Last Updated on October 20, 2021 by Lori Geurin
The idea of self-care seems to be a pastime, a luxury only available when all else has been taken care of. But even when you’re caught up in the daily grind, it’s important to check in with yourself. As Former First Lady and mental health advocate Michelle Obama says, “We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to-do’ list.”
Self-care is more than just a luxury, it’s a way of allowing yourself to perform to your fullest potential. Finding ways to take care of your wellbeing throughout the workday, can help boost productivity and can have a positive impact on you both personally and professionally.
Here are six ways to improve your self-care at work.
6 Strategies for Self-Care at Work
1. Keep an Organized Space
The first key to taking care of yourself is taking care of your space. An organized workspace is a benefit to your wellbeing. You can’t technically declutter your mind, but you can declutter your space.
The less stuff that is surrounding you the fewer distractions there are. It’s also much less stressful when you can put your sole focus on exactly what is in front of you and not be overwhelmed by other to-do’s, or random objects in your line of sight.
There are several things you can do to decorate, while also optimizing your workspace. A calendar, planner, or some form of a time management tool is a great way to stay organized and give yourself structure, especially during times of high stress and pressure. Inspirational quotes, pictures that lift you up or remind you of positive memories, and a color scheme that brings you joy, are all great ways to decorate your space.
These little things can serve as a tribute to your personality and your needs and provide a customized touch that is inviting and comfortable.
Your desk furniture will also help you to tend to your physical needs. A proper chair and table set-up is important to maintaining healthy posture and preventing pain. It may be helpful to keep in mind that your long-term health is worth the investment in quality pieces.
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2. Take Short Breaks
The workday can get stressful and tiresome. When you’re starting to feel stress get to you, it can be helpful to take a small break. Breaks throughout the day are a way to check in with yourself. Taking the time and space to walk away and recharge is actually a way in which you can validate your emotions and listen to your needs.
It’s tempting in today’s hyper-productive hustle culture to power through the day non-stop, and it can be too easy to think poorly of yourself if you struggle to keep up. Regardless of its prominence in our lives, maintaining this lifestyle and mindset is just not healthy, and it will only cause adverse effects. There’s no shame in setting aside five minutes to refresh and rest in between a full tasked workday.
To make the most of these breaks consider using the time to practice meditation or breathing exercises as a way to decompress. These activities have the ability to keep you grounded in the present, and can counteract negative feelings before they overpower.
If the opportunity arises, take advantage of any chance to get outside and breathe some fresh air. If your job keeps you indoors all day, a change of scenery, sunlight, and fresh air can especially provide the inspiration and motivation you didn’t know you were missing.
3. Try Simple, Yet Effective Exercises
Whether it’s during a break or while you’re working, there are small effective exercises you can do to move your body and loosen the stiffness that can come with sitting in the same spot for hours. Giving yourself some time to increase your heart rate, support circulation, and strengthen your muscles has long-term benefits.
When the day gets busy, finding a designated time for a workout isn’t always easy, but a shorter workout at your desk is better than nothing at all. With the added benefit of the mental stimulation that comes from working out, exercise is another way to recharge throughout the day.
If you don’t want to do whole exercises at your desk, don’t be afraid to just get up and take a quick walk. Whether it’s around your house, around the office, or outside if you can go, getting up and moving can change your whole day for the better.
Stretching is equally as important, especially considering how tight and stiff your muscles can get from sitting all day. A good stretch has long-term benefits on both physical and mental wellness. Some of these include helping you feel less stressed and decreasing tension, while also improving range of motion, relieving certain aches and pains, and improving posture.
4. Choose Healthy Food Options
A nourishing and nutritious diet is another great way to take care of your well-being through the workday. Healthy lunch options or healthy snacks promote a positive mindset that allows you to feel assured you are doing at least one beneficial thing for your body and mind. There are direct benefits from this that can combat workday woes like fatigue, lack of focus, stress, or headaches.
Staying hydrated throughout the day also helps with mental alertness and other physical symptoms. Be sure to drink enough water and fluids during your workday. These healthy decisions combine to promote a frame of mind that you yourself are a priority and deserve to be taken care of well, no matter what else has to get done that day.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Self-care is about being intentional and purposeful in giving back to yourself. The practice of mindfulness allows you to harness your energy and your focus. It keeps you present at the moment, allowing each task your full attention and best performance. A wandering mind is a stressed and overwhelmed mind, and mindfulness is one way to combat that.
You can approach anything with an improved mindset by setting intentions for the day as a whole as well as for each individual assignment that has to be completed. Intentions can boost your energy and connect you to a motivator that helps get ahead of feelings of burnout or being stuck in a rut.
Time management is also a preventative measure to help navigate stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Tips like using timers to keep you on task and on schedule are a great way to stay on top of the day and hold yourself accountable.
If you need additional help, try using noise-canceling headphones or playing music. For some, a quiet workplace can be peaceful and productive, while for others, music helps keep up energy levels and boost their mood, improving their productivity. As an added bonus, you can have fun trying new things to find the best possible solutions for you.
6. Recognize Gratitude and Optimism
Your frame of mind is a powerful tool. It may not always feel like it, but it can also be the one thing you can regularly control. Check in regularly with your perspective and feelings. It may not be joyful all day, every day, but you can actively seek out joy in little things throughout your day.
This small and intentional change can make a big difference.
Similar to setting intentions each day with mindfulness, consider trying to practice optimism with the larger picture to connect your work to a bigger purpose. If you can find a purpose for what you do that is fulfilling and worthwhile to you, you can more easily give each day meaning and motivation.
Even if it changes over time, it’s another great opportunity to ground and center yourself no matter what you are dealing with at the moment.
Positive mindset shifts take time and diligence. To make these changes feel more tangible, consider writing them down. Jot down your thoughts, feelings, motivations, and purpose. Explore and define these concepts for yourself, and take note of their impact on your workday.
Another thing to write down is your accomplishments. Keeping track of what you’ve managed to achieve over time can be uplifting, confidence-boosting, and inspiring for the future.
Final Thoughts: Self-Care in the Workplace
As Deborah Day said, “Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.”
Self-care should be a continuous part of your everyday life. Even at work, small changes can make all the difference. Take time to bring out the best in yourself each day, you deserve it!
What are your tips for self-care at work?