When we think about the act of self-care, we tend to associate it with behavior that happens in our off hours like taking a bubble bath or practicing yoga. No matter what industry you work in, practicing self-care in the workplace can be extremely difficult to do. There are emails that need to be answered, phone calls and meetings to take, assignments to work on, team members to train, and dozens of other side tasks. Doing all this and more every single day can result in skipping lunches, overstimulation, and leaving for the day feeling drained rather than accomplished. You may even wonder if it’s worth it to try to take care of yourself while you’re on the clock.
It’s tough to remember to check in with yourself when it feels as though your first, and only, priority should be work. As a CEO, I know this feeling firsthand. But, I also know there are dangerous side effects that come with working on autopilot and pushing your needs away as something to get to later. If you’re ready to practice self-care at work, and I mean really act on it each day, here’s what you need to do.
Be present for 10 minutes
Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe conducted a TED Talk in 2012 called “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes.” During his speech, Puddicombe reflected on the power of doing absolutely nothing for 10 minutes each day except for experiencing the present moment.
It’s highly likely that throughout any given workday, you do get at least 10 minutes of downtime where you can be perfectly still. It’s also highly likely that you spend this time doing something else like scrolling through your Instagram feed or listening to a podcast. Power down everything around you, including your thoughts, and simply take that time to be. This allows your mind to hit refresh and recharge from within which can make a big difference in how your workday plays out afterward.
Take it slow
We live in an age where everything, and everyone, is moving too fast. We should respond back to emails as soon as we receive them, churn out our workload quickly, and be able to immediately grasp new concepts at the drop of a hat.
What we don’t take into consideration as much anymore is the learning curve. Everyone has a different style for leaning into learning and there is an increasing expectation that one size should fit all. Speeding everything up goes well beyond the workplace, too, with journalist Carl Honoré noting at TEDGlobal 2005 that moving this quickly has a negative effect on our lives and the lives of those around us.
Pause for a moment to take stock in every element of your day where you move exceptionally quickly. How does it make you feel afterwards? Do you feel as though you were able to do your best work or really connect with the place you were in? Or did you just wanted to get something over with so you could move on to the next item on your agenda?
Once you clearly identify the spots where you want to start slowing down, start doing that. Slow down to the right moments, as Honoré says. When you do this, you are able to start doing everything better.
Express yourself through a stream of consciousness
Some days are tough, to the point where you feel like yelling at everyone for absolutely no reason. Others have you caught in a rut, feeling as though you can’t do anything right. Expressing yourself is key to letting these emotions out, but the biggest hurdle is figuring out how to do that and return back to your job in a better mood.
Why not let the feelings loose through a creative stream of consciousness? Keep a personal journal on you and write about how the day is making you feel. Draw pictures or write lyrics to your own song about the issues you’re facing. Nothing you write needs to be perfect or philosophical. Put pen to paper and let those feelings go until you feel like they’re out of your system. You’re likely to find that you feel a bit lighter in releasing those thoughts instead of keeping them bottled up inside. Some of the things that bothered you, when you reread them in retrospect, might not have been so bothersome after all either.