Want Wellbeing? Be a SPACE(R)!

My friend Vic Strecher has a simple acronym to help us remember elements of physical wellbeing: SPACE.

Sleep. What was the quality and quantity of your sleep last night? Stop looking at digital screens or having alcoholic beverages too close to bedtime. Make sure that the room is darkened, and a comfortable temperature. Don’t allow your pets in the bedroom.

Presence. Is your mind wandering today, or are you focused on what is in front of you? Monotask. Put your phone in airplane mode. Meditate. Go forest bathing. Our attention is a muscle that gets tired with overuse, so take micro breaks (and longer vacations too).

Activity. Will you get your 10,000 steps today? Walk, run, stretch, play, strengthen. Try to sweat every day. Get that heartbeat up. Do a seven-minute workout.

Creativity. What was the last cool idea you had? Doodle. Daydream. Envision the future. Ask yourself a question and see how many answers you can come up with. Play Bananagrams, Scattergories and other fun games that make you use your brain. Use Lumosity and other brain stimulating games.

Eating. Are you getting enough protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, and limiting your processed sugar intake? Have green smoothies for breakfast (kale, peanut butter, protein power, banana, strawberries, pineapple, chia seeds, almond milk this morning – yum). Choose a salad for one meal a day. Carry a water canteen and healthy snacks everywhere.

In On Purpose, Vic lays out lots of evidence in a fun format to help us understand the importance of these factors — combined with being connected to a sense of purpose — in us living long, healthy, happy lives. Vic’s company, JOOL Health, has a neat app that helps you track these dimensions of your life. It helps you make targeted interventions to boost the areas that will make the most difference to your wellbeing (based on your data), when you most need them.

There is lots of research to consider adding another dimension: Relationships.

Multiple studies suggest that having meaningful relationships are a vital ingredient in living longer and happier lives. Sarah Pressman’s 2015 study showed poor social relationships being a bigger determinant of early death than smoking, drinking, or obesity. The Harvard Study of Adult Development over an 80 year period found along the same lines.

Given how much time we spend in organizations, our workplaces have a big role to play in helping us live longer, healthier, happier lives. Even just short interactions – high quality connections – can make a big difference in the trajectory of your day. As can spending more time with those you find energizing, and less with those who suck your energy away. So go ahead, take that emotional risk and make friends at work. It’s good for you. And, it’s good for the organization too.