We’ve all heard of self-care ideas like taking a bubble bath, going for a nature walk or watching a funny movie. Those are great things to do at home, but how do we take care of ourselves at work? It’s generally frowned upon to nap at work or color an adult coloring book at your desk (depending on your line of work, I suppose). But there are some creative ways to integrate healthy habits into the work day.
It all starts with mindset
We aren’t all working at our dream jobs and even those who are will inevitably face some not-so-enjoyable tasks. To manage the stress and frustrations that come with those things, you really have to find something in the morning to set a positive tone for the rest of the day. I know someone who uses their morning commute to think about everything they are grateful for. Gratitude goes a long way. There is a sign posted at the employee entrance of my office that says, “Take responsibility for the energy you bring to this place.” It’s a great reminder to get my head right as I start my day.
Take care of your body
A huge part of self-care is tending to our physical bodies. What we eat has a powerful effect on the way we feel, on our attitudes, and on our ability to focus. Take some time to plan ahead so that you can have a healthy breakfast and lunch. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need to snack throughout the day to keep your attitude at bay (you know what I’m talking about). Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand, like nuts and fruit. And if you do nothing else, make sure you drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will help you maintain energy to get you through the day.
These don’t have to be long breaks at all, just enough to get up and move your body. For those of us with desk jobs, it’s really important to get up periodically throughout the day. If you’re drinking water like you should, you’ll have to use the bathroom more often – it’s a good excuse to get up. I’ve been known to take an extra moment in the bathroom to stretch and really counteract the impact sitting at a desk can have on the body. Adriene Mishler, of Yoga with Adriene, has a great 6 minute Yoga At Your Desk video that would be great to sneak in if your work space offers a bit of privacy. Taking breaks not only allows you to get some physical movement but it also allows your mind to slow down and de-stress. This is a great time to take a few deep breathes. Inhale slowly, closing your eyes if you can, and exhale as long as possible. Do this three to five times. It’s a great way to relieve stress, ease tension in the body and refocus.
Declutter your work space
Part of self-care is identifying things that stress you out and finding ways to adjust. When it comes to our work space, being disorganized and cluttered can cause major stress and anxiety. It’s important to find an organizational system that works for you. Keep a note pad close by to write things down as they come up, file things away when they’re finished to get them off your desk, and create a clear space for what you’re presently working on. Learning to prioritize tasks is also helpful. Designate some time every day to declutter and re-organize your work space.
I find it helpful to have one or two things in my work space that remind me to take care of myself. Whether it’s an inspirational quote, a photo of your family, or a tropical beaches wall calendar (my personal favorite), keep something around that makes you smile and helps you find ease in the midst of your work day. When things get hectic and stressful, it’s nice to have something calming to turn to.
These are just a handful of tools you can use to bring self-care to the workplace. Try them out and see what happens. Everyone is different and our work environments can be challenging. Take what works for you and toss the rest. Find something to get you through the day so you can get home and take that bubble bath.