Health and Work

Well-being has a huge impact on success at work. Can you be physically and emotionally healthy and hold down a demanding job?

Modern working life seems to make it tough to be healthy physically.

I’m struck by how many of my clients are dealing with poor-ish health. They’re often carrying minor health issues that haven’t been (or can’t really be permanently) ‘fixed’. They suffer from problems caused by sitting around in front of a screen all day, from long hours and the impact this has on diet, from emotional eating and drinking in response to the stresses and strains of demanding jobs, and from frequent coughs and sneezes.

And I write this, as it happens just a few days away from the shortest, darkest day of the year, when dealing with those health-related issues seems harder than ever.


I know these are all “first-world” problems really.

In the scheme of things, my bad back, caused by such a sedentary working day, is just a minor niggle. Yes, I can get a bit snappy and do tend to take the worry home with me if I’ve had a particularly stressful day. And yes, the coffee I’m chugging all day to raise enough energy to get through the afternoon does make me sleep poorly, but at least I’ve got somewhere safe and warm to sleep – it isn’t really such a big issue, is it?

Except it is a big issue really.

In a big picture sense, it’s an important issue because in the UK just those factors of stress, anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders account for around 20 million lost working days every year (HSE link).

On a more individual level, I think it’s also a big issue, because poor physical health and un-managed stress have such a huge impact on emotional well-being. And emotional well-being is the key to the self-awareness and good relationship-management that actually drives so much of our success (or otherwise) at work.

As Bruce Lee famously said:

You cannot poor from an empty cup.

If our physical and emotional reserves are low, our interactions with colleagues will be less effective and our work will suffer.


Not all of my clients are dealing with poor-ish health though. Some put a lot into maintaining their health and do it very successfully. And of those who do carry health conditions that will aways need managing, some manage them very well indeed.

My own health and emotional well-being seems to go up and down in long phases. I can have many years where I’m cycling or running regularly, eating healthily and living a well-balanced life, and then something happens to knock that off course and it might take a couple of years for me to get it back on track again.

I don’t know what the key to the physical side of all this is.

Having read about and trained with and followed a number of regimes, I still couldn’t say “Here are the seven steps to psychical well-being” with anything like certainty.

I do know that for me, changing things for the better has often involved quite small starts – deciding to go out for 20 minute walk at lunchtime no matter the weather, for example. Or just mentioning I was feeling physically drained to a friend resulting in an unexpected invitation to a long-distance bike ride – with enough time to train for it!

Actually, maybe those are part of the key:

  • Do something small; and
  • Reach out and ask for help.

What’s your experience been – how’s your health and well-being; does it have an impact on your ‘success’ at work; how did you change your health for the better?


My instinct is that this is such a big issue that I should reach out myself to a few people I know and get some more about this up on my website – watch this space.

As usual, please leave me a comment if they’re still open below, or tweet me @NickRobCoach. And be healthy.


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2 replies
  1. Peter Windatt
    Peter Windatt says:

    It was, I think, the Bruce Lee quote that hooked me in to responding…
    Having just lost my father (15/11/19) and since then had to help my mum into a care home (dad had been her carer for many years) I’m in a low phase physically and mentally right now. The Christmas break was a chance to re-charge the batteries but now the new year starts with avengance and there is a risk of being swamped once again. Fortunately, or not, January is normally a quiet month for us as the accountants who would normally refer are all tied up with Tax Return madness.
    I’m lucky to be both a martial arts and a RYA Sailing instructor – both “force” me to attend the classes/sessions I’ve committed to and both force me to concentrate on the present, irrespective of what I’ve had to leave at the door/on the shore. Having a 20 year old keen to take lumps out of you focuses you on what is going on. Not wanting a swiming lesson while supposedly sailing focuses you. Both regimes are great for taking you out of the workplace and into a new world if only for a couple of hours / a day in the outdoors. A gym really doesn’t appeal to me but I’ve learned more about martial arts since becoming an instructor and about sailing since doing the same; and that is mostly through the charity, Sailability, working with disabled sailors – all helps put the world back in order and priorities back in perspective. First world problems, as my children would remind me.

    • Nick
      Nick says:

      Thanks Peter – good to hear from you.
      I’m sorry to learn about your father’s passing.
      And your instructor roles sound like a great way to give back and be present at the same time.
      It’s all about that perspective isn’t it.

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