In PR, just like TV news, no two days are the same. That is what makes it easy to find excuses to justify fast food and not making time for your health and wellbeing, but it is not sustainable. For more than 25 years I worked in newsrooms where the priority was the story of the day and meeting deadlines. Now, as Managing Director of a PR and digital agency, the pressures are similar, but there is one significant difference – I am the boss.

The old saying is “happy wife, happy life” and a company’s success is certainly dependent on a happy team. In the past 18 months, we’ve expanded offices and doubled staff numbers nearly every three months, and are still growing. Personally, I still find it hard to find time for me. However, there are steps we’ve taken in the office to help improve everyone’s wellbeing, including mine.

Here are some of those tips:

Learn to delegate

If you have a trustworthy, dependable and experienced team, you will feel more comfortable delegating roles. Although it might be a lengthy process, taking the time to hire reliable people is beneficial in the long run. You will feel comfortable and confident in delegating tasks.

Another approach is to utilise everyone’s strengths. If one team member excels at design, have them create visual content for your business. If another excels at writing, have them write content for your website or your clients.

Set boundaries between work and home

As a mum of two, keeping work and family time separate is always a challenge. While responding to emails or making phone calls might not seem like you are bringing work home, it can have more of an impact than you might think. It is particularly important to set boundaries between work and home if your business has multiple locations and you are required to travel.

For example, I am often leaving Brisbane for client meetings and media training, sometimes at the last minute. Over time, I realised how necessary it is to set boundaries to make time for work and my family.

Encourage health and wellbeing in the workplace

As all business owners know, it is important to lead by example. While this is typically with work ethic, it is just as important to actively encourage health and wellbeing. For example, many of us have diffusers on our desks with natural oils.

To counter that feeling of being stuck in front of a computer for too long we are embracing walking meetings. Sometimes it’s as simple as the morning WIP doubling as a coffee run. During this time, our Communications Director and Corporate Services Manager will brief me on the day ahead. It’s amazing how motivated you feel after some fresh air and sunshine, and the coffee doesn’t hurt either! 

Be stricter about breaks during the day

I do encourage our team to eat lunch away from their computers. The temptation, especially in a communication and digital agency, is to stay tapping away at your keyboard but it’s important to give your eyes and your brain a break.

Our Administration Assistant selects fitness classes close to the office for the team to attend at lunch. It not only encourages everyone to take some time out during the day but helps build a strong team culture with a positive attitude towards health and wellbeing.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

As a business owner, admitting you don’t know something can be difficult – particularly as you are leading a team. It is often expected you should know almost everything in the industry before launching a business, which isn’t the case.

Industries, whether it be Public Relations, Health, Tourism, Mining or Finance are constantly changing, and it is almost impossible to be across all of these changes.  It is important to remember it is okay to ask for help or find a mentor. Listening to their advice will broaden your knowledge and it is a huge stress relief to get those questions answered!

Leisa Goddard Health and wellbeing for leaders

About Leisa Goddard

Leisa Goddard is the Managing Director of Digital and PR Agency Adoni Media. Leisa has more than 25 years of experience working and presenting news and current affairs for Australia’s three commercial television networks including time as a foreign correspondent and war correspondent. Her award-winning agency has offices in Sydney and Brisbane.


Many qualities make a great leader, however, if there could only be one attribute, it would be their ability to motivate productive teams and empower individuals. Leadership responsibilities are typically outward-looking and selfless, as managers work tirelessly to create working environments in which others can excel.

Nicole Gorton, Director of Robert Half, explains why leaders can fall short of their responsibilities simply because they neglect their own wellbeing in the process. This is easily done when you’ve been recruited to put your team’s interests before your own and alleviate team stresses. However, workplace wellbeing is crucial for all employees, at both staff and management level.

Workplace wellbeing is important for everyone

In any position, a lack of wellbeing at work can lead to disengagement, low morale and reduced productivity. For these reasons, poor mental health at work costs the Australian economy billions of dollars each year. A portion of this is due to workers compensation claims.

A mentally healthy workplace is one which acknowledges the risks and puts protective mechanisms in place to mitigate them. There’s no shortage of incentives for organisations to start taking workplace wellbeing more seriously. Studies have shown that happiness in the workplace makes people approximately 12% more productive. Similarly, wellness initiatives can significantly improve employee satisfaction (Proto, Sgroi, Oswald, 2019).

Happiness gives workplaces the ability to access and benefit from three key positive emotions:

  1. ‘Enthusiasm’ is said to mobilise individual efforts
  2. ‘Interest’ helps professionals focus their energy
  3. ‘Contentment’ causes people to reflect and replicate their successes

There’s no doubt that these human emotions, and the positives they bring, are beneficial at every level of an organisation.

Creating an environment where self-care is encouraged

Given its direct relationship to wider business performance, managers must understand self-care in the quest for happiness is of equal importance to any other skill required of great leaders – especially when ‘leading by example’ is one of the top characteristics of effective management. From the top down, leaders must create and nurture environments where self-care is both encouraged and enhanced across the entire workforce.

When maximising the bottom line is the primary focus, prioritising self-care might seem impossible. Here are tips to help you find a balance between people management and caring for your own wellbeing:

Have a calming strategy in place

Typically, when we feel high levels of stress, our performance decreases. To stay productive, you should consider taking a moment to recuperate as soon as you experience those niggling red flags. Some recuperation strategies could include pausing for a refreshment, engaging in exercise or focusing on a different task. Whatever works best for you.

Understand prevention is better than cure

Holding a position of high responsibility can sometimes cause leaders to feel like the working day is endless. Continuously working excessive hours often results in a lack of exercise, poor sleeping patterns and developing unhealthy eating habits. Negative health impacts from long working hours include exhaustion, heart conditions, high blood pressure and mental health disorders.

Know when to end your working day to prevent burnout and maintain your position as an effective and productive leader. Incorporate weekly exercise into your routine and avoid dropping the ball on an otherwise healthy diet.

Delegate where appropriate

Not knowing when and how to delegate tasks to direct reports is one of the most common management pitfalls – especially if you’re new to the role. Without sufficient delegation, managers can find themselves neglecting their supervisory and strategic responsibilities.

Where possible, delegate appropriately by understanding when it’s time to let go of tasks and how to play to your individual team members’ strengths. Establish your own priority list, teach new skills to others and communicate clearly.

Know your early warning signs

Sometimes, poor workplace wellbeing can creep up on you in a stealthy manner. This is why it’s important to recognise exactly when your body is showing tell-tale signs of stress before things get out of hand. Symptoms could include a sleepless night, an unusual feeling of tiredness, a loss of appetite, an inability to focus, or emotions of anger or irritability, among others. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to identify and address the cause quickly.  

Take a holistic approach to health

Self-care in the workplace is about making sure all the building blocks of ‘good all-round health’ are firmly in place because when something is missing, it could have wider implications for your overall sense of happiness – especially in the long-term. While plenty of sleep, exercise and a healthy diet might seem like obvious components to a healthy lifestyle, there are other aspects to consider too. For example, continue to learn new skills and adopt new ways of thinking to improve your intellectual health, build positive relationships inside and outside the workplace, and perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to take a step back and re-evaluate your role. Ensuring your work is meaningful and that you are living true to your values is essential for a healthy life and effective leadership.

By taking the lead on self-care, you’ll not only be a more effective leader now and in the long-term, but others in the organisation will observe and follow with positive results. Sometimes that may even mean setting the example by removing yourself from a stressful situation momentarily.   

Nicole Gorton Workplace Wellbeing About Nicole Gorton

Nicole has over 20 years’ experience in the recruitment industry. As the Asia Pacific Director of Strategic Accounts at Robert Half, the largest specialised recruitment firm, she is responsible for partnering with large corporate organisations across Hong Kong, Japan, Shanghai, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

1) Proto, E., Sgroi, D. and Oswald, A. (2019). New study shows we work harder when we are happy. University of Warwick. Available at: https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/new_study_shows/


“I’d love to meditate but I don’t have the time!” is a phrase I hear often, and it comes as no surprise. When our days are crammed full of commitments and responsibilities, as they so often are, sitting in quiet stillness can be the first thing that gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.

However, a meditation practice has the potential to benefit our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, and increase clarity and contentment. Is that really the sort of thing that we, the over-scheduled, can afford to keep putting off for later?

Fortunately, there are strategies that even the busiest people can use to build a regular practice. There’s no need to wait until your calendar is clear and circumstances feel perfect (because, let’s face it, it’ll never happen). Ultimately, the most important thing about a meditation practice is that you start—no matter how imperfect the circumstances may seem.

So here’s 6 ways busy people make time for meditation:

1. Be Realistic

Don’t set yourself up for failure. Start with short sessions and build from there. Some meditation teachers point out that five minutes a day is better than waiting until you have time to sit for an hour (and then finding you never have a spare hour). Like so many things in life, regularity fosters strength of practice, so make time for a daily sit, even if it’s a short one. I haven’t met a person yet who couldn’t spare five minutes a day!

Ultimately, the most important thing about a meditation practice is that you start

2. Build It Into Your Routine

Try setting aside a little time first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Make it part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth. Even if it’s only for five to ten minutes at a time, you might be surprised at how it can positively influence the quality of your whole day.

3. Utilise Small Pockets of Time

Every moment counts. Don’t discount the significance of regular mini-meditations throughout your day; they can be surprisingly transformative. Be on the lookout for opportunities. If you arrive early to an appointment, for example, you could use those spare few minutes to meditate. Or if you drive to work, you could sit for one minute before starting the car and another minute before getting out of the car.

Make it part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth

4. Set Reminders

Another way to create regularity of practice is to set an external reminder. For instance, I’ve known people to set their phone to chime on the hour or set an alert on their computer. You don’t need to interrupt the flow of your workday, just take a few moments to lightly bring your attention to your breath. Afterwards, gently return your focus back to what you were doing. See if you notice a difference in your mental state and energy levels throughout the day.

5. Be Adaptable

It’s wonderful to have a dedicated space for sitting practice. I love personalising mine with the right cushion, some inspiring photos, and I often light a candle too. But the perfect space isn’t always available when we want it, so we need to find alternatives.

Wherever you can sit undisturbed, even for a few minutes, can be a place to practice meditation

When I’m travelling, I’ll pack a few of those inspiring photos and set them up on the coffee table in my hotel room. There have been times I’ve made use of a park bench, or a chair by a window with the sun streaming in. Wherever you can sit undisturbed, even for a few minutes, can be a place to practice meditation, so look around and be creative.

6. Drop Your Judgements

So you got caught up in your busy schedule and missed a day (or ten) of meditation practice. It doesn’t make you a bad meditator. It doesn’t mean you can’t sustain a regular practice. Instead of judging yourself (because that’s the most sure-fire way to give up altogether) just pick up where you left off, or start over with an easy commitment, like five or ten minutes a day. It needn’t be harder than that.

Instead of judging yourself, just pick up where you left off

So you see, building a regular meditation practice is achievable for even the busiest among us. If you start with an achievable amount of practice each day, you might soon find yourself looking forward to time on the cushion (or wherever it is you practise), and that you’re inspired to sit for even longer periods.

I encourage you to give it a go, wherever you are, with however much time you can manage, and see for yourself the benefits it can bring.

Further reading:

http://www.feelguide.com/2014/11/19/harvard-unveils-mri-study-proving-meditation-literally-rebuilds-the-brains-gray-matter-in-8-weeks/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/11/meditation-reduces-stress-harvard-study_n_6109404.html

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/272833.php

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/12/exercising-the-mind-to-treat-attention-deficits/?_r=0

 

Featured photo credit: Georgie Sharp via photopin cc

 

Narissa-Doumani-profile-pic-Leaders-in-HeelsNarissa Doumani
Narissa is an author, presenter, commercial model, and an avid practitioner of meditation and mindfulness. She shares the intimate details of her practice and personal search for meaning in her book, A Spacious Life: Memoir of a Meditator. Find out more and download a free guided meditation at her website or connect with her on Facebook.


Ahhh wholefoods. The word conjurs up images of blissfully sipping on roasted dandelion tea, plucking unrecognizable things from brown paper bags purchased in funny smelling stores and mindlessly stirring away at big pot of barley stew slow-cooking on the stove.

Wholefoods are for hippies, for people who can tolerate bland food, and for people who have a lot of time on their hands – not for a busy working (and hungry) woman, am I right?

Luckily, these outdated ideas about whole food eating are just that – outdated. I can’t remember the last time I bought anything from a store that smelt funny, I’ve tried dandelion tea once, and I don’t eat barley. Ever.

I do, however, love juicy lamb cutlets, I’ve recently discovered the joys of cold drip coffee, and you just try and take that brie from out of my hands. THIS is wholefoods.

In my world, there are plenty busy women who easily incorporate wholefoods into their lifestyle. They’re not some breed of superwomen – they’re just like you and me.

So where do you start? How much money will this cost? What if you try it and you don’t like it? What are ‘wholefoods’ anyway?

Wholefood eating isn’t as simple as “eat meat, don’t eat carbs.”

Wholefoods is not Raw, it’s not Vegetarian and it’s not Paleo. It’s not about low GI eating. It’s not a weight loss diet (although you might lose weight, and you can lose weight on wholefoods. Just ask Lola Berry).

A ‘whole’ food is one that hasn’t had too much done to it since it was pulled from good quality soil, plucked from a tree or came from an animal that fed happily and freely on grass before it was humanely slaughtered. There’s an absence of chemicals and anything else unnatural in its growth and processing. Wholefoods undergo natural processing that enhance the nutritional value of the food and improve the body’s ability to assimilate those nutrients– fermenting foods, soaking grains and legumes, and cooking at low temperatures.

A ‘whole’ food is one that hasn’t had too much done to it since it was pulled from good quality soil, plucked from a tree or came from an animal that fed happily and freely on grass before it was humanely slaughtered

The wholefood way naturally lends itself to the well-educated and the worldly because it requires ongoing thought, questioning and consideration.

Opting to go wholefoods could be the best thing you ever do for your health and the planet. Once you do away with the chemical concoctions commonly referred to as food in favour of real food, you can say hello to glowing and youthful looking skin, balanced hormones, better moods, regular toilet habits and weight maintenance without really trying (truly).

You could leap boldly with both feet into the world of wholefoods, but you’ll likely keel over within a week, having blindly wasted time, money and energy. Or you can accept my gentle offer of guidance and take, in this order, these 5 steps:

1. Adopt a wholefood mindset – know what wholefoods are and the positive impact that adopting a wholefoods lifestyle will have on your health

Wholefood eating starts first in the mind.

It begins by defining ‘food’ as something that should nourish the body, which should naturally lead to a search for the most nourishing foods, which will naturally lead you to focusing on the source and processing of produce.

That will make sense – eventually. My wholefood journey took five years to cultivate, and as my understanding has deepened, I’ve found it easier to make choices I once struggled with.

Visit the Weston A. Price Foundation website for a better understanding of wholefoods (Doctor Price is attributed with the return of wholefood eating), or read Sydney naturopath Anthia Khoullouros’s book I Am Food, and Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.

Stop obsessing over carbohydrate and fat count, but rather source and processing. Ask of everything you eat: “Where did this come from?” and “what has been done to it?”. Look for foods as close to their whole and natural state as possible, that have been processed in ways that nature lent a hand to, rather than a machine in a factory or a bunch of synthetic chemicals. Realise the toll mass produced convenience foods has taken on your body.

The more informed you are, the less “but I’m so busy” will be a valid excuse, and you will naturally make the time in your day and the room in your budget for wholefoods.

2. Get familiar with the basics

If you’re unfamiliar with wholefoods, chances are you’re unfamiliar with a lot of its basics – grass-fed meat, fermented vegetables and drinks, bone broths, soaked legumes and grains.

Bone broth is really simple. I overcomplicated it in the beginning, thinking there had to be more to it. There isn’t. Learn from my mistake.

For the busy woman, bone broth is actually a godsend because you don’t need to watch it while it’s cooking and then you can use it for so many things.

All it involves is simmering bones (without or without the flesh) in water for around 8-12 hours (or longer), to draw the minerals out of the bones. I leave mine on overnight. When refrigerated, the end result should look and feel like jelly (except for fish broth, which doesn’t gel). There are loads of recipes floating around online. I recommend starting with chicken, then moving onto red meats, then fish (I personally don’t do fish broth, but if you love fish stews and soups, you’ll be right into it).

Stop obsessing over carbohydrate and fat count, but rather source and processing

This will become a daily staple – you’ll drink it plain, you’ll use it as a base for soups, you might even just eat it like jelly. Die hard wholefood lovers have it for breakfast. I promise you, a chicken soup made with store bought stock will never taste the same again.

Why eat bone broth? Two words: “nature’s botox”. Bone broth is the Ultimate Super Food, providing a host of minerals in a form the body can easily assimilate. It’s also healing for the gut.

Fermented (or “cultured”) foods and drinks

We’re not talking the yoghurt that you buy at the supermarket here; we’re talking the real stuff. If you haven’t tried probiotic rich foods and drinks like home-made sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha before, now is not the time to try to make these at home – you’ll find it fiddly, time consuming and wonder what the heck it’s all for. Instead, visit a wholefood grocery store and buy a few different types to see what you like. Cultivate an appreciation for something fermented first. Eventually, you’ll be including something fermented at every meal.

Once you’ve become accustomed to reaching for these foods often, you’ll become resentful of the hole they’re leaving in your wallet. Now you’ll be motivated to learn how to make them yourself (for about a third of the cost!).

My tips: If you like soft drinks and iced tea, Kombucha is a wonderful introduction to fermented drinks. If you don’t have any dairy allergies, milk kefir is also a delicious start. If at first you don’t like a brand of fermented veggies, try others – they all taste very different.

3. Start with your budget and work back from there

Once you know all the foods typical to a wholefood diet, figure out what your wholefood diet looks like – the foods you’ll eat regularly and the foods you’ll decline. This is where budget comes into play.

You don’t need to blow out your budget with expensive cuts of meat every night to do wholefoods right; in fact, wholefoods can be a very budget-conscious way of eating because you’re encouraged to use every part of the produce.

A chicken soup made with store bought stock will never taste the same again

Once you’ve transitioned almost entirely over to wholefoods, your grocery bill will probably only be slightly more expensive than it is now. If it’s not, you can easily make it so by eating more offal meats, more fruits and veggies that are in abundance that season, shopping at farmers markets, joining a co-op and making more things at home. It’s in the transition period, when you’re mixing things up and you’re still buying your commercial cereal as well as your kombucha that things will be expensive.

Depending on where you live and your access to good wholefood stores, you won’t have to spend any more time in the kitchen than what you do now BUT know this: the more time you spend in the kitchen, the more money you will save. Only you can determine that trade-off.

4. Invest in the right equipment – these will become your best friends

By now you know what you’re regularly eating and enjoying, and most importantly, where you want to save money by making things at home.

Save yourself some serious time and energy by investing in the right equipment.

Wholefoods can be a very budget-conscious way of eating because you’re encouraged to use every part of the produce

To ferment veggies at home, use regular mason jars and a culture starter or go pro and purchase Pickl-It jars with an air-lock. I can’t recommend these jars highly enough – you’re virtually guaranteed to get a good, non-spoiled ferment every time.

Do a workshop (and there are plenty of them around) in cheesemaking, fermenting, sprouting – whatever it is that interests you – because it is the fastest way to learn how to do things yourself. The experts offer plenty of tips when it comes to equipment and ingredients for your budget.

5. Keep it fun –there’s a wholefood world waiting to be discovered!

Don’t get all bogged down with seriousness and don’t beat yourself up if you nipped off to Coles for your veggies this week – you’re only human and this is a journey.

Wholefood restaurants, cafes and bloggers are springing up all over the place, providing an endless source of inspiration for your own wholefood journey. Have fun exploring!

Featured photo credit: DPerstin via photopin cc

 

Ilona-Marchetta-Leaders-in-Heels-profile-picIlona Marchetta is a freelance writer and publicist who founded A Wholefood Lover’s Guide to Sydney in 2014.

Ilona’s wholefoods journey began in 2010 when she sought help from a macrobiotic counselor for lifelong digestive issues. Finding herself in better health than she had ever been, Ilona began a quest to learn more about the connection between diet and health, and the idea of food as medicine. It led her to the wonderful world of wholefoods.

When she’s not eating her way around Sydney, Ilona teaches women entrepreneurs how to write media releases and do their own PR.