In branching out into nontraditional careers and working in very different ways we humans have in the past, self-care can be lost and it leads to a lot of different problems. Lately I’ve been thinking of it in regard to how properly taking care of yourself—and by that I mean making time for things like exercising, proper meals, de-stressing and relaxation, unplugging and straight up fresh air—can help you be better at your job.
One of my fave de-stressing activities, this pretty adult coloring book.
If self-care isn’t on your to do list, it should be
When work is super busy, self-care is generally the first to go. I blame this on the fact that self-care is not something people normally put on their to-do list. So you have this big list of tasks, but eating lunch, meditating, going jogging, etc., aren’t on it. Some people can manage without writing it down, but I’ve noticed that people with those workaholic tendencies (even me at times) really do reminders… Even if it’s just to eat lunch. Some things that I see as self-care are and try to put on my list are: meditation, walks, creative projects, journaling, jogging, breakfast, etc. Not everyone’s idea of health, but I’m drained, tired, and unmotivated when I don’t fit these elements into my life. Basically, I feel unhealthy.
how proper self care helps you professionally
1. It reduces stress. Most of our workplaces already have their fill of stressful situations. When I go out and get fresh air, either by going on a nice walk or by jogging (something I managed to avoid for about four years) I can feel my energy shifting. It’s really incredible. It’s not enough to say my mood is lifted—I have better ideas, feel like I can go and focus, and just feel so GOOD about myself. Identify those activities for you and your work life will improve.
2. It puts things in perspective. Focusing on other life-things rather than just work helps me because when I have to solve a problem or do something out of my comfort zone, I have an easier time realizing that it’s not a life or death situation, and that I’m in control. I think when we’re wrapped up in our jobs, we start to fall into that “work is my life” zone, where it really does feel like every decision will make or break you. It’s a dangerous place to be! You need perspective in order to be good at your job, and just be a better person to work with too.
3. It keeps you awake. 3 o’clock slump, anyone? I struggle with it hard working from home. Lately I’ve paid special attention to my work schedule so I don’t let lethargy overcome me mid day. Obviously a lot of this has to do with diet, but since I generally like to be active and hate sitting for too long, I can tell it weighs me down. There’s no way that by 3 pm I’ve done everything, so now I break for lunch and if needed a walk or change of scenery (such as trying a new café) before powering through. If you ignore these signs, you’ll feel exhausted and burnt out, and the quality of work will suffer.
4. You learn about yourself. One thing I’ve learned working from home (and you don’t have to work from home to benefit from these tips) is that I spend a lotttt of time solo. Many days I eat solo, do my workout solo, go on a long solo walk, etc. I’ve learned a lot more about myself—and thus my goals, desires, and needs—by incorporating these healthier habits. When I don’t incorporate them (and there’s been many a week), the week flies by without a second thought. Since a lot of self-care is about solo activities, this is a good time to decompress. Knowing how your personality affects your work is also important, so you want to stay tuned into this part of you.
5. You accomplish more. I’m sure there are 1,000 studies to back this up, and I’ve probably cited them before. At this point I’ll just say that from my personal experience (and Jennifer’s too!), it’s easier to get in that productive zone if I’ve covered the basics: exercise, water and food, a meditation or journaling sesh to look inward, and a nice long walk. Sure, there’s the occasional time I get carried away with fun self-stuff rather than checking off the to-do, but as long as I set a time I need to be back working by, I’m able to get a lot more done than if I sat cooped up at my desk all day, half awake and half motivated.
What’s your experience with self-care? What does it mean to you? Would love to hear!