Happy New Year! Now that 2021 has arrived, how are you feeling?  I hope you had a chance to take some time to relax and rejuvenate over the holidays.  Before we get too caught up in the realities of our lives, I’d like to encourage you to pause for a moment and take some time to remind you about the importance of human connection, mental health and wellbeing –  and gratitude.  As leaders of your organization, make a point to kick off this year by motivating your staff to invest time and energy into improving their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing while you do the same for yourself.

I’ve outlined a few suggestions below that I invite you and your employees to put into practice to help support and re-energize yourselves.

Practice gratitude

Despite the difficulties we are currently facing in regard to the global pandemic, let us remain grateful for the things we do have.  In an organizational setting, you can show gratitude by expressing thanks to your colleagues for their hard work and assistance.  Those in a management position could lead the way by expressing genuine and authentic thanks to their employees in both public and private settings.  Every employee in the organization no matter their position should be recognized for their hard work. You could go one step further and send a digital gift card, or even an “old fashioned” thank you card in the mail as a special way to show your appreciation.

In our personal lives, we can be grateful for many things, including our family and friends, food and water, a roof over our heads and other basic necessities we tend to take for granted.  And as we continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, we should remember to practice patience with ourselves and those we come into contact with.  Mindfulness is a great technique that I recommend to help ground yourself and clear your mind. 

Make healthy lifestyle decisions

When we think of making healthy choices, we often think of healthy food and exercise.  While these are an important part of making healthy lifestyle decisions, it extends beyond just these two options.  Now that many of us are working from home, I encourage you to work with your employees to help them set clear boundaries in regard to their working hours.  With virtually no commute time and no colleagues or manager physically around them, your employees may find themselves extending their hours beyond what they should be.  This could eventually result in burnout, especially if it’s affecting their ability to take proper breaks or get a good quality sleep or rest. You can also incorporate physical activity and gentle reminders about proper nutrition into team meetings to encourage employees to make healthy decisions.

Set achievable goals

When investing time and energy into yourself, be sure to set achievable goals.  From an organizational perspective, be realistic and empathetic when setting goals and expectations with your employees.  With the global COVID-19 pandemic still very much a part of our lives, we must factor in the challenges associated with it when goal setting.  For example, with many children learning in a virtual setting in their homes, your employees may be playing double duty as workers and parents, therefore they may require additional time to complete tasks or meet deadlines.  Work with your employees to set goals that are reflective of their desires.  Motivation is a key factor to success.

The last year has taken a toll on us emotionally, physically and psychologically, so it’s important for us to re-group and ground ourselves at this time.  Prioritize your mental health and wellbeing by investing in yourself in different ways and reach out to your Employee Assistance Program if you’d like to receive additional, customized support from a certified mental health counsellor.