Posted: 14 Aug. 2020 4 min. read

Non-negotiable wellbeing; a Millennials’ guide to reduce stress during COVID-19

By Ryan Hopkins

Ryan is a Human Capital Consultant at Deloitte UK, based in London. Ryan is a self-professed wellbeing enthusiast and amateur stoic, who also loves all things fitness-related and is taking online Spanish lessons.

As a transformation architect in Deloitte UK’s Human Capital practice, I endeavour to make humans better for work and work better for humans.

A major part of human-centered transformation looks at embedding wellbeing at the heart of everything that we do. My own wellbeing is something that I prioritise, and I have a set of non-negotiables that allow me to do my best work and support the people around me to do theirs. Alongside my client work, I get involved in wellbeing wherever and whenever possible. This includes simply having a conversation with a colleague who needs support or developing Deloitte’s wider wellbeing strategy so our people can flourish.

What stood out most to me from the 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey was that, close to half (48%) of Gen Z and 44% of millennial respondents in the primary survey said they’re stressed all or most of the time. This statistic is rather shocking and only reinforces how imperative it is for organisations to prioritise the wellbeing of their people. However, it is not only the employer that needs to prioritise the wellbeing of  its employee, it is also down to each and every one of us.

I tend to always say yes to more work, or to another social event; often neglecting to consider my wellbeing thinking ‘I can always do it tomorrow’. This may work in the short term, but long term, this is not sustainable. If we do not look after ourselves first and foremost, we cannot look after anyone or anything else. Sometimes the world feels like a crazy place, and it can feel like you are just a passenger, unable to control anything going on. Sure, there is a lot going on that you cannot control; however, there is still a lot that you can control. These “controllables” can often be split into three categories: physical, mental, and spiritual.

The first thing I do each morning is make a coffee and take 15-30 minutes to sit by the window, enjoy the sun (a rare occurrence in London), focus on how my coffee tastes, and set out my intentions for the day – for example ‘today I will smile every time I enter a (video conference) meeting’. Just having that time to enjoy your morning routine and not feel the pressure of being online can be really grounding. I do not check my phone until I choose to; those emails can wait. I have complete control of the first 15-30 minutes of my day and it really sets the tone for the rest of the day.

If my diary permits, I will schedule a walk. If it doesn’t, I will take a meeting while walking, and if I cannot do that, I will go when the workday is finished. I always use this time to give my Nan a call and she tells me what she has been crocheting recently. No matter what time I go for a walk, it is non-negotiable that every single day I will do 10,000 steps. I find that focusing on the “controllables” makes me feel that I am in charge of my life, no matter how crazy my day has been.

When I finish the work day, I will shut my laptop, put my work phone in the drawer, and change my glasses (strange, I know). This all helps me draw an invisible line under my working day and begin my evening. All these practices have had a hugely positive effect on my life, and I will continue helping the people around me to find out what their “controllables” are and to re-prioritise their wellbeing.

Another point that resonated with me from the survey is that, nearly three quarters of respondents said the pandemic has made them more sympathetic toward others’ needs and that they intend to take actions to have a positive impact on their communities. From the day-to-day conversations I have with friends, family, and colleagues, I know that people don’t just clock in and out anymore. They need to know that they are contributing to something greater, to an organisation that has a higher purpose. Organisations that set out this clear purpose, will be able to positively tap into this collective mindset of the Millennials and Gen Zs and contribute toward the societal changes.

Millennials and Gen Zs hold the key to creating a “better normal”. Explore more about the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020.