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Empty Office

Wellbeing Is An Antidote

Author: Lianne Sipsma

I am in some way comforted by the barrage of emails pouring into my mailbox under the subject heading of COVID-19. A letter and number combination I did not know just a few days again is now consuming my every waking moment and dictating my every decision. I am hearing from people I have never heard from before. CEOs from every commercial relationship I have, are personally revealing themselves in heartfelt messages and encouragement that they are doing everything they can and that everything will be ok. I recognize how much I must need to hear from these leaders, authorities, and specialists, as my appetite for information is all but insatiable and I greedily consume all that is on offer. 

And although I am now versed in best practice handwashing, coughing, and social distancing, I still need more. Something different. I need to know how to quell the rising anxiety of feeling completely out of control. And in a way other than mindless stockpiling. For a moment, in all the noise, I forgot that I do know what I can do to navigate this extraordinary time.

For years I have been sharing the importance of wellbeing. What it means and why it matters. I have explained to all that would listen that wellbeing is a state or condition we find ourselves in at any given time and that optimal wellbeing is when we are in a state of both feeling good and doing well. It’s a balancing act requiring us to use the resources and support we have, in order to tackle the demands and challenges we face. The better the resources and support we have, the more likely we are to successfully overcome our challenges. This is how we grow and thrive. We also benefit from frontloading resources – acquiring them before we need them – precisely for a time such as this.

In our model of wellbeing, we have identified seven facets of wellbeing – areas in which we can build resources and support necessary to sustain optimal wellbeing regardless of the circumstances. Our research shows that we need these to feel good and do well.

Here’s what these resources can look like when applied right now, in quarantine, in social distancing, in ‘take shelter’ orders – I know, I’m doing them.

I’m practicing mindful awareness by being fully present. This morning I enjoyed a cup of coffee on my previously abandoned balcony. My now-defunct commute has opened this window of opportunity and although only for a few moments, I breathed deep breaths of java and early morning dew, simply enjoying the here and the now, having nowhere to go. It felt good to breathe. 

I’m pursuing my noble purpose by living purposefully. That means actively living my values. For me, that means I’m a practicing pajama congregant enjoying virtual fellowship offered in the comfort of my home. This is a lifeline to my community. I also wrote and shared some thoughts with friends – a letter I guess – that I hoped would bring them reassurance. I entitled it: In courage, encourage. You can do the same. Living your values purposefully in creative ways is a noble spend of time.  

I’m working at optimal performance by pursuing mastery. I signed up for an online course yesterday. Never even left the house to do so. A long-time aspiration now on the table as I contemplate whole weekends of seclusion. Sign up for a course. Perfect your putt in the backyard. Achieve that desired level in the game. Setting goals and achieving something feels good and you’re doing well.

I’m injecting positive emotions by enjoying feel-good emotions. I’m letting myself laugh at the silly jokes that now punctuate my day – antidotes to a very serious situation. I’m sharing them with my friends and we’re laughing together. I can feel the muscles in my face relax as I do. It’s so much less hard work than the pleated forehead I mostly wear. I’m in awe of human tenacity and the clarifying power of gratitude.  

I’m enjoying quality relationships by seeking out companionship (not proximity) with the people that matter to me. They are my rock and frequent calls (voice and face, thanks to a myriad of choices) means I can enjoy my important people and their encouragement as often as I need. Call someone – it will make both your days. 

I’m practicing regular absorption by intently focusing on tasks. So it is my husband. Without the distraction of a bustling office, I see my husband relishing the chance to bury himself in a task, really getting into it. He’s created a designated work area and is tackling projects with fervor and intent, disappearing for hours, claiming the time passed in the blink of an eye. He’s in flow and he says it feels good.

I’m ensuring my sustained vitality by building energy to perform our daily tasks through nutrition, exercise, sleep and rest) – My family of four now takes daily walks together. A first. We maintain a healthy distance between ourselves and others (6 feet). Often, my teenage son maintains a healthy distance from us (that too will pass). The walk helps to clear our minds. We talk. We take comfort in seeing that the trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and the bees are still working. Normal is still to be found. Go look for normal.

This article was written by:

Lianne Sipsma,

Global Managing Partner, Kaya Consulting

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