Wellbeing: A Matter of Life or Death

Anyone that has been following the progress of ART over the past 3 years will know how passionate we are about using science and data to support workplace wellbeing & performance. We firmly believe that wellbeing should be at the core of every business and involve a multi-department approach to ensure employees have the opportunity to maximise their long term health to the benefit of themselves, their families and the company they work for.

Our work to date has focussed on working with employees who are able to lead their lives in a way that would be perceived as “normal” by society. These individuals have many stressors caused by everyday activities or concerns related to areas such as work, family, or finances to name but a few. They are striving to be the best version of themselves whilst trying to juggle the pressures of building a meaningful career, being present for quality family time, keeping in regular touch with good friends, finding time to enjoy themselves and keep up with hobbies & interests, all of which are supported by good levels of health & wellbeing. Our products and services at ART provide data driven insights that help them to manage their wellbeing & performance in a sustainable manner that improves their overall quality of life and allows them to find a good work/life balance.

Up until last week that last paragraph would have been describing my life for the past 10/15 years as I tried to build for the future and continuously look to improve as a business person, father, husband, son and friend in order to get the most out of life. However, unfortunately this all changed completely last Monday 19th April based on three words uttered by a neurologist as I sat in a hospital ward by myself “……your test results show that you have Motor Neurone Disease…”. To say those words came as a shock is an understatement. I had gone into hospital a week earlier hoping to get some answers to an issue with weakness in my right hand that had got slightly worse over the past 10 months. A visit to hospital was the last thing I wanted as I was a fit and healthy 45 year old supposedly in the prime of life. However, needs must and this was the only way to finally get a diagnosis. One week and several tests later I was now faced with the news that I have an incurable terminal illness which will gradually deprive me of my mobility and then my ability to complete even the most basic of human actions such as eating or talking. Motor Neurone Disease is a Neurodegenerative Disease (NDD) which essentially means my central nervous system is unable to send signals to my motor neurones which are critical to be able to move limbs and control movement. I won’t dwell on how hard the last few days have been and the trauma of spreading this news to those that I care about so deeply, but put simply, I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy.

So what now? Well, I don’t know what the future holds or how long I will have full mobility and be able to continue to work in the business I helped to create and love being a part of. I can’t say for certain that I’ll be able to kick a football in the park with my children for many years to come or be able to enjoy a round of golf with friends much longer. Will I even be able to head out for a simple glass of wine and meal with my wife to help unwind from the daily stress of life? I simply don’t know and cannot begin to look that far ahead. What I do know is that my faith in science and data to measure, understand and positively impact my own body is still unquestionable. Now more than ever I will need to follow the advice that we at ART offer to our clients on a daily basis. I have to look at this holistically, consider every aspect of my life and understand what I can change to help slow down the progression of this disease as an absolute minimum. Ensuring that I prioritise sleep, complete daily meditation & breathing exercises, follow strict nutritional protocols and take regular exercise that is appropriate for the needs of my body are just a few areas that I have already focussed on and made changes to. More will follow, but only based on what my data is telling me, linked with the latest empirical research, to help guide every decision I make from now on. I’m very lucky to have access to a wonderfully knowledgeable and intelligent team at ART and across my wider network, who will help me every step of the way and ensure I follow the very best advice to support my wellbeing and give me a fighting chance at enjoying a good quality of life.

Finally, this news has served to further fuel my passion for enhancing workplace wellbeing through science and I am determined to play a prominent role in driving the expansion of ART and our products so we can positively impact more and more employees across the globe. Our goals and objectives have not changed but this has now become a personal battle for me to ensure employers realise that workplace wellbeing really is a matter of life or death and they have a responsibility to support & enhance it across every part of their workforce, from those employees who are flourishing to those with long-term illnesses.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I’ll be posting many more as I make my way through this journey but for now I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes which resonates with me today more than it ever has before.

“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day” Gayle Forman

Dr Paul Smith

Chief Strategy Officer, ART Health Solutions

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