Actionable ways to bring self-care into the workplace
Self-care doesn’t always have to mean meditation and long walks in the park. Most of the time, it just means taking small, measurable steps to boost your quality of life. And spoiler alert: you can practice it at work!
Hot tip: Self-care looks different for everyone. Our recommendations are designed to get you thinking about what works best for you. As you’re reading, try to apply these tips to your everyday life, and consider whether or not it coincides with your working style. Don’t be afraid to experiment; there’s no “secret ingredient” to self-care—there’s only you, and what you respond best to. And with a bit of practice, dedication and self-monitoring, we promise your new #SelfCare routine will serve you well!
1. Understand the benefits of taking breaks
Long hours don’t necessarily mean increased productivity. In fact, research shows that productivity can take a massive hit if you’re overworked. And honestly, that makes sense, right?
Taking brain breaks throughout the day can help increase productivity while providing a chance to recenter yourself. By giving yourself a chance to breathe, you’re also likely to experience some fantastic benefits:
- Reduced stress
- Improved memory
- Increased energy levels
- Stronger immune system
- Better mood
2. Set reasonable boundaries
Being honest with yourself isn’t always easy. And communicating your professional, personal, mental and emotional capacities to others? Well, that’s even tricker. But it’s also a necessity. If you find yourself drowning in deadlines, it’s time for you to practice compassionately saying “No.”
Not sure where to start? Consider talking to your supervisor. More often than not, they’ve been through the same thing you have, and they probably have some great tips for setting boundaries in your specific organization. This is also an excellent opportunity to ask for help if you need it, or to calibrate expectations on larger projects.
3. Ask for what you need
Asking for what you need might seem simple, but how many times have you found yourself “powering through” something in isolation? If you don’t have the tools you need to get the job done, empower yourself to ask for them.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Do I have all of the context required to accomplish this task?
- Does this require expertise I don’t have? If so, should I involve someone else?
- After the task is completed, what then? What are my next steps?
- How will finishing this task affect other people or departments?
Depending on your answers, you might need some additional support. Consider reaching out to a coworker, supervisor or subject matter expert for a helping hand. You might be surprised how quickly they jump to your aid!
4. Stay ahead of stress
One of the best ways to take care of yourself is to nip stress in the bud. Now, full disclosure, this is easier said than done. But, like all good things, it’s entirely achievable with a little practice.
Some of our favorite ways to set ourselves up for a stress-free workday are:
- Organizing our schedules
- Taking deep, soothing breaths before large tasks
- Anticipating when to take a break
- Scheduling blocks of time where you close your inbox (We recommend giving your team a heads-up before implementing this one.)
- Reminding ourselves how to react to stressful situations
Unfortunately, stress isn’t something we can wish away; but we can learn to deal with it in a healthy way. It takes practice, patience and hard work, but it does get easier—we promise.
- Gina Richard