Leaders in companies and organizations often face enormous demands on their time, but the best leaders realize they can’t let those demands become so overwhelming that their health suffers as a result.
“Successful leaders prioritize personal wellness, both at home and at work,” says Kerry Alison Wekelo, author of Culture Infusion: 9 Principles to Create and Maintain a Thriving Organizational Culture (www.kerryalison.com).
And those who don’t prioritize personal wellness should realize it’s not too late to make it a New Year’s resolution for 2018, she says. Plus, taking care of themselves is also a great way for leaders to inspire others throughout the organization to do the same.
“Team members will be more inclined to focus on their own well being if they see the leadership team making it a priority,” says Wekelo, who is managing director of human resources and operations for Actualize Consulting. “It’s better for the entire company when everyone strives to be physically and mentally fit.”
In her own life, Wekelo says she follows five guiding values for personal wellness. They are:
• Breathe. Many people forget to breathe during the day, Wekelo says, though she’s not talking about breathing to stay alive. “On any given day we are going to experience moments of stress,” she says. “Focusing on taking a few long, slow breaths can help calm you down.”
• Move. Movement is another way to take care of your well being. “Many of us are sedentary most of the day, sitting at desks then lounging at home in the evening,” she says. “We are not made to sit like this all day every day.” To get moving, you don’t need to schedule time at a gym for an aggressive workout. She suggests stretching while at your desk and taking time once an hour to get up and walk, even if it’s just to walk to somewhere else in the office.
• Play. Children love to play, but adults forget they need to take time to play as well, even if it’s just a game of cards or charades. “Next time you find yourself stressing, give your brain a break and call your inner child out for a play date,” Wekelo says.
• Nourish. No matter how smoothly life is going, there will always be conflict, so you should handle it directly, openly and immediately. When you do, you will be nourishing your relationship with those employees and they will have the opportunity to nourish themselves. “Take the approach that everything is a learning opportunity and work with your employees on how to improve rather than running them into the ground and making them feel even worse,” Wekelo says. “If they know you care and support them even in hard times, you will have their loyalty.”
• Replenish. Life gets hectic, so it’s important to set aside time for reflection, introspection, meditation or just plain quiet time. “My best ideas come from my quiet time,” Wekelo says.
“I am sure that’s why so many of the great pioneers, artists and scientists spend hours each day walking and contemplating.”
“As you consider your own personal well-being, it’s important to remember that you create your life and how you feel,” Wekelo says. “Change starts at the individual level.”
About Kerry Alison Wekelo
Kerry Alison Wekelo (www.kerryalison.com) is managing director of human resources and operations for Actualize Consulting. She also is author of Culture Infusion: 9 Principles to Create and Maintain a Thriving Organizational Culture. Among her other accomplishments, Wekelo is a yoga teacher, life coach, award-winning author of children’s books, and the founder of Zendoway, a company that encourages holistic wellness.