Personal Growth

Give Yourself—and Your Employees—Permission to Be Well

A young woman sitting indoors on a sofa at home, reading a book.
A young woman sitting barefoot indoors on a sofa at home, reading a book.

If there was ever a time to truly give yourself permission to be well, it is now.

It is easy to get caught up in the chaos and panic of a global pandemic. The panic causes us to over-think everything, fills us with fear, and sends us into survival mode.

And as long as we are stuck in that space, we will never be able to see the greater message from the universe. The message that says, “This is the time for you. This is the time for you to focus on what matters. This is the time for you to give your body and your mind what it needs in order to be healthy. This is the time for you to be home. To pause. To be grounded. To simplify and to recharge. This is the time to permit yourself to be well.”

What Does it Mean to Give Yourself Permission to Be Well?

It means that when the opportunity arises to prioritize your health or happiness, you take it. It means that when you know you are exhausted, you let yourself rest. It means that when you need to have lunch, you take the time to sit and enjoy your meal. It means that when your children are seeking your attention without distraction, that you permit yourself to tend to them and to truly enjoy them. And that you learn to tell yourself that, “Nothing is more important than my health, vitality, and things that feed my soul.”

But putting our well-being first takes practice. Especially when difficult circumstances make it seem nearly impossible. Perhaps it’s why we’ve gotten into this global mess to begin with. Perhaps the universe is saying we need to stop and make our well-being a priority because we haven’t managed to do a very good job of it until now.

We have to develop the ability to self-regulate. To know what’s important for our mind, body, and spirit, we must actively seek those things and get better at communicating what we need to those around us.

Our Places of Work Play a Crucial Role

Many people fail to make their well-being a priority because they feel their boss or colleagues will look down upon it—that they will be seen as weaker, less committed, or less productive. Yet everyone, at every level of the organization, faces the same challenges in terms of managing their stress, physical health, and time for themselves and loved ones.

This is where business leaders and CEOs need to be responsible. The workplace needs a wake-up call to realize the detrimental impact that work is having on people’s lives.

According to a study of 3,000 people, 61 percent said workplace stress had made them physically sick. In fact, there is a Black Monday Syndrome because more people have heart attacks on Monday morning than at any other time during the week. And the American Institute of Stress maintains that job stress costs US employers more than $300 billion annually.

This means that leaders and managers have enormous power and the ability to improve people’s lives. They can do so by giving their employees permission to be well. And when they do, employees start to feel free—like the reins have been let loose and that a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.

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Lead by Example

This begins with leaders at the highest level setting the example, making their own lives and well-being a priority, giving themselves permission to be well and making that known. When they do this, employees will see that it’s okay for them to do the same.

Leaders should overtly communicate their well-being needs as a leader—explicitly state how you’re making your sleep a priority, talk about how you make time to work out or meditate, or be inaccessible during the time you’re spending with your family. Lead your staff by bragging about these things instead of bragging about lack of time, lack of sleep, or being busy.

Let employees know that they are not expected to be “on” all the time and that in fact they should be “off.” And then acknowledging those who succeed in doing so.

Avoid Guilting

Employees may feel a constant sense of guilt. You might feel guilty if you aren’t responsive enough, fast enough, in the office enough, smart enough, or productive enough. This is a function of a high-tech, hyper-connected world where society thinks ideas must move into execution at lightning speed and where there is little time for conscious, creative thought. You have to actively fight for those things.

And while more workplaces offer flexible work policies, or say they care about employee well-being, far too often employees feel that this is not enforced or felt.

This needs to stop. And there has never been a better time to stop or pause than in the midst of this global pandemic. Support one another in being well. Give yourself, your colleagues, your teams, and your organizations permission to do so.

With permission follows peace of mind. With peace of mind follows conscious action. And with conscious action, you can find far greater solutions (including spiritual solutions) that can help elevate humanity in a way that will have you emerge from this crisis stronger, healthier, happier, and wiser than ever.

*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.

This article is part of our @Work Series. For more information about Chopra’s workplace well-being solutions, contact Danielle Posa, Director of Enterprise Solutions at workplacewellbeing@chopra.com.