Your Well-Being: 5 Non-Optional Practices

Recently, our team hosted a virtual community connection session called “Managing Your Emotions While Doing the Work.” The goal was to create space for our colleagues in higher education, who are going through it right now, to experience some semblance of care, comfort, and community in their  “workplace” setting. No, not a typical workplace setting, but what’s typical anymore? Nowadays, we are all looking for, or don’t even realize until we have a positive experience, how much we want or need a place that feels good and is part of our work life. 

During that session, and in dozens of different sessions with clients across industries and geographies, we hear the same things (unfortunately):  

  • I am being asked to do more with increasingly limited resources.”
  • I feel like I am working 100% of the time.”
  • I am taking care of others without taking care of myself.”
  • We are expected to find quick solutions to long-standing problems.”
  • I feel isolated and burned out.”
  • We are asked to stay quiet and just keep going, saying yes to people who are either ill-informed or entrenched in a broken system.”

Perhaps most heartbreaking, “I feel like I am being used for target practice.” 

If any of these resonate with you, my heart is with you–and it’s heavy. Work shouldn’t be this tough. Ideally, work should be a place to grow, explore, and, yes, challenge ourselves, but for a purpose. 

Whatever you’re feeling, you have a right to it. We haven’t even (not really) fully processed the impacts of COVID–a global lockdown filled with so much uncertainty, sometimes death, and much polarization. We rolled right into more of the same, almost institutionalizing the attributes of one of the most pain-filled experiences most of us have ever lived through. WTF?! 

We must find a better way forward. I know that we are capable of more than what we are experiencing right now. The key is:

  1. Identify and commit to what we want to experience more of in our lives.


  2. Find a critical mass of others who are like-minded to help us start moving our collective energy in a different direction.  

Believing these 2 simple acts will get us to a better place is either “magical thinking” or a “well-being movement”—I choose the latter.  

While acknowledging each of us is experiencing the world differently, perhaps some of us are identifying strongly with a political stance or some might be focusing on personal mental health, maybe this is also a moment to get centered.  

Let’s take a deep breath and widen our lenses.  

It is essential that you look for ways to nurture your own sense of well-being so that you can show up the way you want to—for your family, your colleagues, and yourself.

Consider taking time to bring intention to your daily routine in ways that may not be as easy to fit in while also commuting or bouncing from meeting to meeting – but could have boundless good effects.


Here are some things you can do:

  1. Prioritize regenerative relaxation. Take a nap. Lay on the grass. Cuddle with your dog. Go for a walk with your child.

  2. Ritualize reflection. Prayer, meditation, and journaling are tools to quiet your mind and reconnect to your sense of personal well-being. For me, I pray every day, not necessarily kneeling bedside but spontaneously talking to God at regular intervals. I give thanks. I ask for guidance. I seek comfort. I’ve practiced transcendental meditation for many years, with 20 minutes set aside every morning and evening for my structured, mantra-accompanied practice. Meditation is followed by a morning pages daily ritual, giving me a jump start on the focused and creative energy that I need to do my best work. These aren’t optional or niceties. They are must-haves. They are like brushing my teeth and getting enough sleep. I am a better, healthier, and more productive version of myself because of these rituals. 

    I recently read in Jay Shetty’s Weekly Wisdom an article entitled “Does Prayer Really Work?” It described the researched-backed impact of prayer and meditation on violence reduction. It’s called “the Maharishi Effect after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a spiritual teacher who famously taught mass meditation sessions as a viable way to reduce violence while creating greater peace in the world.” As you consider the ritualized reflection best for you, consider how it can be expanded by community. For example, growing in popularity are silent book clubs – again, reinforcing the opportunity to reconnect with self while being part of an intentional community. 

    Many rituals, when done within a community, benefit from amplified impacts beyond any single person–prayer, meditation, reading, singing. It’s like the difference between Kirk Franklin singing solo versus with a choir–the amplification reverberates at the level of soul (all uses of the word apply here). Consider how your presence in these community spaces has the potential to heal more than you–you are creating and emitting healing energy that impacts everyone around you. 

  3. Open your learning centers. Find something that you are interested in – you don’t even have to be good at it – and practice it. Take pictures (not selfies!), learn to DJ, take a dance class, write poems, and do pilates. Our brains are muscles, and they need to be exercised. But be careful of the muscles you are developing. Scrolling through Instagram and TikTok, “learning” by reading snippets conveyed in headlines rewires your brain–and not in good ways. Exploring new or different interests allows neural pathways to stay open. 

    Imagine this: people who drive in big cities, where the streets are filled with bicyclists and people on scooters, are training their brains to pay attention to more sources of data than people who drive in rural areas without much traffic. Train your brain to learn; this openness and ability to intake new information in new environments will make it easier to navigate the inevitable changes we experience in our lives, workplaces, and as culture continues to shift.   

  4. Consume carefully.  Pay attention to what you eat, listen to, watch on TV, and follow on social media. As silly as it seems, my son and I listen to the exact same thing every morning on the drive to his bus stop, Let Love Rule by Lenny Kravitz. It’s just our thing, a simple morning ritual that requires no decision to be made and an assured shared feel-good moment. And it starts our day in a relaxed and happy mood.

    When you consume, notice how you feel afterward. What thoughts are left lingering in your mind? How is your emotional state? How does your body feel? Give yourself a feedback loop, then make future choices that allow you to experience the highest level vibration based on your consumption.  

  5. Act in alignment. Back to the session that I described at the beginning of this writing, people are feeling out of alignment with their core values. “Cognitive dissonance” came up more than once in our discussion. I feel it sometimes, too. All the focus on well-being in this writing isn’t meant to undermine the desire, nor need, to act. Choosing what to do is potentially one of the most difficult questions for many of us right now. 

    The best guidance I can offer is this: center your core values. Go beyond current political debates and hot topics; at the core of you, what is most important to who you are? Is it your family, reputation, recognition? Maybe things that seem superfluous in the context of a contention-filled world but that you can’t help but be drawn to things like laughter, lightness, or beauty? Or perhaps ideals that are more lofty, like peace, fairness, and harmony? 

    Use your quiet, reflective time to rediscover and spend time honoring those values that are at your core. Use techniques like morning pages or journaling to explore ways to bring more of your core you into your life. Dream but then get practical. What would it look like, practically, if you had more lightness in your life every day? What can you do today to experience more harmony? How can you, given your current relationships and roles, bring more recognition to issues that are important to you, or to your efforts in ways that enhance your reputation? 

I encourage you to take what works for you from my list and consider what you will need to ensure your own sense of well-being during this time of conflict, fear, and massive cultural shifts. The true test of character is how we show up during difficult times. Let’s find the practices that will serve us each well and the space to help each other flourish–together.   


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DeEtta Jones & Associates (DJA) guides leaders and organizations on a journey that builds capacity, strengthens innovation, and increases organizational performance by creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment.

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