Employee Wellness: 6 Ways to Practice Self-Care at Work
When you visualize self-care, what does it look like? You might think of activities you do during your free time such as eating a good meal, taking a long bath, hanging out with friends, listening to music, or just decompressing and watching your favorite TV shows. But have you ever considered practicing self-care at work? It might not be a priority for some of you, but practicing self-care throughout the day rather than after work can save you from feeling burnt out.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is often associated with what you do outside of work. It is prioritizing your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Self-care can vary from nutrition, hygiene, lifestyle, or health. Practicing self-care can improve your work-life balance, which effects your performance, motivation, and engagement, and can lead to higher job satisfaction, and less stress. As more and more people are working from home remotely, work-life balance becomes less balanced. You might work longer hours than expected and skip your breaks. Poor work-life balance can impact your happiness and cause you to feel emotionally drained, unproductive, exhausted, and unmotivated. According to the American Institute of Stress, more than 50% of workers are not engaged at work as a result of stress, which can lead to a loss of productivity. Additionally, 76% of US workers reported that workplace stress affected their personal relationships. Implementing a self-care routine can help prevent you from feeling drained and stressed.
Here are 6 self-care strategies for work:
1. Time Block Your Day
If you find yourself struggling with many projects or getting interrupted throughout the day, time blocking is for you. This time management method allows you to have a concrete schedule of what you want to focus on in blocks of time. This is a great way to keep you focused and prevent your colleagues from scheduling meetings during those times. Set some boundaries for your work productivity!
2. Take a Break
We all need some breaks throughout our day. Stand up, close your eyes, and stretch your hands over your head. Doing this movement will help relieve some tension in your muscles and body. You can also take a walking break with your coworkers outside or in the building. These breaks can make us feel more engaged and improve our concentration when we return back to our work. When you are creating your time blocks for the upcoming week, be sure to add breaks throughout your day.
3. Breathing Activity
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your schedule or stressed about deadlines, try this breathing technique to recenter yourself. First, breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, then hold your breath for 7 seconds. Next, exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat these steps 2-3 times and reflect on how you feel afterwards.
4. Organize Your Space
If you find yourself feeling distracted, try to clean up your work space. Give yourself a couple minutes to organize any loose papers on your desk. A study from the University of Arizona found that employees who work in a clean environment are up to 15% more productive than those who cluttered environment. Tidying everything will help you stay organized, reduce stress, and bring you more peace. (You can even add some pictures of loved ones or scenic views to your desktop to help boost your mood!)
5. Send a Sticky Note
A way to practice gratitude with your coworkers is writing encouraging messages to each other. For a future activity, you can write a short sticky note message to 5-6 of your closest coworkers. Sometimes we never know what someone else is going through, but writing these notes helps build a supportive culture during those hard times. If you are unsure of what to say, imagine how you would comfort a loved who is overwhelmed. Having these words of encouragement helps. Reflect and write some affirming notes to yourself and acknowledge the amount of work you do, too.
6. Recenter With Sweets!
Feeling anxious? Add a chocolate mindfulness meditation to your list of self-care! Switch up your meditation and add a small piece of chocolate to your routine. Eating chocolate is a type of mindful meditation that engages all of your senses. Practicing mindfulness can help you become aware of the present moment. When eating a piece of chocolate, pause and notice how you feel when it melts in your mouth. Does smelling chocolate trigger any of your other senses?
Not a fan of chocolate? Try sour candy! Sour candy can temporarily distract your brain from negative emotions because your brain focuses on the intensity of the taste, reducing the intensity of your feelings.
Taking time to practice self-care is not selfish. It is necessary for productivity and being a healthy employee. Take those breaks, set some boundaries, and have more compassion for yourself. Remember, self-care looks different to everyone. Find one that works best for you!
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Written by: Tiffany Leung, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
4. New York Gov