Guest Blog: Leeds Wellbeing Week is Back!

This week (13th-18th May) marks Leeds Wellbeing Week, a yearly wellbeing festival taking place during Mental Health Awareness Week. The aim of the festival is to highlight the importance of mental health with a selection of events and workshops across the city of Leeds.

The wellbeing initiative was created by Lucile Allen-Paisant, Director of Mind It, an organisation offering health and wellbeing programmes designed for mindful companies who are looking to motivate and re-energise their staff. As a former Marketing Director of a fast-growing business, with a wide range of responsibilities and a strong passion to succeed, Lucile almost experienced burn-out herself and is now an advocate of preventing this through wellbeing activities. Here, Lucile explains why she created the week and shares her top tips for improving your wellbeing.

Why did you create Leeds Wellbeing Week?

Lucile said: “Leeds Wellbeing Week Festival was created in 2017 to make wellbeing initiatives visible and accessible. I grew tired of the clichés attached to wellbeing: you do not have to do yoga everyday and drink a green smoothie in the morning to feel well – unless it works for you! Wellbeing is individual to a person! I wanted people in Leeds to come up with their own wellbeing strategies, find things that work for themselves, and themselves only. In other words, I wanted people to understand that we all have different wellbeing strategies.

“I also want people to understand that small things can go a long way; simple things – going for a walk, having a coffee with a friend, playing with the kids – can all be part of someone’s wellbeing strategy!

“Business owners will have a strategy for their businesses and managers will have a strategy for their departments, so I wanted people to understand that you also need a strategy for yourself. We often forget ourselves in the picture when we are busy achieving business goals and fitting in personal duties, and yet, you cannot function if you do not make time to refuel.”

Why is taking care of yourself key?

Lucile continued: “As the safety procedure on a plane states: you need to put your own oxygen mask on before putting one on anyone else. It is the same in life: if you don’t take care of yourself first, you cannot take care of others. We interact with others in most our work tasks and we cannot do the tasks properly if we are not well ourselves.

“Having your own wellbeing strategy is also the way to avoid burn-out or any long-term stress condition. If you don’t, you are likely to go from adrenaline rush to adrenaline rush, from work….to gym….to school run….to dinner…. to bed….to next day, meaning your body will never properly recover. As challenging as it might sound, it is important to make sure you implement some me-time every day, starting from as little as five minutes.”

What are your top three tips for taking care of yourself?

Lucile explains: “Have short ‘do-nothing’ breaks: I am a big advocate of plugging wellbeing habits onto existing habits. Try to do ‘nothing’ when you are doing something that you do every day. For instance, when you drink your coffee, just drink your coffee. Do not check social media or emails. Simply drink your coffee. You will experience a refreshing and re-energising moment and be ready for the next step. Another habit you might want to try is to listen to a song until it ends, before moving onto the next thing. It is a very efficient way to slow down, think and be much more productive and mindful.

“Schedule your me-time in advance: Put that weekly gym session, monthly week-end away or daily five-minute stretch in your calendar. And stick to it! Once you have your wellbeing strategy in place, plan to make sure you make it happen. If you have done so and it is still not happening, be accountable to someone: go to the gym with a friend for instance. It is more difficult to cancel on someone than to cancel on ourselves.

“Listen to your body: rest when you are tired, stop working when you are not productive… Keep in mind that you need to recover to perform, like athletes. We need time off to be productive during the week. That’s why weekends were created in the first place! It was Henry Ford, who realised that the employees in his plants were more productive on a five-day week than six. If your body aches, make sure you go see a professional as soon as possible too: your body knows when you are pushing slightly too hard.”

How can I take part in Leeds Wellbeing Week?

Lucile concluded: “Make sure you visit the Leeds Wellbeing website for more information on how you can get involved in the range of public events being offered during the festival. It is open to everyone, so why not experience wellbeing and try your hand at something new!”