Opinion: Rediscover your wellness compass in time of uncertainty

Posted online

This year has been nothing short of remarkable and mostly for the wrong reasons.

Tensions are high across the nation, as we have seen well over 200,000 of our fellow citizens lose their lives from the pandemic, rioting in the streets and a general trend toward anger rather than empathy.

With all the doom and gloom that surrounds us, you might wonder what, if anything, wellness can do to make things any better. More importantly, you may be telling yourself that your usual wellness routine has been so brutally interrupted for so long now that it is impossible to recapture it again. Let me assure you that wellness in all its forms is perhaps the one constant that you can rely on at any time and, in particular, tough times such as these.

Most of us, and I include myself here, have great intentions when it comes to our health. We plan to walk more and eat less. We plan to sleep more and drink less. We plan to be grateful more often and critical of others less often. We plan to be more supportive of our spouse and kids and less frustrated with them when they make mistakes.

If you are like me, and I am guessing you are, many of those aspirations last about as long as it takes to get off of the couch and head to the fridge to grab the last piece of cheesecake. The good news is that you can simply start again as soon as you go off course.

When you fly, the pilot sets the course from the airport you are leaving to your destination airport. However, 99% of the flight time you are on a deviated flight path. Perhaps the pilot does this to avoid a storm, heavy turbulence or they thought they saw Elvis in the clouds. The reason is irrelevant – unless it actually was Elvis, of course. The point is you arrive safely, and all is well in your world.

So what if you haven’t been jogging in six months, what is to stop you from starting today? Maybe you have gained the so-called COVID-19 pounds by munching on comfort food. Perhaps you can improve your purchases at your next grocery store visit and replace a low-energy, high-sugar snack with a healthier alternative. The key is you are in control of your actions.

In these unprecedented times, you need to take care of your physical health and, equally as importantly, your mental health. Read positive, uplifting and educational works. Connect with your friends, family and co-workers through the numerous virtual options available. Spend time connecting to nature. Old Mother Nature has seen a thing or two, survived a pandemic or two and is more beautiful than ever. Take solace in this.

Financial wellness is another area that could be a great benefit to employees during this pandemic. In a recent study by Morgan Stanley, researchers found three areas of major concern for employees:

1. Fifty percent of employees spend more than they earn each month.

2. Thirty-seven percent of workers say they have more debt than they can manage.

3. Forty-one percent of them say they don’t have enough savings to cover three months of living expenses.

These are clearly worrying statistics, and the stress levels of employees dealing with the additional burden of the pandemic can barely be imagined. The study found there are powerful reasons for offering a financial wellness program internally:

1. Sixty percent of employees would be more likely to stay at a job if their employer offered financial wellness benefits.

2. Seventy-one percent of workers would be comfortable discussing financial matters at work with a financial professional unaffiliated with their employer.

At the end of the day, employees want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. They yearn to be a part of an organization that is empathetic and caring.

Regardless of what type of wellness offering you provide your employees, make sure it addresses their needs. Remember employees who feel engaged tend to remain with and loyal to your organization for the long haul. A Glassdoor study found that companies providing a good employee experience outperformed the S&P 500 by 122%.

Individual health, organizational health and community health all require attention. Take the time to assess the needs of each and find ways which you can impact the lives of others in a positive fashion. Being kind, listening with empathy and providing opportunities is the least we can do. The most we can do is our best, and we should all strive to do this every day. So, recalibrate your compass, find your true north and let’s become healthy in every way.

Cameron Black is an adviser and director of corporate wellness consulting at Ollis/Akers/Arney. He can be reached at cameron.black@ollisaa.com.