How Wellness Visionary Dr. Weil Lifted My Team’s Spirit During A Crisis

Originally posted on Forbes.com

My company isn’t alone when it comes to the struggles related to COVID-19. Still, as a document management and workplace solutions company, at times it has felt especially rough. At imageOne, our revenue is heavily reliant on people physically being at an office. Fewer printed pages meant an inevitable drop in sales volume.

Once the realities of the crisis sank in, the leadership team came together for a marathon weekend of punching numbers and forecasting the potential financial impact of the pandemic. We all knew times would be tough. But we also knew that thanks to our core values and company culture that puts people first, we’d get through this challenge stronger than ever.

First, we had to focus on our financial health. It’s during times like these where our practice of open-book management, company-wide financial literacy, and transparency really shines. These practices both support the strength of our balance sheet plus offer the added bonus of building a team that fully understands our financials.

As a company that greatly values collaboration, this is invaluable. We asked our entire team to assist in every level of the decision-making process. Soon, we had dozens of actionable proposals, ideas, and strategies from innovative office products to untapped client bases—many of which have come to fruition and brought in new streams of income.

The team also organized fun ways to connect and support our mental and physical wellbeing while working from home. So far, we’ve held a lip sync battle, had a remote wine tasting, and hosted a Zoom newlywed game with a recently married team member, just to name a few things we’ve done together.

We’re continuing to encourage everyone to keep practicing our favorite healthy life habits—which we call the Simple Six—through video, online stretch breaks, and other social channels. Especially now, promoting self-care was essential.

And as an extra thanks, we wanted to bring in someone from outside of the company who had a unique perspective about these trying times. We reached out to Dr. Andrew Weil, a renowned expert of integrative medicine, a New York Times bestselling author, co-founder of True Food Kitchen and Matcha Kari, and past guest of my donothing podcast, to ask if he’d chat with my team for a special Q&A.

To our surprise and delight, he said yes!

For one inspiring hour, we had the opportunity to put stress and uncertainty aside to ask this wellness legend anything that was on our minds. We heard everything from easy relaxation methods to the impact coronavirus might have on business to his favorite foods and drinks.

We got to take our minds off work, focus on something positive, and come together as one (via the internet, of course). In the end, we all left feeling more united, informed, grateful for the experience, and energized to tackle whatever came next.

With so much wisdom gleaned from Dr. Weil’s conversation, I thought it’d be selfish not to share it. Here are some great questions from my team that Dr. Weil answered:

How can we reduce stress levels in healthier ways?

Just Breathe

“Breathing is the only function that you can do completely consciously or completely unconsciously,” says Dr. Weil. “The theory of breathwork…is that, by using your conscious system to impose certain rhythms on the breath, you can gradually induce those rhythms in the involuntary nervous system.

“You can actually change heart rate, blood pressure, and digestive function by working with the breath.”

The 4-7-8 Breathing Method

“There’s the 4-7-8 Breathing Method. It’s very simple, and the whole family can do it together,” says Dr. Weil. “I recommend doing it at least twice a day. It takes about 30 seconds. I do it in the morning when I get up, in the evening, while going to bed, and then any other time during the day that I feel like doing it or I feel anxious.”

He adds, “[The 4-7-8 Breathing Method] is by far the most effective anti-anxiety measure that I’ve ever discovered.”

Watch Dr. Weil demonstrate the 4-7-8 Breathing Method here.

Can the pandemic change how we connect, including in business?

More virtual connections

“I expect that more people will work from home afterward,” speculates Dr. Weil. “We’re becoming familiar with using Zoom and virtual teaching. In the past few years, when I’ve been traveling to give lectures, I was thinking, ‘I’d much prefer to stay home and do this virtually than fly across the country.’

“[I think] that’s probably a good thing. It seems very inefficient to physically travel…and we now have the technology to do it [virtually].

Fewer handshakes

“I hear people saying that handshakes will be a thing of the past,” says Dr. Weil. Before the 1918 flu pandemic, spitting was an acceptable cultural practice. Saloons had spittoons in them. After that, it was no longer culturally acceptable. Maybe things like handshakes will no longer be culturally acceptable either.

Am I addicted to caffeine?

Everyone is Different

“There’s a very broad spectrum of sensitivity to caffeine,” says Dr. Weil. “There are people who drink one cup of coffee in the morning and can’t sleep at night. There are other people who drink a pot of coffee at night and it has no effect. You want to find out where you are on that spectrum.

“I used to say I produced one miracle cure a week just by getting someone to stop drinking coffee, and that was everything from recurrent urinary tract infections to irregular heartbeats to GI problems to insomnia to anxiety. Strong coffee is a strong drug. Many people who use it are addicted and have a withdrawal syndrome if they stop.”

How do I know if I’m sensitive to caffeine?

“You stop drinking it and see what happens,” suggests Dr. Weil. “It’s amazing to see what happens. Typically [if you’re addicted], 24 to 36 later, you get a pounding headache. You can become fatigued. I’ve seen people incapacitated by this, and they are relieved instantly by having anything with caffeine in it. It usually lasts 48 hours, and then you’re through it.”

What is Dr. Weil doing to stay healthy at-home?

Cut down on the news

“I’m really limiting my intake of news—especially television news,” says Dr. Weil. “I recommend it to everyone. You must be very careful how much you let into your life. It can be a great source of anxiety, stress, and anger. It doesn’t mean to not be informed, but just pay attention to the effect it has on your mood.”

Try plant-based stress relievers

“Valerian is a very safe sedative and has been used for centuries in Europe,” says Dr. Weil. “It’s very good if you need to fall asleep. Cava is a good anti-anxiety agent. There’s peppermint tea for stomach distress. There’s a number of things that are inexpensive, safe, and really work.”

Keep up those healthy habits

“I’m trying to attend to my eating habits. Right now, many people are eating more than they would like to. They’re eating foods that they probably normally wouldn’t eat for some comfort and for stress relief. Be careful about that.”

Have some fun

“I am very delighted when friends send funny things like YouTube videos or movies to watch that make me laugh,” says Dr. Weil. “I think that’s essential right now.”

Want to learn more? Listen to the entire conversation with the imageOne team and Dr. Weil here and learn more about common health myths, why integrative medicine could change our health care system, how businesses are being affected by COVID-19, and more. You can also watch it here on YouTube. If you want to learn more about the Simple Six, download the healthy life tips here and listen to my recent podcast about it. I’d also love for you to follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter

Elisha GoldsteinElizabeth Boham Image