Comfort and stretch

I can’t believe I’ve been grumpy about the weather.

I’m always telling people that there’s no such thing as the wrong weather only the wrong clothing. I love sunshine, rain and snow, so one morning I was reflecting on why I was out of sorts as I stood under a cold shower. I realised that the problem wasn’t the sunshine in itself, but the fact that it felt relentless. It felt like we’d had HOT for weeks. I just wanted a little bit of rain or even just a few clouds. I realised what I needed was contrast!

Work can be like this.

When I’m deep in a project and focused it can actually be great fun. I love the challenge that it brings. I can feel the adrenaline and cortisol that give me a buzz. However if it goes on for too long it begins to get exhausting. The thing that was a pleasure becomes hard work and I want something simple and straightforward to do.

At the other extreme, if my work seems to have been too easy and the same, day in day out for a few weeks, I find it dull and can find it hard to motivate myself. There is a constant pull between overstretching, reaching outside my comfort zone and needing some comfort and security in what I know and do.

This is really helpful to recognise and understand in all walks of work and life.

There will be times when people need to do something stretching or challenging and, for most people, it’s really important that they have some of that from time to time. It keeps them motivated and excited by their job. However, it does need to be interspersed with simpler, more straightforward work.

Do you and your teams take this into account when planning work?

If you are going through a particularly stressful period, how can you create downtime where people get a breather for a moment?

At the other extreme, if a person’s role is very mundane, how can they be stimulated or rewarded occasionally so they are able to remain engaged in their job?

You may have someone in your team who is having a particularly stretching time at home, so asking them to stretch at work is potentially not helpful to them. We always recommend that you ask people what they need (they do know) and it may be that having a simpler role at work for a short period may help them stay resourced for their personal challenges.

If you have been having a quiet time at work, perhaps your next staff away day could involve an activity that physically or mentally challenges people. Whereas if you have all been working flat out, something more relaxing might be more helpful.

When you understand the need for both stretch and comfort for yourself and your team, you’ll enable staff to meet their own needs much better and support the whole team to better wellbeing.

Find out more about how our programmes can benefit your workplace, visit our For Organisations page.

written by

Ruth Steggles