The health and productivity of teams, whether professional, personal, or community-based, is commensurate with the health and productivity of the individuals who make up those teams. When team members are physically and emotionally healthy, it absolutely has a direct effect on the speed and quality with which products and services are delivered to their consumers, the ability to effectively communicate and achieve their goals, as well as their overall enjoyment of the process of working together.
When I consider some of the high-functioning teams I have worked with over the years, I’ve noticed they attend to three things:
- Accomplishing the vision.
- Caring for each other.
- Caring for themselves.
I once asked a group of professionals to hold a full bottle of water out in front of them so their arm was not resting on anything. Next, I asked how much they thought the bottle of water weighed, approximately… about a pound, they agreed. I asked them how much that same bottle would feel like it weighed if they held it without support for an entire hour… probably 5 pounds or more, they concurred. How about 4 hours? 20 pounds, for sure! 12 hours? Well, we’d have to call the paramedics! Of course, they understood that the water’s weight doesn’t actually change, but the feeling of that weight becomes substantially heavier the longer we hold it without the ability to set it down and give our arm a rest.
If the water bottle is a metaphor for the stress we hold in our lives and work, what these participants experienced in their arms is exactly the same thing that happens to our entire physical body when we hold stress, tension, worries, and concerns. When we never “set our burdens down,” the weight grows over time within the bodies that hold them. A lot of activities can serve to release the tension and give us a chance to regain our strength, recharge our energy, and renew our work with increased vigor and positivity. Here are just a few:
- 8 hours of restful sleep a night
- 20-60 minutes of movement and exercise
- Laughter, especially good, long belly laughs!
- Daily prayer or meditation
- Reading inspiring, positive books
- Nourishing, delicious whole foods
- Walking or hiking in nature
- Keeping a daily gratitude journal
- Small, random acts of kindness
- Pursuing an interest or hobby
Several of my current coaching clients have participated in 21-day challenges to help improve the “self-care” factor within their team. Some are keeping daily gratitude journals or walking together at lunch, subscribing to a daily meditation challenge via email, or committing to performing secret, random acts of kindness every day. While they all anticipated an improvement by the end of their challenge, many reported a surprisingly quick and positive result in terms of improved individual morale and team cooperation.
There is a reason that companies like Google and Smile Reminders have ping pong tables in their break rooms or a masseuse who comes regularly for employee massages. They understand the benefits of “setting the water down” occasionally in our workday to prime the pump of creativity, resiliency, and employee satisfaction … which we know can lead to direct improvements in client satisfaction and bottom-line results as well.
“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress, and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”
~ George Burns