If the pandemic in itself wasn't enough to deal with, the lack of economic confidence and the cost of living increases that have affected both individuals and businesses in the last 12 months making post-pandemic repair work difficult.
The long-term consequences of the last 3 years of disruption, isolation, uncertainty has left people feeling distressed, disconnected, lacking confidence and unwilling to make long-term commitments. It has seen personal and professional relationships stretched, sometimes irreparably so, and important events and milestones missed, creating a feeling of grief and loss.
In companies the long-term impact for some organisations is the introduction of home working. With it's upsides of greater flexibility and no travel time, the downsides mean lower workplace connection and synergistic benefits that come from the intracellular bonds created when spending time together.
If people aren't in sync, things won't work out well.
On top of that, the rise in energy costs means that many individuals and businesses are feeling stretched financially, and one of the first so called 'luxuries' to go, can be wellbeing.
Whilst focusing on wellbeing right now might seem difficult, it doesn't mean it is impossible. Yes, there is a large and growing wellbeing industry that can offer amazing services for a substantial investment but for some, these services will be unobtainable. As a provider of those services, I can confirm that with a bit of creativity and legwork, the core needs of humans can be met, and for a lot less than you would expect.
Let's look at some quick and easy ways you get get some of the benefits of a expensive wellbeing experience, at a fraction of the cost:
1) Go somewhere neutral
Depending on our experiences, we can associate a location with strong emotions. For example, we might associate a location with friendship and support, or stress, overwhelm and being underappreciated. Going to a neutral location such as a woodland, beach or interesting building is a pattern break that puts us in a different state of mind. This opens people up to being more receptive and curious. We tend to be more alert and mindful when it is a new location we've not been to before. You don't have to travel far or pay an entrance fee to experience something new. A nearby park, historic building or waterway is quite likely within walking distance of where you are now and will bring a sense of adventure and freshness. If it has plenty of culture or nature, you will find it even more calming and/or energising and awakening.
2) Share a meal together
Sharing food is a very nurturing and bonding thing to do. Seeing as we all need to eat, this can be done at a very low cost. People can bring in a few items to share and have as a picnic. The activity becomes less about the food and more about the sharing and connection. I have hosted many a 'Pot luck lunch' at my events and training courses. So long as you take a happy go lucky approach to the event and be ok with whatever gets brought, it can be a lovely opportunity to express personality and character and learn something new about one another.
To Break Bread With Someone Meaning: To share a meal with someone.
This means more than just eating; it is a sense of connection with someone or some group of people. Perhaps you are enemies; breaking bread with someone indicates a sense of forgiveness and putting the past behind you?
3) Get peace with the present
At the heart of all wellness practices is a simple commitment to listen to what your mind, body and soul needs. We can spend so much time worrying about performing for and pleasing others we can forget that our first priority for optimal function needs to be ourselves. Taking time to pause, reflect and accept our truth is the first step in being aware of problems and able to change anything that is stopping us from moving forwards.
When we are so busy doing, it can be very difficult to realise we are in a job, relationship or location that doesn't suit us. Creating the space to be honest with and come to terms with reality empowers us to address our circumstances with our whole selves. Our creative, problem solving mind needs stillness and calm to work at its best, and connection with others creates stability and harmony that helps us to feel safe. Combining quiet time with others engaging in quiet time is a wonderful way to hit the re-set button and deal with our problems. Creating a group for others that feel the same to meet in person or virtually makes being ok with life, so much easier.
4) A culture of wellbeing
Making wellbeing part of your personal or organisations culture can go a long way to reducing conflict and restoring connection. Fostering an environment of honesty and acceptance costs nothing and is ultimately the gateway to better health for everyone. This can be done by slowing down and living life from confidence rather than fear and making wellbeing a priority.
I used to live on fear the whole time - fear of life, others, what people thought of me, not having enough and not being able to provide for myself. Having run that experiment I know it is both unsustainable and creates great illness and suffering. Instead, I discovered I had to be willing to open up and trust life more. I had to trust I was ok, others could be trusted, that ultimately the only opinion that mattered was my own and that I would have enough. It required me to get out of my own way so I could experience the goodness that was on offer.
Creating a culture of openess, trust, vulnerability and truth gives everyone permission to align their thoughts and feelings on the inside to how they present on the outside. Those with a little more experience of this can lend their strength to those that are just learning, so a virtuous circle of openess and acceptance is created. It's also ok to let go of those for whom this type of culture isn't a good fit. Not everyone is ready to open up and be vulnerable, and that's ok.
5) Collaborate with wellbeing providers
Getting expert help with wellbeing can save money in the long run. Seeing as wellbeing providers are also being impacted by cost of living increases, reach out and see if they're willing to do something for the budget you have. You may find they are willing to drop their fee in return for media exposure or a video testimonial they can use on their website. Alternatively, they may be able to slim down one of their programs to offer part at a rate that is affordable, or know of additional funding sources that would help you reach your wellbeing goals. Those new to the industry may also appreciate the opportunity to get some experience under their belt and offer a discount. Being outcome focused will help you explore with other's what's possible and make what seemed impossible a reality.
6) Determine the financial value of being well
Often the perception that spending time, money or energy on wellbeing is a waste of time is from those that have never done it. In reality, time off work or making mistakes is costly. Put a true financial value on what it costs when someone is absent or working under par and look at the bigger picture. It's easy to be short-termist about wellbeing when all is well, but as anyone that has been through a burnout episode will share, their burnout was costly and quite often, preventable.
When wellbeing isn't already a daily priority, you may be surprised at the return on investment when a change of focus is made. Like putting a small amount of savings aside each day, prioritising wellbeing can be the difference between burnout and staying afloat, or even thriving! Look around and find a role model you respect and find out what their strategy is. You may learn something useful that you can apply to yourself that you wouldn't have thought of before.
Once you make a commitment to this path, resources will appear. For example, I offer a free peace with your present reminder service via my Facebook Peace Project group. I am also currently leading a free Mind Calm Meditation course funded by Wayfinder Woman. Both are opportunities to dive into this topic in greater depth.
7) See the good
You may also find that the disruption of the pandemic and subsequent financial challenges is an opportunity for improvement. Post traumatic growth is when positive change is experienced as a result of struggling with challenging, highly stressful life circumstances. By taking a fresh approach to the problem or challenge greater depth, stability, connection and resilience can be developed that serves well in the good times too.
Examples of post traumatic growth include starting a charity or support group, getting a new qualification, leaving an unhealthy relationship or taking up a new hobby. Speak to anyone that is doing something inspiring and you'll probably find they gained there strength as a result of adversity. The interview below is one such example.
I trust that by sharing these ideas you will have been inspired to think of your own or what is possible with some persistence and creativity. With Mental Health Awareness week later this month on the theme of ANXIETY, I am talking to individuals and companies now about how we can improve their wellness on the budget they have. If you are a company looking for mental health support then I love coming to the workplace and sharing my wisdom. Or better still invite me to your favourite nature place or send a member of staff to me to learn what I know and teach it to the rest of the organisation. I look forward to speaking with you.