Taking care of yourself at work is so imperative to your overall health, and this is why. Work isn’t always fun and, unfortunately we don’t all have our dream job and all work does for us besides give us a paycheck, is stress us out hardcore! Following that come fatigue, tiredness, and eventually burnout. And I know you’re thinking you have all these deadlines, and so much on your plate, or so much is expected of you and your team, how in the world are you supposed to find time to “self-care” at work?
Self care doesn’t always have to be skin treatments and massages, or treating yourself to a nice lunch. It can also be the little things like taking an extra 10 minute break to close your eyes and breathe for a minute, or go for a walk to refocus. And yes I know every job is different with specific requirements and many can’t take the time to take a 10 minute walk. But there are base rules for almost every industry and these 5 things can make a world of difference wherever you are, and whatever your occupation is.
How do I know all of these things work and why am I qualified to give this advice? I was a single mom in one of the most difficult cities in the world, in one of the most cut-throat industries in the world where meeting standards often seemed almost impossible, even for me (everyone knows my standards are already past the sky). I was able to make it to the top in this industry and had my dream job. What every girl wants when they move to N.Y.C. to pursue their dreams, and these practices helped me get there without breaking down our burning out every other day. The proof is in the pudding! I’ve never understood that saying, but you get it.
- Belief: Many of us have jobs where we feel or think that we can easily be replaced, and overwork ourselves to prove our worth to the company, or whoever oversees us. This is another practice that will quickly lead to burnout. When you are confident in yourself and the work you do, it shows in your attitude and in the work you do. It will be significantly noticeable even as you walk down the hallways. You will do your best with a good attitude and flow through the week with a positive effect on your colleagues. Having this belief will allow you to do what you know you can do without having to overextend yourself or overproduce. And I guarantee you will be appreciated much more as well.
- Prioritize: We often have a long list of things to accomplish when the beginning of the work week comes around. Seeing this list can be overwhelming when prioritizing isn’t a common practice, especially if they are time consuming tasks. What has been proven to help is making a list before you start of the top 5 most important tasks to finish in order of number 1 being the most imperative. Make a mental note that you will have been successfully productive if you get the first 3 done that day (or by a certain time that day depending on the type of job you have). That way you will be successful and less stressed by accomplishing all 3 or better yet, knocking out all 5. Leading to a huge gust of confidence in yourself and your ability to do whatever your job requires.
- Learn to Say No: There is so much affliction and hesitancy when it comes to this one. Many people think that saying “No” will get you fired, or demoted, or disliked, or is considered mean. Luckily, I am not one of those people. But for those who are, this is something that will change the game for you. Everyone is busy, everyone has things to do that they are better at than others and if you have the time and ability to help someone, then yes it is a healthy practice to help your colleagues when possible. However, if you know you are busy already or overwhelmed, you must remember that by not saying “no” to others, you are saying “no” to yourself and your priorities/ list of tasks to accomplish. Your work matters just as much as theirs does regardless of what position they hold, and don’t let anyone lead you to believe otherwise. Now, saying “no” does not have to be rude or dismissive, but it also does not have to be an extensive form of art, even if you are in politics (and let’s be real, every workplace has it’s politics). It doesn’t have to be more complicated than what it is, letting them know you are working on some important tasks, and once you are done you are happy to help, but you are not available to do so at this moment. Or if your job is a little less formal, “I can’t right now, but I will later.” You will not only protect yourself and your job, but it also demands a certain respect and people will appreciate your help that much more, when you are able to. Stop thinking and freaking out about it, and just Nike it!
- Breathe: Some work days are more overwhelming than others. Some weeks more than others, and some months more than others. Even when putting the first 3 practices listed above, work is work and can still overwhelm you. When this has happened to me, my brain almost stops working and it’s like I’m in a haze just moving along through the day but not really being productive, or being stuck on a small task that otherwise would be quite simple to accomplish. What has worked for me in the past, especially with a previous history of anxiety, is stepping away from the crowd (I was in luxury hospitality) to a place where no one will find me or interrupt me, close my eyes and just take some deep breaths for a few minutes. That immediately lowers the stress around the particular task, and if it didn’t help as much as I would have liked, I would do a task that I enjoy first. Even if the other task is time sensitive, doing something I like releases endorphins in the brain allowing me to clear any fogginess and think differently. Which in the end allows me to finish the first task quicker than if I would’ve just stayed there in stress mode and tried to finish it that way. Try it, I promise it works!
- Influence Your Environment: Not many people are talking about how much of a difference this makes in any place where you are. And the reason it is last is because, if you do steps 1 through 4, you will be doing just that, influencing your environment and workplace. If you decide that you matter and are confident in the work that you do, prioritize correctly and accomplish, say “no” now when necessary, and take a minute every once in a while to breathe and refocus on something positive, your overall environment and mindset will have a significant positive shift! And if you have a desk, or an office, or just a small work station, you can also add little things that indulge your senses ensuring a much more positive experience. You can have pictures of your kids or loved ones, play calming music in the background, keep a squishy ball near, light a candle or just have a mini lavender oil ready for a quick sniff (take that as you will).
The senses are extra but definitely help. Putting these 5 activities into practice will elevate your overall mood, and flow into the other areas of your life as well. You will be less stressed, and in turn, much more productive and positive.