How To Make Self-Care A Priority In The Workplace
Even in the later half of my 20s, I still find myself struggling with this thing called adulting. I still find myself kicking and screaming and protesting my way into my adult responsibilities. Five out of school and I still find myself struggling to accept that there are no more summer breaks, spring breaks, winter breaks or random holidays off. Work starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. and that’s about it. There are no excuses, and even in the midst of your slow acceptance that this is indeed your future, life does not wait for you to catch up. The pressures of life begin to pile up like the pile of paperwork that’s been accumulating over the course of the week on the corner of your desk. No matter how quickly hump day comes, it feels like you’re never getting over the mountain of work you have. According to a national poll conducted by the American Psychology Association, two-thirds of men and women experience significant stress at work. It was also revealed that one in four have confessed to missing work because of that. Your work responsibilities are important, but they should never be taken care of at the expense of your health. When it feels like that is what’s happening, that is when it’s important for you to stop and take a deep breath. Even though we openly express the importance of having a designated self-care day, preferably on the weekends, it’s also important to know a few self-care techniques to perform right at your desk or work space when things get overwhelming.
Set and Maintain Professional Boundaries
Jobs that are understaffed, startups, and small businesses will often tell you that you need to be a team player. That usually translates to “We know we need more staff, but we don’t plan on hiring since it’ll be more cost effective to just have everyone perform multiple job responsibilities.” While you do need to know how to productively work well with others in an office setting, it’s also okay to stick to your own job responsibilities. I mean, that is why they hired you in the first place, right? So if you work in IT and someone asks you to work with accounting, it’s okay to politely say that it is out of your area of knowledge and would be more of a burden than an opportunity for growth for you.
Balance Your Work Schedule
Work time is work time. Lunch time is lunch time. Breaks are for breaks. Use the time allotted for each wisely. Lunch and breaks are an opportunity for you to re-energize and decompress a little. Stress comes when you’re not just working during work time, but decided that you’re going to work during lunch and during your breaks, too.
It is also important to schedule each part of your day. Using the alarm on your phone can be very helpful in keeping you on track with your time management. It can be the tool you need to tell you when it’s time to stop, save and move on to the next task.
Take Self-Care Breaks
Some jobs give you breaks in the morning and in the afternoon after lunch. These are great, but you can also take additional three-minute self-care breaks right at your desk by turning your screen off and placing your phone on Do Not Disturb for three minutes while you do some deep breathing exercises and meditation. Incorporating some upper-body yoga techniques can help you recharge and relax.
Organize Your Work Space
One of the quickest ways to lose your mind is to sit in clutter for long periods of time. When your work space is unorganized and you can’t find things right away or you’ve lost important files and papers under a pile of more important files and papers, it’s time to do some organizing. Add some beauty to your work space with desk plants and pops of color. Make sure your work space is comfortable with the proper chairs and desk equipment.
Think Before You Agree
If you’re one of those employees who is eager to learn or if you’re one of those timid employees who is afraid to say no, it shouldn’t be a surprise when you find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of work you’ve chosen to take on. Keep in mind, a company is built and run by multiple people. If a duty is too overwhelming for you or if you know agreeing to take on a new assignment would be too much of a workload given the other tasks you have yet to complete, I guarantee there is someone else in the department who would be happy to assist or help lessen your burden.
You don’t have to save your self-care moments for the weekends when you should be carefree anyway. Self-Care days are much more needed during the workweek when things are getting real. If you integrate these strategies into your day to day, you won’t have to pray for hump day to hurry up or for Friday to slide through.