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How to Create Your Own Rx to Well-being

How to Create Your Own Rx to
Well-being

Derived from The She-Suite
Podcast Episode with Dana Rixter,
Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer
at BAE Systems, Inc.

Glennon Doyle Melton once said, “Life is brutal, but it’s also beautiful. Life is ‘Brutiful.’” In our modern world, the ability to accept the nature of life, business, and well-being is crucial to succeed—especially for women leaders. However, being able to balance your well-being and your career during crises such as the pandemic, The Great Resignation, and the transition to hybrid or remote work settings is far from easy. In fact, according to Gallup, “Wellbeing is declining among employed women, whether or not they have children, faster than among working men.”

With these kinds of harrowing statistics being thrown around with no solution in sight, perhaps it’s time to find the true Rx to well-being in order to achieve success that reflects the modern workplace and the stressors which far too often come along with it. To help with this, let’s take a look at the highlights of The She-Suite Podcast interview on well-being with Dana Rixter, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at BAE Systems, Inc.

The Prescription for True Happiness Doesn’t Come out of a Bottle

As Rixter explains in her discussion with The She-Suite CEO, Melissa Dawn Simkins, happiness isn’t something that can be prescribed to you at a doctor’s office. In fact, according to demographic work done by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, the happiest and longest living regions in the world came to be that way due to a healthy diet, daily exercise, adequate sleep schedules, and a balanced personal and professional life.

These zones, categorized as Blue Zones, are as follows:

  • Icaria (Greece)
  • Ogliastra, Sardinia (Italy)
  • Okinawa (Japan)
  • Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica)
  • The Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California (USA)

The thing that separates Blue Zones from the countless other areas is their understanding of what true happiness is and how to achieve it in their daily lives. For Rixter, the path to achieving this level of happiness is broken down into a clever abbreviation: M.E.D.S. as well as supplementing with what she refers to as ‘Vitamins C and D.’

To see how these steps can formulate and create a definitive path to happiness for women leaders to follow, let’s break down these strategies and how to use them effectively starting today.

M.E.D.S.: Mindfulness, Exercise, Diet, and Sleep

The first part of the Rx to well-being can be broken down into mindfulness, exercise, diet, and sleep. With these four elements executed correctly, you can begin to see the positive effects of a fueled and fulfilled life as well as the happiness that comes from these routines. To start, let’s take a closer look at how mindfulness impacts your personal and professional life.

Mindfulness: Pause and be Present

As Rixter states, “The practice of mindfulness has been pivotal for my overall well-being and success as a leader, but even more so just in terms of my general happiness and sense of peace as a human being.”

Like many other women leaders, childbirth and a demanding job led Rixter to begin practicing meditation to offset anxiety. This practice was transformative in terms of mindset, overall awareness, and presence for Rixter just as it has been for countless other women in stressful positions of leadership.

To take this concept of meditation one step further, create what Rixter refers to as a ‘gap between your reactions and your response.’ To practice this effectively, start by taking a moment of mindfulness before responding to let your emotions stabilize and your anxiety reduce.

The next time you have a business meeting or are spending time with your family, put this concept into action. If someone says or does something that upsets you, simply take a moment of mindfulness, collect your thoughts, and act only when you have had enough time to respond rationally. You may be surprised at the positive results this simple change in mindset can bring.

Exercise: Staying Active and Embracing Movement

The next part of this ‘prescription’ comes in the form of physical activity. While you don’t have to run a marathon every day, embracing movement will still have a myriad of beneficial effects on your mental and physical health.

In fact, simply getting up from your desk and going for a daily walk can significantly improve your cardiovascular health, joint health, and mental state. Looking for ideas? Visit: Keep it Moving: 8-Healthy Hobbies for Every Fitness Personality

Diet: Hydration and Fueling Your Mind

Just as going for walks and practicing mindfulness help both your physical and mental health, so does the nutrition you consume daily. Although many women think only about proper nutrition when they’re trying to shed a few pounds or tone their bodies, the truth is that a ‘fueling-first’ regimen can actually help you to feel better, be more productive, and feel more focused overall.

To be clear, fad diets will never be the way to achieve a fuel-centric lifestyle. While you may see short-term results, they are rarely sustainable and don’t help with stress, anxiety, and depression like a balanced and fueling diet will. Instead, simply try incorporating more of these elements into your daily diet to fuel your brain, body, and emotional states all at once:

Unprocessed foods
Whole foods
Greens and starchy vegetables
Grains
Plenty of water
Caffeine alternatives
Limited alcohol
Protein in the form of lean meats (chicken, fish, turkey)

The main thing to remember is that your mind will determine the impact a meal will have on your wellbeing long before the rest of your body does. For this reason, embrace variety, don’t forego everything you love, and gradually transition to a healthier diet so you can easily maintain it moving forward.

Sleep: Making the Time and Breaking the Habits

One of the most difficult and crucial elements of a M.E.D.S. routine is achieving a consistent and healthy sleep schedule. If you were to talk to the average professional athlete, they would surely tell you power naps and regular sleep schedules are vital for optimum performance. Since their physical and mental health are the ways in which they keep their careers alive, it makes sense that we should follow their guidance and treat our bodies with a similar level of respect to see our own optimal results.

But let’s face it, breaking the cycle of poor sleep is far from easy. To start correcting your sleep cycle and getting the most out of your nighttime ritual, try:

working out before bed
drinking warm tea
avoiding your phone in bed
reading a relaxing book
listening to a soothing music

Not all methods work for all people, so keep trying different techniques to find which work best for you to improve your sleep schedule.

Vitamin C: Connection, Compassion, Cash/Credit Comfort, Comedy

With your ‘M.E.D.S.’ prescribed, all that’s left are vitamin supplements. The first of these ‘supplements’ is referred to as ‘Vitamin C,’ which includes connection, compassion, cash/credit comfort, and, of course, comedy.

So, let’s break down each of these elements and how you can utilize them for your wellbeing as a strong and truly content leader:

Connection

Connection is perhaps the most complex element of this part of your wellbeing prescription. Connection can be defined in a series of diverse ways from connecting with yourself to connecting with a community, your friends and family, or even your sense of purpose.

To achieve personal connection at a deeper level, try beginning with a reset. Step away from your work and your daily routine to focus on yourself and quiet your inner voice. It is in this state of inner peace that you can begin to find yourself and connect with your wants and needs.

Secondly, to connect with others, you must be willing to create your network and take the initiative. As human beings, we crave connection, whether we’re extroverts or even introverts. In fact, human beings cannot exist and find wellbeing without each other.

As such, connecting with other people and having a community—whether it’s The She-Suite community or personal friends and neighbors—will help you to grow in your career, find inner peace, feel more connected to others, and feel mentally and physically content.

The most important connection of all is connectedness to your sense of purpose. To find your sense of purpose, ask yourself what you want to be remembered for and how you can make a difference in a positive manner beyond your work and your family life. This awareness will awaken a feeling of fulfillment that improves well-being significantly.

Lastly, you must be able to create a connection to gratitude. While this may be more of a tactical concept, recognizing for who, what, and why you’re grateful will help center you in your life and your overall sense of being.

Try writing three things you are grateful for every morning in a personal journal. You can also make note throughout the day when things make you happy or you encounter people you are glad to have in your life. The benefit of actually writing these down is that you can refer back and reflect on them whenever you need a little push towards positivity.

Compassion

Compassion doesn’t just refer to others but to us as well. Self-compassion is probably the biggest and most important thing that women leaders can learn in order to improve well-being and fulfillment.

In fact, many of the interpersonal conflicts between people are rooted in a lack of compassion for us and others. To counteract these problems, it is crucial to practice compassion daily and make it a habit both when networking as well as when self-reflecting.

Instead of becoming frustrating with yourself, recognize that life is all about progress and not perfection. Refrain from holding yourself and others to an unattainable standard and see what contentment truly can do for your mental and emotional health.

Be mindful of moments where you can allow yourself some grace and when you can offer those around you that same gift.

Cash/Credit Comfort

While most business leaders are aware of the impact of bad finances on career success, what we tend to overlook is its effects on our mental and emotional health as well. The truth is that you cannot be healthy and well if you’re constantly stressed about your finances.

The key to managing your finances for mental health is working to not just invest in things that fulfill your sense of purpose but also generate money and savings as well. You should always try to have enough to live on in any situation for at least six months and once that is in place, only then invest in your passions.

To ensure you have this kind of money stored away, you must learn to live simply and efficiently. Instead of thoughtlessly spending on things you want, focus on what you need first, so your money is spent in ways that don’t perpetuate stress and anxiety in your daily life. The reward of knowing you have financial security is worth every penny not spent.

Comedy

Last but certainly not least is the ‘supplement’ of comedy. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and for well-being, they’re certainly not wrong.

To get the most out of this supplement, you must learn not to take yourself, your career, or your goals too seriously. You must be willing to laugh at the little things and be open to seeing the humor in life. This joyful approach makes it easier for you to destress and find your sense of gratitude for the things around you.

You can also try to incorporate more humor into your workspace by sending emojis, GIFs, and funny videos to your network and coworkers. This will allow your whole team to laugh regularly and see the positive benefits of happiness and joy on their productivity and stress levels.

Vitamin D: Spending Time Outside and Enjoying Nature

The final ‘supplement’ to round out your Rx to well-being is Vitamin D, which is nothing more than getting outside into nature daily. Not only is time spent in nature therapeutic and healing, but there have been several studies that show even spending twenty to thirty minutes a day outside significantly decreases stress and elevates our mood. It also improves the quality of our sleep and our physical health.

With more remote work isolating us and keeping us inside, this ‘supplement’ is now more important than ever before. To get outside daily, try taking walks throughout your workday, schedule family or friend hiking trips, and take time in nature alone. Hot spring trips are a wonderful way to benefit from the outdoors and connect with yourself along the way.

With your new routine prescribed, the next step is simply to start ‘taking your Rx’ and reaping the benefits of a well-balanced and fulfilled lifestyle. Just as Dana Rixter found success in this method, we are sure you will see how powerful this strategy can be and how many positive outcomes can be had from simply connecting with yourself and those around you on a deeper and healthier level.

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