In a world of constant change and new demands, entrepreneurs, creatives, and employees are experiencing constant stress and this is creating a lack of wellness that is permeating our society. When people think of wellness they often think of health, but by many definitions, wellness has a number of contributing factors beyond health. Reaching our human potential individually and collectively requires us to deal with stress and not being torn down by it. Most agree there are 6-7 elements of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental, and occupational. Physical wellness is only one part of a larger ecosystem. In a world that seems to constantly evolve and move faster with more demands, finding or creating wellness may seem like an impossibility. The good news is it isn’t. I recently got to talk to Jonas Koffler, bestselling author of Hustle, speaker, co-founder of Radical Wellness Inc and The Mental Wellness Summit, and social innovator about the epidemic of our time which is a lack of wellness.
Personal Growth Has an Enemy
It’s hard to get ahead if stress is pushing you backwards. As Jonas and I started talking about stress, we realized how connected it is to so many problems in our lives. He is a high performing entrepreneur and nobody is immune to the effects of stress, if anything, high performance increases stress. All 7 of the wellness categories are damaged or disrupted by stress. The feeling of not being well itself is a form of stress and affects our state of mind. The combination of stress across various areas of our lives can cause depression. Physical and mental factors compound to create more stress and this can create a downward spiral. In an article from Prevention titled 30 scary ways stress can mess with your body, we get a glimpse into the multitude of ways stress can impact your health. The fact is stress piles up and erodes your well being at every turn. Some people may experience a lack of happiness as a result of any one of these factors, let alone multiple factors. How can we outpace stress and even hope to find wellness and happiness to be the best version of ourselves?
Look Before You Hustle
In a fast-paced world, people want to run first and think second. Wellness is the fuel of holistic growth and success. Starting with an awareness of what it takes to be well is key. Wellness requires more than going to the gym or eating kale every day. As Jonas pointed out, “Wellness requires awareness first, this is really the problem of our time.” Just understanding the facets of wellness can help you to start to notice sources of stress and the categories they are affecting. This is key to managing stress as it is hard to fight what you cannot see. When someone experiences a health issue, they go to a doctor to identify it so they can find a way to resolve it, but for many wellness issues people just keep living with them and then wonder why they are not happy, or why they struggle to succeed. This can multiply the problem so awareness is a key first step to reducing stress.
Managing Environments of Stress
Running into the fire. Many people who have high levels of stress are getting it from their environment. This could be work, it could be the lighting, the noise, people’s attitudes, distractions, and even expectations you have on yourself or others have for you. For entrepreneurs, leaders, and creatives this is like running into a fire. This is a bad idea unless you have the right equipment to counteract your environment. Our environment is filled with so many stressors that we couldn’t possibly name them all. Our bodies and minds are built to adapt to stress, but there is a threshold where it starts to have negative impacts on us. Take a moment and evaluate all the factors of your home environment, work environment, and even the people in your lives. Do they add stress or reduce it? For most people, there are way more things that add stress to their daily lives than take it away.
Get equipped to deal with stress. Many organizations are now designing workplaces to reduce stress and encourage wellness. This is a great thing for the workforce because we often spend so much time at work. Even simple changes can have a big impact on productivity, employee retention, and company culture. As Jonas stated to me, “There is also an equal amount of responsibility each individual has when it comes to managing stress and even being aware of the stress they may be causing others.” We all work and live together and each person is responsible for their impact on themselves and others around them. Talk with your employer or if you are an employer make sure you bake into your environment things that eliminate stress and create joy. This is why you see organizations with quiet areas, foosball tables, and gyms. Individuals can even practice breathing, moments of silence, connecting with loved ones, and many other micro strategies to counter stress.
Finding Your Stress Triggers
Know your buttons. When it comes to stress, many things can trigger you to get into deeper levels of stress. Keeping a journal of your stressful moments can help you find these triggers. Are there certain people or situations that constantly put you in a state of stress? Before you can fix these issues you have to be able to identify them. Is it work or certain people that you instantly feel tense around? Start evaluating your day by measuring your moments of stress and write them down. This will help you also deal with them externally instead of internally. As Jonas talked about in an interview on The Truth about Hustle and Mental Health,”We have to learn to adapt to handle new stresses in life.” Jonas suffered a stroke in his 20s working in a startup and it really opened his eyes to the connection of wellness and high performance as well as mental wellness and how it ties to physical wellness.
Create Habits of Wellness
It is often the little things that make a big difference. When it comes to stress, the daily moments can either work for you or against you, you have to be proactive. Our bodies have ways of dealing with moments of stress, but chronic stress is the accumulation of smaller stresses that can have a negative impact on us long-term. Jonas suggests you start by looking at ways you can reduce or eliminate those stress triggers and also proactively create habits of wellness. Find ways to alter your environment to reduce stress. Jonas pointed out that people have used breathing and meditation for thousands of years across cultures with great results, it isn’t something new yet many organizations are adopting it. I recently read an article about how they replaced detention in some schools with meditation and had great results.
Find and replace stress causing habits with better ones. We may not be able to remove all stress from our lives, but we can certainly reduce it substantially. We can also find many ways to mitigate it. Journalling, mindful breathing, and positive self-talk are all very useful in the moment. It’s time everyone takes a personal assessment of their overall wellness in each category. Be proactive about your wellness, your entire experience in life depends on it. Huge thanks to Jonas for the amazing discussion on this very important topic. April was Stress Awareness Month and May is Mental Health Awareness Month and both are great times to evaluate each of our wellness, and the wellness of those around us. If you would like to have Jonas speak at your event contact us, and remember to build wellness.