Can your boss heal your gut?
We would never put our health in the hands of our employers, however, there are ways that our workplaces can contribute to our wellness (positively & negatively). Last week we talked about leaky gut. If you missed it, leaky gut is a chronic illness that affects more than just your digestion. Why you ask? It’s been proven that there is a gut/brain connection (which is why the gut is also referred to as “the second brain”). It makes sense though, doesn’t it? Ever had a “gut feeling” about something? Your gut health is connected to your stress and anxiety levels, mood, immunity and all the other amazing functions of our wonderful bodies.
Regardless of what you do, work can be a stressful place. Although most of our gut health is connected to person habits like diet, activity levels and stress management, there is also a correlation between stressors at work that contribute to poor gut health. Have you ever rushed through lunch to get back to working on your deadline? Notice how unhappy your belly is when you’re stressed out? It’s because the process of digestion stops when you are in fight or flight. Your body can’t digest food and be stressed at the same time. Diffusing tension and lightening the mood in the workplace can be done with a few simple changes and a committed team.
Since we spend about a third of our day in the workplace, there is a big opportunity for employers and leaders to make an impact on our wellness. Today, I’d like to talk about some simple ways to positively impact our work environment. If you’re a boss, this post is for you! If you’re not, feel free to suggest these ideas yourself – go on, be the hero! Here are a few simple, actionable steps to implement:
A positive work experience can impact nearly all aspects of our over all well-being. When people think of workplace wellness, what comes to mind (most often) is weight loss and physical activity based challenges and maybe some lunch & learns. While hosting nutrition based learning tools and challenges is a step in the right direction, we need to ensure employee engagement. Have you ever felt awesome about participating in a work event when the host doesn’t even know who you are or how amazing you are at your job? Hence, we need more than this – but our needs are basic aren’t they? This leads me to gratitude. Human beings have a basic need to be acknowledged. Saying thank you for a job well done can be impactful. Show your gratitude! Whether you’re the boss or not, acknowledge the work that’s being done. Do it privately and personally. Do it publicly. Do it frequently. Sending a personalized message in person, in a handwritten note or even electronically can change someone’s day. Recognizing an employee or coworker in a meeting, in company newsletters or other social events enhance the dynamics between employees which elevates the workplace culture. Be present. Acknowledge the strengths, passion and commitment of those around you. I guarantee everyone will be lifted and the workplace can transform from a stressful environment to an equally intense environment fueled by passion, commitment and contentment.
Tap Into the Community
We all have lives outside of work. Many of us are involved in community activities whether we’re involved in a charity, participate in special events or spend time fostering animals. There are as many ways to contribute to our society as there are colors in the spectrum. Many of us on the other hand, do not feel like there is enough time in the day to do even more work when we’re already feeling swamped with everyday life. Even so, there are bound to be causes that are near and dear to our hearts. The leadership in your organization can easily tap into community outreach. Whether it’s a monetary donation, a focus on the awareness of a specific movement in the community or by enlisting participation in events. Think 5ks to raise money, community clean-ups, building projects (like a playground). If your employer offered you a way to do good in the community where you live (on company time), wouldn’t you find your work just a bit more purposeful? I know I would. It helps to create a sense of community in the workplace and allowing the employees to choose their charitable causes empowers them to find their purpose (in life AND within the organization).
Work is and should be serious of course but a little fun never hurt anyone. As a matter of fact, it’s good for your health! Having fun at work not only reduces stress, it boosts serotonin and allows for a deeper connection with your coworkers. Having fun also allows for improved memory, concentration and sleep. So how do we do it? Here are a few ideas:
- Joke of the day – whether you tell it at the beginning of a meeting, during your lunch break with your coworkers or as a company wide email thread, starting off with a giggle lightens the mood and allows people to drop their guard – even if it’s just momentarily.
- Gather your co-workers for the “Joy of Work” hour (or happy hour). Everyone must talk about something good at work. Take turns telling stories about the things that make work a joy. Each person should contribute ideas on how to make work more fun.
- Put fun things and activities in the staff room. This allows people to take their mind off of the seriousness of work for a short period, so they come back to work with a more positive and balanced perspective. Try Nerf guns, Wii dance or bowling game or even a karaoke machine!
- Celebrate Staff Birthdays once per month with a healthy pot luck, silly games and story telling by or about the birthday peeps.
- Encourage staff to leave work behind at the end of the day. Employees shouldn’t be so consumed with work that it affects their family life and leisure activities. Find fun ways for employees to “unload” at the end of the day or week. Create a ritual like writing a “to do” list and posting it on the board. By doing this, you commit to not thinking about the things on the list until the next day.
Health and wellness initiatives in the workplace are fantastic if you have them. Whether you do or don’t, implementing a holistic approach to health, tapping into your community and bringing on the fun can and will not only positively impact your work day and the company culture as a whole, it will impact your health – and possibly start to heal your gut! I encourage you to find ways to upgrade your day by using some of the suggestions above and coming up with your own. If you’re lucky enough to work in a positive, fun and collaborative environment, I’d love to hear how it’s done in your neck of the woods. Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments!