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Being at Work Better than Before through Recreation

In 2019, the cost to US businesses of stress in the workplace exceeds $500 B.

The pandemic, heat waves, working from home or in the office, safety guidelines, past trauma... it can all be too much to deal with while trying to be productive and keep up expectations at work.

How do you go back to work... better than before? How do you create a working environment equipped to handle these real-life challenges?

Last week a heat dome hit the Northwest and average temperatures for June went from 59 in Beaverton to 113 degrees for three long and awful days. When the heat ravage ended my ferns, hydrangeas and blueberries were beyond baked, they were thrashed. The next day the skies gave us cooler weather and a light sprinkle. I could have kissed the ground, the relief was so welcome.

Recreation can be that healing sometimes. Employees are working long hours and postponing their vacations over and over (even before Covid). This climate imbalance creates some of the unlivable moments of the “heat dome”—

Bandwidth and Patience: People get shrill when the heat’s too high. Whether it’s frustration with the Zoom room, listening and engagement are waning and understanding of your colleagues gets more difficult with each passing meeting—even good leaders and teams end up feeling parched and dried up!

Breath and Flow: Surveys are showing blurred lines with remote working and employees are staying up late, working 10% more, and allowing work to leak over into family life reducing satisfaction. Look out for short, shallow breaths that increase stress. There could be sadness or depression about the pace and blocks to seeing their choices and what new ones to make.

Minimal laughter and enjoyment: When people are stressed, food tastes different. That wine once loved in Rome or at the local winery now tastes off or even bitter. Life, daily life, has lost its zest and flavor. When was the last time your client laughed, a big belly laugh, and maybe it kept going until tears of full enjoyment emerged?

Appreciation and Acknowledgement: How are you showing up for those around you? How are the simple pleasures of small victories and accomplishments at work, those milestones that will eventually make the big project complete, being acknowledged and appreciated?

Ahhhhhhh Yes, it’s time for recreation and integration for it to be a consistent part of a healthy schedule. Is the workplace encouraging about days off, vacations, mental health days, etc.?

In the workplace are there jokes about “Oh, you’re taking another vacation to Hawaii?” “When’s the work going to get done around here?”. Now the tone is set, work is over-valued and the culture for how vacations are perceived is weighted by negative, rather than positive reinforcement.

The National Park Service directed research to be done in California on the benefits of recreation. The positive results for individuals, families, communities, and the collective are many and even address some of the challenges we learned about at the 2020 Be. Choose. Cause. Global Leaders Conference on Healthy Communities. The benefits start with improved mental health and physical health, reduction in crime and delinquency, the elevation of community interaction and bonding, cleaner environments, and more. Recreation in our community gives opportunities to meet each other at the tennis court, the community pool, the parks, lakes, and ponds. It has the power to heal, especially when we vote to ensure all neighborhoods have the parks, the trees, and resources necessary to support fun, enjoyment, and relaxation. Parks are much less expensive than prisons and create sustainability for ourselves and our community.

Given that stress-related illness caused by overworking killed 747, 000 people worldwide in 2019 and that the cost to US business of stress in the workplace exceeds $500 B, what if Being at Work, better than before beginning with your monthly, quarterly and annual recreation plan? It reduces stress, creates more well-being, and improves mental health, so what if coaches included recreation as part of their clients’ discovery inventory or their development plan? Some clients unplug from email at a designated time each day and on vacation, bounder social media, the news, and anything that would deter them from their well BE-ing. What do your clients want for their recreation diet? As your clients choose ways to co-create daily recreation that feeds their soul, hydrates, nourishes, nurtures their body, and elevates relaxation, fun, pleasure, and pure enjoyment -- how will their leadership change? How will this life change reframe how they relate to themselves, their work, partner, family, and community?

"Being able to provide for the family is important but when living without RECREATION is like a car without gas. It’s stopped and parked waiting to be taking away. So why not give it some gas and take it to a wonderful place." - Lian Chin

"If bread is the necessity of life, recreation is a close second". - Edward Bellamy

"We do better together, not alone. We need to play together to feel alive. We need to share together to feel whole. At any age, we need to feel, recreate, breathe!" - Patricia Miller

(All of these quotes come from teachers at Therapeutic Recreation Centers)

It’s summer 2021 and people who’ve been in quarantine for 15 months will require little nudging—they are ready to get out and bike, hike, swim, and enjoy themselves in a whole new way. Let’s bring this new appreciation and savoring and weave it deftly into our lives and workplaces throughout our lifetime!

Sarah Graves, PCC

Sarah passionately and practically pursues the development of leaders through intentional, organic growth. She emboldens leaders to create an environment where management is expansive, willing to move with agility beyond comfort zones, and to champion the individual and collective genius within the organization. With teams in transition she inspires connection, realignment and forward progress within the awkward movements of the changing landscape. Her belief is that coaching is as essential an element for an organization as the product or service the company produces. “An employee who grows personally, grows professionally” and coaching seeds growth.
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