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The Importance of Self-Care in the Workplace

I volunteered to write a blog about ‘self-care in the workplace’.

Seemed like a good fit – especially considering our company culture is one that prides itself on ‘the individual’. However, like most things in life – there was more here than met the eye. In fact, as I began drafting the content for this, it became apparent that perhaps I need a ‘how-to-guide’ as well.

You see, I’m a business owner…with three kids (one of whom I am confident is pursuing a master’s degree in the terrible twos), two dogs, a husband, and a quasi-functional social life. Okay – so my situation may be extreme, but I’m willing to bet you too have a full life outside of your 9-5 as well.

Today, self-care in the workplace is a mandate, not a luxury. In order to be our best selves for our colleagues and peers, we must develop strategies for integrating ‘self-care’ into our workplaces. All too often we find ourselves sacrificing elements of personal care for what we believe to be the betterment of a work product, timeline or other conceived objective. However, the long-term implications of consistent deprioritization of self-care are stress, anxiety, and frustration.

Since none of that sounds very good, let’s examine how we can integrate self-care into the workplace in deliberate and meaningful ways.

  1. Redefine Self Care: we often think of ‘self-care’ as a connection to yourself, with special attention to a physical sense of wellbeing. Yet, within the workplace, self-care extends to being attuned to how you can be the most constructive, authentic and effective version of yourself. By reframing this concept of self-care, we are better able to create goals and tactics which align with this definition.
  2. Change Your Narrative: can we all agree that the word ‘should’ is about as harmful as the word ‘just’ when it comes to additional tasks and priorities? Frankly, self-care can seem daunting and overwhelming without the additional self-imposed pressure of draining narratives. Self-care is not judgmental and therefore cannot cultivate under this type of rigidity. Instead focus on a deliberate intention to stay connected to yourself. (Example; how can I better support my colleagues with the positive contributions I will make?)
  3. Operationalize Self-Care: our industry is one of measurements and statistics — so who doesn’t like some good goals to keep us in check?

Through operationalizing our approach to self-care, we can create specific tangible measurements to help ensure consistency.

a. Be kind to yourself – things don’t always work out as we plan and it’s important to share the same kind of grace with yourself as you would a close friend.

b. Manage time and resources – every day we all receive multiple requests that require some expenditure of time and/or other resources. To prioritize self-care means to carefully weigh each of these requests to determine if they are in alignment with your self-care intentions, or whether they need to be addressed in an alternate way.

c. Positivity breeds positivity – surround yourself with the kind of people you aspire to be and limit your interactions with folks you find draining or negative. Simply put, good people bring out the best in others.

d. Celebrate successes – ever forget what you did yesterday? Last week? Last month? Yeah, me too – we are all victims of those lengthy to-do lists. But taking the time to celebrate successes can help you (and the folks you work with) feel invigorated, inspired and appreciated.

e. The 3 Rs: Recharge. Reboot. Reset. Not very many of us get the doctor prescribed 8 hours of sleep per night, which is why we must regularly prioritize downtime. For each person, that means something different but start by scheduling manageable chunks of time (whether that’s 15 minutes or a full day) to disconnect and exhale.

f. Give your workspace a facelift – it’s amazing how freshening up your workspace can improve your attitude and efficiency. Start small by straightening up and getting organized…and if you are feeling zealous, go ahead and add some inspiring artwork and a plant or two!

Self-care is an iterative process, and progress is often a jagged line. When you fall off the ‘self-care’ track, be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to be less than perfect and recommit to your personal journey of self-care.

Information in this post taken from Harvard Business Review article “6 Ways to Weave Self-Care into Your Workday” from June 19, 2017, written by Amy Jen Su. https://hbr.org/2017/06/6-ways-to-weave-self-care-into-your-workday

Erica O’Brien is a Managing Partner and co-owner at MINDset direct. Erica has been in the industry for over 20 years and enjoys working with organizations of all sizes to help them realize their goals and objectives.

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