By Dr. Donna L. Hamilton
While it’s no surprise that losing weight consistently ranks at the top of New Year’s resolutions, Dr. Donna L. Hamilton says obsession with weight is often too narrow a focus.
“For many, weight is a symptom of a lifestyle that’s not conducive to wellness,” says Dr. Hamilton, author of “Wellness Your Way: The Short and Sweet Guide to Creating Your Custom Plan for a Happier, Healthier Life” (www.wellnessyourwaybook.com).
Since much of our lives revolve around work, it makes sense to focus our attention on workplace wellness, she says. In addition to the mentally and physically demanding work hours, the American Psychological Association states there are many new factors adding potential stress to today’s work environment.
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“Because we spend a significant amount of our waking hours working, I encourage people to pay attention to improving their wellbeing at work; doing this is also an effective way to take steps toward improving your overall personal wellness in a way that makes sense for you,” says Dr. Hamilton, who adds that a holistic approach is your surest way for results. She reviews examples within the five arenas of wellness.
- Physical arena: This deals with tangible things in your life, including your body and your physical environment. Some of the many things you can do to improve this arena at work include using ergonomically sound office equipment, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and stopping what you’re doing for a moment each hour to stand, stretch and take a few deep breaths.
- Mental arena: This arena addresses your thoughts and beliefs; it’s that little voice in your head that seems to narrate your day. Keep this arena fresh by learning something new about your job every day. That may include something about your company or something in a related field. If a racing mind keeps you awake at night, try a “brain purge” by writing down everything you have to do the next day and completely forget about those items. They will be there on your list in the morning.
- Emotional arena: This arena deals with the cornucopia of feelings, which can get in the way of work and wellness. If you feel dissatisfied at the end of your work day, for example, write a list of what you accomplished instead of simply focusing on what’s incomplete or needs to be fixed. Keep a picture of someone or something that makes you smile on your desk. Loved ones, pets and favorite vacation spots work well. Take a look at it if you feel sad, angry or anxious. Or, take a quick break to read or watch something funny – maybe your favorite meme or gif. A few seconds of laughter can help reduce stress and quickly lift your mood.
- Social arena: This arena includes your habits, hobbies and relationships. The nine-to-five or eight-to-six workday can find you stagnant in this arena. As humans, we have social inclinations, so let this space spice things up in your life. Consider inviting a coworker out to lunch or on a walk during break. How well do you know the people you work with? If you’re shy, you may find that a simple invite can lead to an enriching acquaintance at work. According to a study in the Journal of Business Psychology, workers report higher job satisfaction when they feel they have even the opportunity for friendships.
- Spiritual arena: This arena focuses on personal values and life philosophy, including those things that make you feel more grounded. If you feel stress creeping up, do something that helps you get grounded and centered in the moment. For example, remember your personal mission: your hopes, dreams, and desires. Then, think about how your current work supports you in fulfilling your vision. This can help ease feelings of frustration and lack of control. During lunch, you might also try taking a moment of silent reflection or saying grace before eating. This also helps bring you into the moment and focus on what’s really important to you.
Dr. Donna L. Hamilton is Chief Wellness Officer and owner of Manifest Excellence, LLC. She also is author of “Wellness Your Way: The Short and Sweet Guide to Creating Your Custom Plan for a Happier, Healthier Life” (www.wellnessyourwaybook.com). Dr. Hamilton earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Virginia, and received a Master of Science degree in Zoology at Rutgers University. She then did medical research at New York University Medical School prior to attending medical school. After receiving her Doctorate of Medicine degree from Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Dr. Hamilton completed her pediatric residency at the University of Minnesota. She has shifted from her career as a board-certified pediatrician and now speaks nationally about holistically improving health and well-being.