The pandemic led the workforce straight into clinically defined cases of burnout, especially amongst working parents, and what we now refer to as The Great Resignation and the phenomenon of quiet quitting. Employees are not lazy, unmotivated or in need of productivity tools, but instead are reassessing their priorities and work/life balance in the face of higher demands and the immensely heavy presence of uncertainty.
Workers today are asking:
Do I have enough flexibility to juggle work and family life without burning out?
Am I being treated and compensated fairly for all that I put in?
Does this bring meaning to my life?
Has hyperaccessibility hurt me?
How can I protect flow state and creativity?
Am I taking good care of my health?
How can I respond rather than react to stress?
Is “this” worth it?
Re-framing “Good Enough”
The shift that we’re seeing among employees today reflects a concept we love to apply in fitness: Minimum Effective Dose. This is the “sweet spot” of doing enough to experience the benefits, but not so much that we see negative consequences and diminishing returns. This applies as much to work output as it does to health.
While doing “enough” doesn’t sound like a big achievement, it’s actually a huge win for both employees and employers. Over-dieting, over-exercising, and over-committing are similar themes in the human experience that many folks are rejecting today, for good reason. None of these are sustainable for long term health, or for long term professional achievement and satisfaction.
So what helps reduce burnout and support employee wellness?
In our experience, the “sweet spot” to reduce burnout, support holistic wellness, and improve motivation—it’s all about flexibility, sustainability, and compassion. This can look like:
Flexible working conditions and policies that embrace parents and families
Responsive, empathic employers who are interested in wellness for themselves and their employees
Easy-to-access opportunities for movement and other health behaviors
Education and support on workplace ergonomics and general biomechanics
Strengthening and mobility to feel better and do the things you love
Sustainable exercise programs that won’t lead to greater depletion
Nervous system support to manage stress and prevent chronic health problems
Community with other folks who are balancing work and real life
How MommaStrong Helps: Habits that Stick
It is our belief that the “no pain, no gain” mentality is a shortcut to burnout. Instead, the implementation of health goals that are underwhelming and, thus, doable proves to be the sort of motivation that yields consistency. And consistency is everything when it comes to measurable positive changes to a person’s overall wellness. With this in mind, we’ve developed a 6-point strategy to support working folks develop a consistent habit when it comes to exercise and wellness habits:
Easy-to-access shorter workoutsWe offer multiple streams of *Daily* 15-minute full body workout, as well as quick 5-minute bites of movement. Our many options meet you where you are in your abilities, needs, and phase of life. Research has shown that the most effective approach to exercise for most workers today is a focus on small interruptions of physical activity in the workday. These provide the nervous system necessary feedback for improving physical and mental function. And, these movement breaks have proven to be sufficient in supporting general qualifications of health and wellbeing.
Functional strengthFunctional strength is a modality of fitness focused on the whole system of the body rather than individual parts. This means that when a person is suffering from something like neck pain, instead of simply addressing the area of the neck, we ask “What is the root cause of this?” This question generally leads to answers that require changes to daily repetitive movements and habits, and focused strengthening work. So in addition to our daily full body workouts and quick 5-minute “hack” workouts, we offer “fix-me’s” to troubleshoot and address an array of issues, postural needs and pain points, and “deep dives” offering topic-specific, in-depth education and progressive strengthening.
Lowered expectations of outcomeWe have been taught to associate our fitness goals with huge promises of a better life, a better you, and lasting happiness. There’s actually a term for this way of thinking: The Arrival Fallacy. Yep, that;s right— It’s a mistaken belief that tends to keep us stuck in a cycle of committing to goals that promise big transformations, and “failing” to follow through… when really, these goals are usually not sustainable. So instead of setting ourselves up just to let ourselves down, we prefer to shift expectations— What can we expect from just 1 workout? Some peppy endorphins? A re-set to our nervous system? A body that feels less achy and crunchy? A pause to reconsider sending that irritated email? Yes please. These are the mini-expectations that are not only realistic and sustainable, they keep us showing up for exercise. And remember— consistency beats intensity, every time.
Self-compassion when goals aren’t metAnother unfortunate byproduct of “the arrival fallacy” is that we put all of our attention on doing the thing so we can finally be (insert happy ending here), and don’t learn skills to deal with what happens when we can’t (or don’t) do the thing. Well, we believe that learning to “begin again” is part of consistency. There are times we need to listen to our bodies and skip exercise, times our real lives get a little too… real for a workout to happen, and times that we simply don’t do it. And these are crucial moments, because it’s very tempting to feel guilt, shame, failure, or like you “fell off the wagon.” For many, these feelings become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and that’s where the habit ends. But Beginning Again is a way to neutralize these moments, because they are not failures, they are part of true consistency. Instead of letting these blips derail us entirely, we can let them be part of the process- practice letting go of the baggage, and just… begin again!
Humor along the way…Because whether you’ve got kids and/or pets participating in your exercise, 7 minutes till your next meeting and no time for a wardrobe change, or curious co-workers watching you do “grumpy crabs…” we’ve been there. In fact, we’ve been there and we’ve been lots of other places that require humor and a re-thinking of what counts as “real” exercise. And we’ve discovered a secret: real exercise is the exercise you actually do, even when the stars are not perfectly aligned to accommodate your workout!
Specialized ContentWe are currently developing an exclusive business/workforce subscription plan that employers can offer to their teams, with specialized content offerings including:
A dedicated stream of “Daily 15 minute” (D15) workouts focused on helping you get through your workday in one piece.
Access to specialized “Daily 5” minute (D5) workouts that can be done right from a desk or small space.
Education on our “sweet spot” habit formation and goal setting.
Access to a library of curated “fix-mes” and “hacks” for addressing issues that are common for working folks.
In addition to online content, we can also offer higher level support, should your workplace desire that. This includes, but is not limited to:
Ergonomic evaluations and desk/computer adjustments. (in-person or online)
Day or multi-day employee/employer training on topics of your choice like functional strength, habit formation, ergonomics, strategies for working parents, and stress response in survival mode. (in-person or online)
Participation in workshops, retreats, speaking events, or special events to help express to your employees your approach to their wellness. (in-person or online)
If you’d like more information on our business/ workforce offerings, or would like to discuss a programming package, please reach to us at firstname.lastname@example.org Let us know how we can support wellness for your company or organization!
And! Are you working from home? Check out Stephanie’s recent article on ergonomics and physical activity for home office workers!