For most of us, our work life is a combination of sitting behind a desk and being out on the go. Maintaining a healthy self-care routine, no matter what the day throws at you is critical to ensure we can keep our energy level up and our stress level down. Once you find what works for you, keep it up. Self-care isn’t a periodic indulgence, it takes ongoing personal discipline to respect your own needs. Health, wellness, productivity and a better mood await!
Listening for, and tending to the needs of our mind and body helps us to renew our energy and refresh our mind and spirit. Here are some practical examples of self-care that may inspire you to find your own.
Start the work day off well with purposeful self-care. If it’s at all possible, endeavour not to rush around at the beginning of your day. Set your alarm to give you a reasonable amount of time to get ready. Use indulgent shower products that make you feel pampered. Sit down for breakfast (toast in the car doesn’t count) and avoid looking at your phone too soon because reading your emails and scrolling through social channels isn’t activity that gives us a feeling of peace and tranquility. These simple steps can help us get out the door in the right frame of mind to take on the day.
Manage Your Stress
Having no-stress days isn’t realistic, so let’s consider coping strategies as part of your self-care routine. Take a break when the pressure is getting to you. Do something different for a few minutes. Switch gears and get a quick personal task done, or call someone for a non-work chat. Get moving! If a 5-minute walk around the block is possible, do it. Take a break on the sidewalk outside, get some sun and breathe deeply. If you need to have a discussion with a colleague, walk and talk to get the circulation flowing and decrease your cortisol level. Do a few stretches or squats to give your energy a boost. Your blood pressure will thank you.
Checking in with ourselves to see how we’re doing and feeling throughout the day is important so we can recognize the signs of burnout and do something about it. Do you have headaches or intestinal issues? Are you feeling drained or overwhelmed? Does it feel impossible to stay focused and concentrate? These are all classic signs of burnout, but if we know to ‘listen’ for them, we can rustle up some self-care first aid. Maybe it’s time for a mental health day. Cut down on caffeine and alcohol (did I just lose you?). Whatever allows you to reset your mood and bolster your energy is in order!
Good business leaders understand the connection between acknowledging the good work of our teams and their work satisfaction, engagement and productivity. Giving employees a well deserved pat on the back is good for them and good for business. Why then do we often fail to do this for ourselves? Acknowledging our professional efforts and accomplishments gives us a psychological boost, helps us to see the bigger picture and feel more positive. Celebrate your work wins and incremental progress. We’re all doing our best, including you.
Enjoy a Daily Ritual
We all love having things to look forward to, and having an enjoyable daily ritual is a way to add self-care into your workday. A simple pleasure that makes you feel extra special, especially when it’s yours alone, can fuel your spirit. It could be enjoying your favourite beverage from your favourite coffee shop in the morning. Maybe you end each day writing two pages of the novel you long to finish. Perhaps it’s an 8pm stroll around the block after dinner or working on an airplane model with the kids. Think about something you can look forward to each day, and keep doing it.
Developing your own self-care plan is about being selfish in the best sense of the word. Be selfish and look after your health as best you can. Be selfish and get the rest you need and eat the food your body craves. Be selfish and say ‘no’ to people and requests that drain you. And while you practice these basic elements of self-care, feel good about caring for, and putting yourself first, because doing so isn’t an extravagance, it’s self-preservation.