They called in sick! On a day packed with volumes of stuff requiring the capacity of project management and administration professionals, both the project manager and the administration professional called in sick. The two who make things happen while we consultants get on and deliver. A fellow consultant arrived and, noting simultaneous tears and crazed laughter, declared…

‘Panic Attack! You’re having a PANIC ATTACK!!’

What? Deep breathing exercises involving bizarre guttural noises and curious arm movements later and I was ‘reassembled’, the laugh less maniacal, closer to an embarrassed giggle.

The day, saved by my colleague’s ingenuity, reinforced the challenges we face when navigating the fine line between professional productivity and mental wellbeing in this fast paced world. Morphing from on the floor hysteria to temporary sanity with her help reinforced this. I say ‘temporary’ ‘cos it took some time before I was able to go a day without scaring the heck out of small children and dogs.

Which brings me to sharing 5 more ‘well being’ suggestions, each road tested with genuinely enthusiastic results (read – sane Jane)

1) Smile
Smiling makes you feel happier. Simple as that. The research boffins say that smiling, whether it’s natural or forced, causes your brain to interpret that physical reaction as positive and will then recognize whatever activity you’re doing as being enjoyable. So,
put a smile on your dial and you might just find yourself feeling a little bit better about it. I call it my ‘fake it ’till you make it’ strategy.

2) Play
Yes, you want your boss to take you seriously, but taking a few minutes to step away from your desk and play can seriously get you back on track. Crazy yoga poses and quirky breathing exercises aside, doodling, taking impromptu Instagram shots of one another, playing with a puzzle, throwing a ball for a few minutes can clear your head, reenergize you and spark your creativity in surprising ways.

3) Laugh
Sure, laughing at work might be construed as goofing off but, according to a Stanford Business School student Eric Tsytsylin, laughter is actually “one of productivity’s greatest allies.” Laughing puts everyone at ease and once you’ve all had that moment of catharsis, your “ready to work” attitude settles in.

4) Help
Research continues to show that altruism—helping others—actually makes us feel happier. My colleague immediately demonstrated a solution to my dilemma that morning and I was humbled by her lack of judgement and generosity as she taught me to breathe, just ‘breathe‘. When you prioritize lending a hand to a co-worker in need, you are actually creating a healthy mental reward system for yourself that promotes self-satisfaction. So, go ahead, take 10 minutes to help out on that huge project, support the crazed, mentally overworked co-worker, pitch in on a deadline, and feel the lasting effects all week.

5) Reward
At the end of that awful/amusing day I treated myself to a bunch of fresh flowers. Flowers are beautiful and smell amazing, yes, and they can also make us feel happier and more energetic simply by looking at them. And because flowers also promote creativity and brighten up a desk, the next morning I bought stems for everyone.
Even the sickies!


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