What does your self-care strategy look like?
If it’s a once-a-year massage appointment, you know you can do better than that! In fact, self-care is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s a way to nurture a healthy relationship with yourself in more ways than one.
“Self Care in health refers to the activities individuals, families and communities undertake with the intention of enhancing health, preventing disease, limiting illness, and restoring health. These activities are derived from knowledge and skills from the pool of both professional and lay experience. They are undertaken by lay people on their own behalf, either separately or in participative collaboration with professionals.”
The five types of self-care include:
The pandemic made us all hyper-aware of how little we give ourselves necessary self-care. It also created a huge opportunity for individuals to slow down and try self-care as a way to cope with lockdowns. Now that many are heading back into the workplace, it’s important to maintain those habits.
Need to work on your self-care game a bit more or help your employees do so?
Here is a look at seven self-care strategies every worker can use to their benefit.
1. Deep Breathing
When your body is under a lot of stress, your breathing changes. If you’re feeling anxious and start to take shallow breaths, this can lead to inefficient oxygen levels as you take smaller breaths and use your shoulders versus your diaphragm. If you’re hyperventilating, anxious feelings can actually make physical symptoms of stress worse. Learning to control your breath can help you feel more comfortable and less anxious.
When to try it: Deep breathing exercises are excellent to do any time of day when you feel overwhelmed. If you’re going into a stressful meeting or phone call, try to take a deep breath or two. Sitting in traffic and running late? Try a series of breathing exercises to keep your calm to drive on.
After the last year, it has become evident how important human socialization is for us. By adding socialization events into your calendar, this self-care strategy can help you avoid the feeling of loneliness and isolation. Ensuring you’re adding quality time with quality people during your social events can help you elevate your spirits the right way. Setting boundaries and practicing reaching out to others is a great form of self-care for your social life.
When to try it: Haven’t seen a dear friend in awhile? It’s time for a lunch or coffee date. Consider reaching out to friends and colleagues beyond just a text. If you can do video chats and meet them in-person, do it! Find a balance that works best for you.
3. Meditation Time
At any time, anyone can start a meditation practice. Best of all, it doesn’t have to look the same as everyone else’s. Sometimes meditation means praying or journaling. Sometimes it means sitting in silence. Other times it might look like a walk in nature. Meditation is simply a time of quiet and peace where you can sit with your thoughts. It allows you to create space in your mind and learn how to be content simply by being.
When to try it: It’s best to try meditation when you have several minutes of uninterrupted quiet time. You can try it on your lunch break. Or it might mean taking a walk after an intense meeting to enjoy the sounds of nature. Do it when you can spend a few minutes alone and feel a need to break away and unwind from the stress of work.
4. Take Intentional Breaks
As stated above, meditation is a great way to take an intentional break in your work day. When working remotely, it can be easy to be plugged in and working 24/7 — even after you meant to clock out. Make it a point to take several breaks throughout the day. Many states have laws when it comes to work breaks, so make sure you’re taking advantage of them.
When to try it: Feeling like you’re stuck in a rut after a few hours of the same work duty? It is probably time for a break. Taking an intentional break will allow you to stretch and come back with renewed insight to tackling your work responsibilities.
5. Create End-of-Day Rituals
The pandemic made it difficult to distinguish boundaries between work and personal events. As a result, many workers quickly burned out because of their constant state of being “on.” Make it a point each day to use an end-of-day ritual as a self-care strategy. Your body and mind will get used to this routine and you may even find yourself looking forward to it. Whether that means attending your evening yoga class right after work or cleaning up your desk before logging off, get into the habit each day.
When to try it: You can set up rituals for both the beginning and end of your day. In the morning, you may try reading a positive self-help book while enjoying your coffee. In the evening, it may look like putting on your favorite pair of cozy socks and reading a book before heading to bed. Do what feels good and helps you feel relaxed and ready to go into the next day with a good attitude.
6. Build a Solid Social Network
A solid social network can look however you want it to — in-person or online or even a mix of both. Your network might be full of childhood friends or neighbors. For other people, that might just be their colleagues. Whoever you count as your favorite people, make sure you keep in touch with them and stay connected. Sometimes that’s just a monthly check-in. But doing so shows you care and will often be reciprocated. Find people who fill you up with positive energy and support you in your goals to experience the power of a good social network.
When to try it: This self-care strategy is an ongoing one. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it type of self-care activity. You have to be intentional with reaching out to other people. Life gets busy for you and for others, so maintaining strong relationships relies on the power of good communication on a regular basis.
7. Disconnect From Tech
When it comes time to log off from work, really log off. Take time away on your scheduled breaks to put your computer on sleep mode. Unplugging — even for those few minutes for a break — resets your brain and allows you to reduce your stress. Taking a break from screens can also minimize eye strain, reduce headaches, and other health issues. It also gives you a chance to fully experience present-moment awareness.
Self-Care Strategies Are a Healthy Part of Life
Self-care is one area of your life that your body hates to ignore. If you let yourself get too stressed out, your body will loudly let you know — physically, mentally or both — that it’s time to reset.
Practicing daily self-care strategies ensures you don’t get to the point of burn out. Like your daily workout or even scheduling a doctor’s appointment, take the time to invest in emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, and social self-care practices.
Research shows that developing a consistent self-care plan can help you stay stronger mentally and physically. It’s not a one-size-all practice, so doing what works for you is important.
Above all, remembering these aren’t just at-home techniques but are also necessary for the workplace can help keep you balanced.