In today’s work-from-home environment, I have learned from my friends and colleagues that they are on Zoom meetings from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm without an opportunity to step away for lunch or even bio-breaks. Yikes! People are feeling fatigued and stressed, and there is no end in sight. Pre-pandemic, we had the ability to connect in person at the office – either during a lunch break, running from one meeting to the next, and even walking to the restroom. Any of these might have led to a chance encounter with a fellow colleague for a quick check-in. The inability to do this during the pandemic has led to many 30-minute virtual meetings to answer questions, get information, and simply to stay connected.

Our days are now filled with all-day virtual meetings. When does the actual work get done? It seems people are working later into the evening. Not being able to randomly connect with people in person has created an expectation to Zoom into every meeting that lands on our calendars. There is underlying pressure that you have to join, or you risk missing important information – or even worse, you are perceived as a slacker.

Opportunity for leaders to support their people

While there may be obvious solutions to support peoples’ well-being, including scheduling fewer video calls, building in breaks between meetings, instituting a 30-minute minimum lunch break away from any device, and encouraging phone calls rather than video calls, I’d like to suggest another way to improve well-being while we are all working from home.

Personally, I’ve been blessed with the time, space, and resources to take a self-appointed sabbatical this summer, allowing me to escape the all-day Zoom routine. I’ve had the luxury to work on specific projects that haven’t required hours and hours of video calls. With my newly found freedom and time, I’ve enjoyed the full benefits of waking up in the morning to no alarm, having the time to meditate, and being able to journal. This has helped set up my entire day for success and productivity, leading to days full of joy and energy. The daily habits have made a profound impact on my co-creativity, productivity, clearer vision and path forward. As a result, I have higher energy levels and feel much more enjoyment. Organizational leaders could consider the following morning rituals to decrease stress, improve productivity, and overall wellbeing.

Morning ritual to support wellbeing

7-minutes of meditation

Find a quiet spot in a comfortable chair. The simple act of sitting still, taking a deep inhalation for 5 seconds, holding your breath for another 5 seconds, and then slowly exhaling for another 5 seconds is all it takes to meditate.  It is simple, easy, and automatically quiets the mind as you’re focusing on the count and breathing—a helpful tip from Gabby Bernstein. You will notice an immediate release of tension and stress. You can start by doing this for just 3 breaths then work your way up to 1 minute, 3 minutes, and then 7 minutes. All it takes to feel centered and aligned is just a few minutes in the morning.

Morning Pages:

Writing just 1-3 pages in your journal after quieting your mind with meditation allows you to write from your stream of consciousness and is the gateway to tapping into your inner authentic voice, also known as your intuition. Writing about whatever is on your mind helps to offload the chatter in your head that can feel distracting and stressful.

People have asked me what do you write about in your journal? I usually start my journal with the following phrase: “Good Morning Universe and my non-physical team-of-light (NPTOL),” then I follow it up with any of the following topics:

  • Gratitude: Giving thanks for something you are thankful for shifts your energy to positivity and appreciation.
  • Question: Ask a question to help discover a solution for a project, initiative, new idea or to determine which path you should take to move forward. Your inner authentic voice will answer you in your writing through random ideas, thoughts and solutions that will come to mind. Writing it down makes it more tangible and creates energy around the thought.
  • Challenging situation: Describe something or someone that is upsetting you. Just lay out how you really feel. You may be feeling angry, hurt, remorseful, guilty, frustrated or sad. Write it down and why you feel that way. Just the act of writing it down offloads your mind and can help you feel better.
  • To-do list: Are you feeling distracted by the million things you need to accomplish for today or by the end of the week? Write down your to-do list, so you can move on and focus on the task immediately in front of you.

The challenge and how leaders can step in

The biggest challenge people face trying to implement these morning rituals, while working in the corporate world, is not having the protected time and space to do so. To build a culture to improve well-being, leaders need to step in and champion the practice. I understand there are high priority tactics to execute in support of organizational goals and strategies. But have you considered that if leaders provide the protected time and space to complete these morning rituals, organizations may see an increase in actual productivity, innovation, solutions, and most importantly happier employees, who are less stressed, thriving and feeling connected?

The Solution

Leaders could hold a town hall meeting to present the following:

  • Acknowledge the challenges people face with back-to-back virtual meetings and Zoom fatigue
  • Propose mandated breaks between meetings including lunch breaks
  • Consider meeting by phone when possible
  • Introduce a morning well-being ritual

Leaders could advocate for scheduling a block of time in the morning (e.g., 30-45 minutes) for self-directed meditation, followed by journaling time. Simply blocking everyone’s schedule for meditation and morning pages enables time for silence to help support implementation by preventing other meetings from being scheduled. The rewards are limitless with the support of leaders, who are advocates for their employees’ well-being.