Improving workplace mentality with a more holistic approach

By: Anna Letitia Cook

Holistic Wellness

Holistic – Some people are confused about this word and think it means alternative medicine or eccentric hippie gobbledegook. In fact, the meaning of ‘holistic’ is very simple, it signifies whole, all-encompassing.

The dictionary definition is: "relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts… dealing with or treating the whole of something or someone and not just a part".

So, a holistic approach is taking care of something totally in all aspects. For example, living a holistic lifestyle would be giving equal importance (and understanding) to all aspects of our life and way of living, covering everything that enable us to live happily and healthily.

This could include the prioritisation and balance we achieve for physical, mental and emotional health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, fun, relationships, interaction and time spent with others, our sense of purpose and accomplishment in both life and career, positive attitude, energy and creativity, sense of flow and enjoyment in what we do… The list can be as long and as short as you personally need to live your best holistic lifestyle for you!

Moving on to making our workplace mentality more holistic

First of all, why is it so important? 

Because when we have balance at work, particularly holistic balance, things become easier, more positive, less pressured and healthier, happier, more energising and less draining! Very good reasons for making workplace mentality more holistic in my opinion. You only need to look at how many people are suffering from stress, anxiety or illness, as well as the statistics regarding workplace absenteeism and the causes, to see how true this is.

What are some simple steps we and/or the company can take?

  • Focus on accomplishments instead of tasks – We all have a ‘to do’ list and frequently it seems ‘challenging’ to say the least. However, just a simple mindset change can help. Don’t think of how long your list is or what you still have to do, start thinking about what you have just accomplished and how pleased you are to have finished that and done it well. This mindset change is good for our mental health, also reducing stress and increasing our positivity focus.

  • Foster happiness and sense of purpose – This is something that can be done at all levels, from the corporate attitude and ethos through to every person working at the company. Look for the happiness angle of everything you do. Actively try to make those you work with happier. Help everyone (including yourself) understand and appreciate your sense of purpose and the good you are doing. None of us know what our colleagues may be struggling with and this happiness/purpose orientation can make all the difference to how we live through our day. It also makes us more efficient and productive so maybe could even help towards going home early ????

  • Make work meaningful – This is linked in some ways to a sense of purpose. If work has meaning, it can also contribute to our own sense of purpose. Think about why your work is meaningful. What is the big picture that it is contributing to? What also are the little benefits that occur because of it? Every job, no matter how mundane has meaning and does good somewhere for someone. What is yours?

  • Be flexible – Cultivate an attitude and instinctive reaction of flexibility whenever possible. Is there really any life-threatening reason for being so rigid? In fact, flexibility helps change, and change helps creativity. So, next time you are minded to be stubborn, surprise yourself, go for flexible and ENJOY the experience.

  • Embrace innovation, creativity and thinking/acting out of the box – Being creative has a positive effect on us emotionally and psychologically. Thinking differently, coming up with ideas that are different, new or unusual make things more interesting and often more productive. The very response of acting or thinking creatively sparks our energy and flow. It has a positive impact on us and makes us feel more alive. Companies that really support positive mindset and happiness among their employees often set aside ‘creative thinking’ times specifically for everyone to spend some time thinking outside the box and generating new visions and new ideas for ways of doing things. You should try it ????

  • Encourage breaks – This is a key energising action. Having a break, especially if it is an active (i.e. going for a walk or doing some stretching) break destresses us and generates more energy and positive thinking. Sometimes this is all that is needed both to put a smile on our face and to miraculously find the solution to that pesky problem that has been bugging us. Aim to have a 5-minute break every hour or so, or 15+ minutes every couple of hours… Make sure you move around, don’t just laze in your chair or stuff your face with unhealthy crisps, biscuits or sweets.

  • Provide healthy snacks twice a day, taking them round and saying something friendly and uplifting to people while giving them out – Now this is a great corporate attitude which is gaining in popularity among the more holistic and health minded companies. Providing healthy snacks like pieces of fruit, fruit salad, nuts, healthy (not sugary) cereal bars, smoothies and the like - free of charge - and actively having someone take them round offering them to all the employees twice a day. AND, with the person taking them round having a big, cheery, happy smile and pleasant, happy word to say to everyone while they do so. So much better than unhealthy sugar or fat-filled snacks and caffeine with a grumpy mindset!

  • Introduce exercise in the workplace (and walking in the park) – Not only is exercise a great stress reducer but also it contributes to feeling better about yourself, physically being fitter and having less aches and pains, and having a higher feeling of work/life balance satisfaction. Whether a company offers a discounted gym membership, encourages walking meetings, creates a walking or running group, provides treadmill desks or allocates meditation rooms, all are good. All will help you and make you feel better, happier and energised. If your company isn’t already doing this, start suggesting they think about it… (Contact me if you would like more ideas and how to best present them to the bosses or HR Dept).

  • Corporate Wellness apps for the workforce - Explore some of the great apps available for corporate wellness like Smart Break, where you take a 'Smart Break' for 3 minutes twice a day - Not only does it give you an ultra-healthy physical break, but also gives you a mental break (so reducing stress), a creative boost and promotes team spirit!

  • Holistic mentoring – This is one of the more innovative ideas that are bearing fruit. Holistic mentoring is a truly great way of helping employees feel better, happier and healthier in all aspects of their life, professional as well as personal. Whether it is introduced by the employees themselves to help and support their colleagues or whether it is officially introduced by the company, if you get a chance to participate, jump at it. You will reap the benefits.

  • Positivity and happiness training for managers and colleagues who tend to have a negative, pessimistic or critical approach to their work and colleagues – This can be a more delicate program to introduce as no one likes being told they are considered to be negative, pessimistic or overly critical by their colleagues or their bosses. However, it can bring about great change for the better, not just in the person receiving the training but also in those who work with them. If you are offered this, don’t take offence, you may be under more stress than you realise and this could really help. Accept and be grateful that you have the opportunity to change some things and ultimately enjoy a better working and home life. From the other viewpoint, If you have colleagues or bosses who you think really need this, maybe you could start by finding a friendly decision maker in your organisation and introduce this as a productive and creative idea that could benefit the whole company. If you approach this with tact and as a supportive concept for everyone, you could be creating the start a very much appreciated step forward for all.

Article contributed by Anna Letitia Cook

Creator of 'SCOPE for Career Fulfilment and Success'.
Mrs Chatty on 'Beyond the Bottomline' and
'WomenUP' TV & Radio.
Owner of far too many yoga mats.


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