It’s already heading towards the end of January, and for many of us – off the back of wonderful holidays in which we totally relaxed, and hopefully looked after ourselves – we will already be wondering how do we keep self-care and wellbeing as part of our daily “business as usual”?

The psychological literature on behaviour change suggests there are some key ideas that will help to maintain our wellbeing habits (these things will be familiar to anyone who has done an Umbrella Resilience Workshop):

  • Routines and rituals: These help us to turn healthy behaviours into habits, increasing the chance they will become automatic.
  • Having a back-up plan: What are you going to do on the day/s that you just can’t follow through with what you had planned to do? What else can you do that day?
  • Do it anyway: We know that motivation often follows actions – which means that just getting started can kick-start your motivation to follow through with the behaviour. What is one small step you can take right now, that will get you started?
  • Flexible thinking: What are you going to tell yourself on the day/s where your wellbeing has been put to the bottom of the “to do” list, that will help motivate you the next day – rather than make you feel like a failure?
  • Expecting lapses: There will be days your best plans go “out the window”!  How often do we plan for this to happen? What is likely to make you lapse? How are you going to manage your “expected/planned for” lapses?
  • Support: Support and encouragement from others is really important in following through with our behaviour changes. Who can support you – family, friends, neighbours, colleagues?

Given that support is one of the top six things that help us maintain our habits, how does this look in our teams?  At Umbrella, we have been reflecting on this question, of how as leaders, and colleagues, we best support one another to prioritise and maintain our wellbeing in the year ahead.

Some of the ideas we have discussed include:

  • Setting an intention as a team to prioritise and value wellbeing
  • Having a safe space to be willing, as a team, to talk about what is important in terms of our individual and team wellbeing in the year ahead – you might be surprised at the common themes amongst your team
  • Seeking support from each other, i.e. encouragement, or in our case, agreeing to reduce the number of days that tempting, shared treat food is available on our team table, or at least considering the type of food we bring
  • What about a lunchtime walking group for a 15-minute walk around the block after you’ve eaten – with no work talk allowed!
  • Making social spaces a “work-free” zone
  • Creating some sort of “check-in” system (i.e. at the start of a meeting, for those who are interested, of course) to follow up and reward steps in the direction of individual/team wellbeing
  • For the competitive types, is there a way your team can cater to a little “healthy” competition?
  • Is your team interested in increasing your capacity to be “mindful”- the ability to be aware of, and observe our thoughts and feelings, to be in a better position to act according to what we value? Perhaps start your meeting with a 2-minute mindfulness exercise, or create an informal Mindfulness Group twice a week – with one team member bringing their phone and running one of the many mindfulness apps/talks
  • Leading by example – leaders give us a powerful message when they show us that they value their own wellbeing; for some of us, it provides the “permission” to put our own wellbeing into action (i.e. leaving work on time, taking lunch breaks).

These are just a few ideas that we have been thinking about as a team.  We know it will be a matter of experimenting and trying them out to see what works.  While the research can assist us in understanding what is helpful in maintaining our wellbeing habits, context is critical. What would work for your team?  We’d love to hear from you any ideas or feedback about what you find helpful in your context to support wellbeing throughout 2018.