May is Mental Health Awareness Month and if any silver linings have come out of a prolonged pandemic, one is no doubt a heightened awareness around all the different elements of well-being.
We now understand that mental health is just as important as physical health; that there’s no replacement for personal connection with others; and that we cannot fully thrive professionally if we struggle in other areas of our life. We also see how a more holistic “whole self” approach to well-being—one that positively and proactively supports all the elements to allow us to flourish—can pay off in the long run.
With all that we now understand about well-being, the question is this: How can we keep mental health front and center and nourish ourselves as well as our team members year-round to avoid issues like anxiety and burnout? The CDC’s guide to Mental Health in the Workplace is a great place to start.
But more importantly, as women business owners, we must start with ourselves. If we are not actively supporting our own mental health and modeling the behaviors and practices necessary to do so with our team, a culture of well-being will never fully take root in our organizations.
Naz Beheshti, author of Pause. Breathe. Choose: Become the CEO of Your Well-Being, was recently featured in a Forbes article about well-being. She shares, “I encourage my executive clients to start with one aspect of their well-being they have been neglecting. Often, that is something straightforward, such as a lack of sleep or exercise. I ask them to make a realistic but specific commitment—for example, going to bed 30 minutes earlier or scheduling a workout two or three times per week and blocking that time into their calendar.”
One of the great things about making these types of commitments is they’re easy to follow through on when we surround ourselves with others who can hold us accountable. Consider how accountability can work in your organization. Make conversations about well-being a regular part of your team member check-ins. Normalize talking about mental health.
Also, consider introducing a wellness program in your business to promote a healthy lifestyle, even if you just have a few team members. According to the Harvard Business Review, more than 9 in 10 organizations offer employees at least one kind of wellness benefit, and 3 in 5 have allocated a budget specifically for employee wellness.
To create your own wellness program, here are some things to consider:
1) There are eight dimensions of wellness: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Financial, Social, Occupational and Environmental.
2) Team members have unique needs: Ask them about their personal wellness interests, over lunch or in a survey.
3) Wellness gaps might be easier to find than you think: If you offer health insurance, look at your medical and pharmaceutical utilization rates.
4) Set measurable goals and objectives: Based on what you know, establish goals and objectives regarding the aspects of wellness you want to improve.
5) Lead by example: Adopt wellness behaviors before introducing your program to your team to let everyone know how important this is to you.
6) Experiment with activities: People enjoy doing different things and have unique abilities. Keep this in mind as you plan activities.
7) Get feedback: Have a plan to evaluate your program and evolve it if needed. Remember, there’s no one right path to wellness.
How are you putting well-being first for yourself and your organization? Let’s continue this important conversation in our private social community, NAWBO Community, in the NAWBO Institute. Just remember, you’ll need to create an Institute profile and log in to access it.
Lastly, as I finish out my last few weeks as your NAWBO National Board Chair, I want to thank you for the incredible privilege of serving this community. It’s no doubt been difficult at times, but also so rewarding as we’ve supported and lifted one another up and accomplished so much together.