My Journey to Workplace Wellbeing
Whilst I first got into Workplace Wellbeing in 2014, the journey really began a long time before that.
Growing up in the fluid world of publishing where disruption, change, uncertainty and constant restructuring was ‘business as usual’, I needed some kind of coping mechanism to manage and channel all of that mental stress. So I did what everyone else around me did. Worked hard throughout the day and then retreated with my colleagues to the pub post work where we drank copious amounts of alcohol and smoked packets of cigarettes whilst we discussed the ‘soap opera’ that we were part of, speculating about what would happen next. I always left with new perspectives and insights, and it was great fun. But it was also creating a lot of stress in my body and I knew intuitively that it wasn’t sustainable behaviour.
At that time, in the mid-90s, no one was talking about workplace wellbeing or mental health. It wasn’t a thing.
From Self Help to Personal Development
As they say: ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will come’, and the teacher actually came in the form of authors who had taken the time to share their learnings through the books that I was promoting! At the time, I was working for McGraw Hill, a trade, professional and academic book publisher back then. And amongst the 10k books they published, there was a whole range of personal development books. As Marketing Manager, it was my job to promote them which meant that I had to read them! How lucky I was, as those pages were full of practical suggestions and solutions which I started to incorporate into my daily habits. Out went the alcohol and the cigarettes and in their place came new more sustainable healthier habits.
The Wellness Movement
It wasn’t until 2006 that I stumbled across the more niche wellness movement that was starting to emerge. It all started by attending a talk on nutrition, an event I very nearly didn’t attend, but that talk challenged the very core of my belief system about food and led me to become a student of nutrition. To say that I was inspired by the personal stories that I read about is an understatement, but with awareness came action. I knew that I needed to clean up my diet to enable my body to be in the best condition to support my mind and my work, so I looked into the mirror of truth and decided to upgrade my food choices. I stop eating animal products and ultra-processed foods and starting eating a plant-based diet. This transition was not easy, and my body initially reacted very badly. I was in bed for a whole week with the worst flu ever! But following the storm, came the calm and then a huge surge of energy and clarity of mind that I had never before experienced. 14 years later, the ROI of that single decision has been exceptional.