Service: Management and leadership 

Topic: Mental wellbeing 

It’s OK to prioritise your mental wellbeing

By Howard Woolf

31 Mar 2021

Gerald Edelman is committed to improving and raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing. Our aim is to create an inclusive environment where our team feels they can be their true self at work and are supported throughout their GE journey.

As part of this commitment we have teamed up with WorkLifeWell. An Academy that provides live and on-demand classes and workshops, from mindfulness meditation, yoga and pilates to cardio/strength training. They also host live masterclasses each month on key issues, such as managing stress, nutrition and mindfulness to ensure our team is fully supported, especially when working from home.

But, our partnership with WorkLifeWell goes beyond having access to the platform. Their monthly catch ups give me a ‘back to earth’ moment, where I spend one hour completely focused on my wellbeing, listening to their techniques on managing stress, nutrition and mindfulness and how I can incorporate them into my every day. 

I’m not going to lie, when the academy was introduced, I thought it was a great idea but for me personally, I wasn’t sure how I was going to find the time to attend these classes and was skeptical of how beneficial the membership would be for me. In the past, I have always intended to take time out during the day to walk, do an exercise class or simply take a break from work. However, as with all good intentions, I rarely prioritised this time and client work or team matters always took over.

At the beginning of the year, I realised that the only person stopping me focusing on myself and my own wellbeing was me. I was always going to find more pressing matters to attend to. I found with the academy, the fact that the classes were only 30 minutes and could be attended on demand meant that I had no excuses.

Lead by example

I’ve now worked through in excess of 40 classes, a combination of strength training, yoga and mindfulness classes. For me, the best way to ensure I attend these sessions is to focus on my health every morning before I hit my screens. It’s so important to respect and commit to this time and not feel compelled to replace it with phone calls or other work. 

At the beginning I struggled to get into a routine and for the first few sessions I attended, especially the mindfulness classes. I was very cynical. I didn’t believe anyone could be that calm and struggled to switch off and focus. But, after sticking with it; several sessions in, I have noticed that I am switching off for longer. I’ve still got some way to go, but it’s a start. From seeing this progress, I strongly believe that in the same way we train to get physically fitter or more skilled at something, we need to train the mind regularly to feel the health benefits.

The classes have also enabled me to try new things. You won’t catch me at an on-site yoga class, given how completely useless I am at it. However, the challenge has been genuinely fun (at my expense), something different, helping break up the monotony of a working week. The upshot of this whole experience? I feel really good. Yes, I have some lousy days, I have moments of stress. The difference is that it’s far more controlled and short-lived.

If you’re wondering why I’m writing this article? It’s simple -I want to encourage you and your team team, to get involved and prioritise your mental and physical wellbeing. Whether that is to make time for these classes like these, take regular breaks or simply to go out for a walk. 

Let's drive the conversation and ensure employees feel they can prioritise their mental wellbeing and that working from home doesn't mean working longer days, but restructuring your day to put your mental and physical health first. 

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