. We cannot create any more hours in a week. So we’re limited already by what we can achieve if we consider time our only resource to get more work done.

Myth 2: When there’s more uncertainty, we need to seek out more control.

As Bryce Taylor, co-founder of Oasis, said: ‘The speed and radical nature of change now acting upon us makes knowledge and know-how lose its value quickly, so an aware sense of the ability to learn and to make learning a continuous activity becomes as important as the content learnt.’

The more we control, the more we lose sight of our abilities to adapt, to compromise, to go with the flow. The tenser we become, the more stubborn we appear. Opportunities to create something easier fall by the wayside as our tunnel vision sees only one way forward.

Myth 3: Mental First Aid Training is the panacea for wellbeing at work.

Mental Health Awareness is absolutely crucial in our workplaces. However – and it’s a big however – it is only one aspect of wellbeing. And if your organisation thinks adding mental health first aid to your weekly subsidised yoga class and a fruit box is enough to create a great place to work, it is sadly mistaken.

Human beings are whole person beings; they have physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and creative needs. You ignore any of these elements at your peril.

In our experience companies that take a Whole Person approach to creating great places to work experience stronger performance, realise lower staff turnover rates and fundamentally have happier working environments.

So if time is finite, control kills creativity and yoga and a fruit box isn’t enough, where do you start to implement a Whole Person approach to wellbeing?

Firstly, we must start to think of energy as our main resource (rather than time). Energy is not finite; unlike time, it’s unlimited. Once we understand how our bodies work to produce energy, we’re better able to get more out of our working day (regardless of the hours we work).

Physical energy

Our physical energy is about the amount of energy we can create. Four things impact this; sleep, diet, exercise and rest. Rest is often the most overlooked aspect of physical energy. As a society we’re conditioned to think of it as lazy or inefficient, but lack of rest is one of the biggest killers in our society.

  • Rest regularly. We need to relearn how to rest. Meditation, naps or simply sitting still in a park, are all good ways to cultivate more rest and don’t take a lot of time.

Emotional energy

Once we’ve learnt how to top up our tank and keep it full, we need to think about the quality of the energy. How we feel in any given moment can either enhance our energy or deplete it. Considering our emotional energy requires us to consider how we feel and the quality of the relationships we have to cultivate. An organisation that is not investing in good manager development will find themselves struggling to produce a motivated and inspired team.

  • What awareness do you have about what motivates you at work and what depletes your mood? How well do you communicate with someone who can help?

Mental energy

So now we have good quantity of energy and we’re cultivating a better quality. So what do we do with all that energy? We need to learn to focus it, through our mental energy. In this 24/7 switched-on world, we have lost the art of doing deep concentrated work. The key to mental focus is how we manage distractions and our environment.

  • Make sure you have places you can work that support you to do deep focused work (quiet spaces, working from home, private rooms).

Spiritual energy

Spiritual energy is fundamentally about our sense of belonging, whether we feel we have purpose and are valued in our work.

  • Does your company have a vision that lights up hearts as well as minds or does it pay lip service to having a vision?
  • Do you know what your personal values are and does your work enable you to honour them?

Creative energy

Creative energy, the final life force of a Whole Person approach to resilience and wellbeing, is perhaps the most precious. In order to grow or evolve, we have to be willing to try new things, to chose the path not yet known, to accept there may be no right or wrong way.

Cultivating a growth mindset allows us to stay open to new ways of doing things, which in turn allows us to cultivate curiosity, resilience and adaptability. It enables us to look big change in the face, and say, it’s fine, we’ve got this. We can be in the flow of life rather than trying to control or lock it down.

Of course, life is sweeter when we come together in community and a Whole Person approach is about considering not just the self, but the ‘we’ and the ‘all of us’.

Our energy is heavily affected by quality of interactions we have with others and the systems and world we find ourselves in.

This is not a solo journey, it requires the whole organisation or system to get united behind this approach if it’s truly going to give you the results it’s capable of. Small changes, that make a big difference.

Jennifer Potter

Associate

Highly experienced coach, consultant, and wellness expert offering an integrated approach to wellbeing at work

Jennifer Potter