May 17, 2022

Taking Your Daily MEDS

Daisy Roberts

With May being Mental Health Awareness month – I am once again reminded of the importance of self-care and allowing time for the pursuit of mental wellness. This is true for each of us personally and for every one of our employees.   

Today, our world is still serving up wide ranging stressors if the background of our daily lives. The events in Ukraine, ongoing pandemic phases, and economic inflation to name a few – all keeping the uncertainty that can feed anxiety and other mental health challenges very much alive. Now add to that backdrop any stressors happening at home and at work and the normal pace of life can start to feel overwhelming and exhausting. 

So how do we keep from short-circuiting? Can we not only recognize, but mitigate the challenges arising from our daily stressors? 

One simple wellness theory I was introduced to while attending a professional convention is the concept of taking your daily “MEDS” – an acronym for easy remembrance of basic steps that are important in your health daily – Meditation, Exercise, Diet, and Sleep. 

I later discovered the concept is attributed to behavioral consultant Nicholas Bates, and was outlined well in a blog published at Sloww.  

Bates explains:    

“Wellness is about balance. M-E-D-S is a simple strategy” 

M is meditation. Take a bit of time out. Just to think. 

  E is exercise. Walk every day. Walk more. Take the stairs. 

  D is diet. Reduce the rubbish; increase the nutritious.  

  S is sleep. Get rid of sleep debt.” 

I think this is a brilliant tool, however, the concept for me has started to evolve. I initially saw MEDS as what you do for yourself away from work – surrounding the workday – to achieve overall wellness and the related magical goal of work-life balance. Lately my focus is on incorporating this self-care routine into my daily working hours of life, and assisting my employees in doing so as well.  

I want to use the concepts during work…you know…when finding myself glued to the chair & computer screen in that mountain of email, or attending back-to-back meetings, and still trying to get through the day’s meaningful work when I should be “going home.”     

So here is my take on M-E-D-S at work: 

  • M is still for Meditation – Now in the form of a 2–5-minute break… without any technology!  

Quiet time helps cope with mental fatigue, even when just for a few minutes. Taking a brief mental rest should not involve your phone – as social media or games do not give your mind a break. This is about taking moments of true quiet time – of purposeful silence or purposeful departure from stimuli. I’m looking out the window to see the day outside of my office, opening the door or window to feel the fresh air, or simply shutting my eyes for a few deep breaths.    

  • E is still for Exercise – Again, in a short form for the workday. Any movement sustained for 3 -5 minutes will boost the feel-good chemicals in our brains and help achieve a quick reset.  

Amazingly, even a short amount of time moving our bodies can enhance mood and boost energy. It truly can be any type of physical movement! So just get up and move. Doing so outside or with music only enhances the effect. I’m shooting for taking a brisk walk for the few minutes between meetings or before embarking on new tasks, even if it means a trip just to the driveway’s end and back.  (For those of us back in offices, it could be a lap around cubicles or a trip up and down the stairwell.) Taking a small movement break can help you come back to a task with more energy.  

  • D (is for Diet) – For me and many of us, this means carving out dedicated mealtime.  

My life in management is notoriously absent of true lunch breaks, but I have seen this happen with remote employees as well (clocked out but munching in front of the computer).  

My take on this one is to actually stop work for eating. Put that ½ hour of non-negotiable time back on the work calendar. This also aides in the pursuit of better overall nutrition as it may allow time to whip up a healthy meal vs. just grabbing the fastest thing to eat (usually a snack food) and calling that lunch. No desk eating is the general rule here!   

  • S (is for Sleep) – How about in the context of work, we call this one…Self-Care at work. 

Ok, we cannot sleep at work, but it is possible to incorporate self-care to stress reduce while at work. This can come in the form of making sure that the M, E, & D from above are a part of the working day! I also allow for “self-time” scheduling at work – that is dedicated time to focus on my deliverables – so scheduling a meeting with “myself” for some important working time can be a simple way to take care of my stress level and therefore my overall wellbeing.  

I hope the reference to the MEDS concept, and even my own interpretation of it, gives you some inspiration for the pursuit of self-care and work-life balance.  I recommend sharing these widely with your employees and get everyone talking the same language to recognize and assist each other in their daily pursuit! 

Working at The Wilshire Group, I’ve always been encouraged to prioritize finding that work-life balance that we’re all after at the end of the day. Using the MEDS concept and coming up with my own interpretation of it has been a helpful way to pursue self-care while on the clock for me personally, and beyond that, I know that the Wilshire team will always have my back when needed. If you’re looking for a company that truly walks the walk when it comes to prioritizing employee well-being, give us a shout and let’s start a conversation. We’re always looking for more great people to join our team and make Wilshire their “professional home” to continue to build our community of hard-working, but also happy and healthy individuals.  

Daisy Roberts

Senior Strategic Advisor

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