Love in the time of CORONA: A 4-step approach to great well-being

With nearly half the global population transitioning to working from home, and a growing percentage of people facing potential job losses, how do we ‘keep our act together’, remain in ‘good spirits’, and most importantly ‘love ourselves’?

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Is there a difference between wellness and well-being?

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While used intermittedly, wellness and well-being are characterized by distinct differences. In particular, well-being relates to a whole life experience, whereas, more often than not, wellness is interpreted as being in good physical and mental health as a result of ‘deliberate effort’.

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As a result, well-being includes wellness.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a broad-based definition of health that incorporates the essence of what well-being is as “an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life […] it is a dynamic process of change and growth […] a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

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We will be using this interpretation for the purpose of this article.

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Where do we start?

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Like the pursuit of happiness as depicted and portrayed in the biographical movie adaptation of homeless parent, Chris Gardner, interpreted by Will Smith in 2006, well-being is a state of mind, a way of life, a reason to be, rather than a tangible objective.

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Similarly, when considering well-being, we need to look at this from a holistic point of view. We do not live, work or socialize in isolation of our environment, and therefore need to take account of external factors that may characterize our understanding and interpretation of well-being. 

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Some of the elements considered when assessing individual or public well-being include the presence or satisfaction of certain basic, economic, physical, social, developmental, emotional, psychological, professional and life fulfilment aspects.

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While the list may not be complete, it offers a rounded view into how people and society look at what makes them feel good, satisfied, fulfilled, accomplished, safe, happy.

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It also provides us with information on why we may feel anxious, stressed, fearful, unsafe, isolated, depressed when these ‘conditions’ are not met.

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Human Motivation

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There is much relevance and correlation with Abraham Maslow’s 1943 work on human motivation. Whether or not he intended them to be represented in a pyramid, Maslow posited an initial theory of psychological health based on the progressive motivation to fulfil 5 ‘priority needs’ that would culminate in self-actualisation.

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These are:

  • Physiological,
  • Safety,
  • Love,
  • Esteem and,
  • Self-actualisation.

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Over time, as he continued his research, the 5 became 8, adding: cognitive, aesthetic and transcendence to the list (see image).

Credit: Simply Psychology


While both models are depicted in a seemingly rigid bottom-up framework, Maslow understood that this is not always the case. Motivation is based on both individual interpretation and external considerations. Furthermore, our behaviour can be ‘multi-motivated’ and not based entirely on the pursuit of a single specific need but could be determined by a number of needs.

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What does all this mean?

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Maslow’s hierarchy is a motivational theory that tries to explain what actually motivates people to behave the way they behave. In principle, when these needs are not met, motivation spurs us to act in a way that we fulfil these needs.

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The ultimate objective is reaching transcendence. Given our starting point to this article it is about keeping in mind the bigger picture.

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What does transcendence or the bigger picture look like for you?

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In a previous article we shared our thoughts on the value of ‘purpose’ in leadership, the essence of which lies in the centralisation of our motivations and behaviours to a deeper-rooted set of values and principles.

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During times of uncertainty, difficulty and the unknown, our purpose will help us stay focused on what we need to do to remain aligned with our personal ethos.

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Where do we go from here?

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Below are some of our tips to keep your well-being in focus and remain motivated while working from home.

For a more holistic approach we have listed our tips under the 4 elements of our own FIRE model leading to a more fulfilled life.

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Flow (Psychological well-being, mental stimulation, focus, resilience, clarity, physical well-being)

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  • Eat consciously. Drink water, limit alcohol. There are a number of ‘super foods’ that can help maintain mental lucidity, reduce fatigue and limit the amount of sugars released in your system that can affect your concentration and physical condition. Cook. Avoid as much as possible pre-packed foods. Explore cooking with online courses or family. It’s a great way to create new memories, while tasting good.
  • Train. Design and follow a fitness regime that suits your body type, level of fitness and interests. Use this time as an opportunity to try something new and stimulating.
  • Routine. If you need your daily routine, then set it just as it would be if you were not working from home. Maintain your boundaries between work and home. Clock off at the same time you would typically.
  • Focus. Practice continuous periods of concentration. Complete a jigsaw puzzle, paint, draw, read uninterruptedly.
  • Sleep. If you felt sleep deprived before, try to get the rest you need. A rested body is also a rested and more focussed mind. The important factor is to get good rest. At times, less means more if it means deep, uninterrupted sleep rather than  protracted, light and restless sleep.
  • Set clear objectives. Clarity is essential for us to focus. Without a clear idea of what is expected out of us, noise will start to inhabit our thinking space and distract us from what we seek to achieve. If you do not have clarity, GET IT.
  • Be Mindful. Your emotional well-being is critical for you to take better decisions and regulate your behaviours and actions. The better you understand your emotions, especially during uncertain times, the easier the process to regulate them. Self-care comes through self-awareness. You can also be mindful while having your morning coffee or during your daily exercise routine. The key is to concentrate entirely and solely on what you are doing.
  • Switch-Off. Take the time to disconnect and reflect. A 15-minute break here or there could help to regain focus. It helps bring clarity and perspective.

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Impact (emotional strength, confidence, strong sense of purpose, social consciousness)

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  • Define your purpose. Write your own value statement. What do you stand for? This will help you remain focussed on what matters most and what you can control to achieve a fulfilled life.
  • Self-care. Take care of yourself. If you have family, you need to be strong and healthy in order to take care of your loved ones and fulfil your role.
  • Care. Look out for others and your environment. Acknowledge what those around you need. Take care of your immediate environment. A healthy space (whether living space or home office) is a positive and hopeful space that can inspire.
  • Share. Exchange your experiences and knowledge with friends, family and co-workers to BE the person you defined in your value statement. Give to charity.
  • Connect. Physical distancing does not mean social disconnection. Reach out and work on those relationships that matter, while also seek opportunities to create new ones.

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Roles (relationships, role modelling, commitment, accountability and responsibility)

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  • Step Up. Remote leadership requires you to bring your A-game to the table. Your co-workers will be looking to you for reassurance, for answers, for motivation and inspiration. Take the opportunity to be bold and challenge. Crises can provide the bedrock to creating new opportunities, building new ways of doing things, and discarding with convention.
  • Look the part. It may take a little extra effort, but it’s well worth it.  Especially when you walk into a room with confidence because you feel good about the way you look.  This isn’t about being the beautiful person in the room; it’s about feeling the part you need to play.
  • Be present. Calm the chaos. Do not shy away in anonymity remote working affords us. Make sure you look for opportunities to be seen and noticed. Carve your space and use your skill sets to define how others see and relate to you.
  • Think, act positively. As a Role Model you need to embody the persona with which you take decisions, behave and act. The way you think will influence your behaviours, your outlook and the actions to take. It will also determine the type and level of objectives you seek to achieve. Stay Positive.
  • Communicate. As a leader, as a role model, as a friend, parent, sibling, son, daughter, colleague we need to ensure we do not add further confusion or reason for misinterpretation in the absence of physical proximity. Our communication skills need to level up in order to help everyone understand our realities, our context, and the meaning of our message. Remember, meaning resides in the recipient and we therefore need to communicate more effectively to avoid misunderstanding.

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Excellence (growth, development, fulfilment, effort)

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  • Read more. Read better. Sharpen your mental saw. Learn a new skill or refine an old one. Use only reputable sources and limit social media. Regulate your news exposure to once a day. Seek positive material.
  • Maintain standards. You will live up to the standards you set. Crises are not times to slack, but to showcase the level and quality of your work, relationships notwithstanding the difficulties you face.
  • Control.  Power is nothing without control. Make sure you are the architect of your own present. While you may not be able to control everything, you can always control everything in your power. As Maya Angelou says, “If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you feel about it.”
  • Go for quick wins. Achievement releases Dopamine in our system which helps motivate us to continue and pursue other objectives. By setting clear, shorter, smaller, more achievable objectives we can determine the effort we need to end the day feeling fulfilled or not.
  • Ensure consistency. Behaviours are formed after dedicated effort of a period of time allow us to ‘automatically’ perform at the levels we expect of ourselves. Your behaviours in such a manner that are conducive to fulfilling your purpose.
  • Reality Check. Look back at your day. Check whether your purpose, behaviours and actions were aligned. Identify the pitfalls and rectify tomorrow.

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Think Positive, Act Responsibly, Communicate Regularly

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As a final thought, the best way to take care of yourself, keep the spirits high and show ourselves the love we deserve, our mindset needs to be forward looking. One that is powered with positivity.

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As a result, our behaviours and actions become responsive to, and responsible for the results we achieve. Ultimately, we need to speak out, louder, with more intent, clarity, regularity, consistency and, using more hopeful language. Give yourself the credit due for a job well done, share what your success looks like and help yourself be your own inspiration towards greater well-being, by loving yourself more emphatically.

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Everyone at UP Ltd would like to extend their continued gratitude to all those working in the interest of public health to bring the COVID-19 situation under control. UP Ltd is offering FREE support to Health workers, members of the Police Force, Civil Protection, Armed Forces, NGOs and Volunteers helping throughout the pandemic via virtual sessions. Get in touch to find out how we can help.

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We appeal to all readers to heed the advice of the professionals and ensure our actions, even unintentionally, do not cause harm to others in the process. 

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To assist those who may require support, UP Ltd is also providing a free 30-minute virtual consultation on how to remain on track during these times and can be contacted via email on [email protected] or via www.maltatogether.com

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