5 Tips for Practicing Self-Care at Work

Self-care is continuing to push its way to the forefront of the collective social conscious. It’s no longer something that we only practice behind closed doors in our own homes or at dedicated gyms and spas. It’s quickly becoming a standard for maintaining our overall professional and personal well-being.

A recent Gallup poll found that younger employees are more likely to experience work burnout on a fairly consistent basis than older workers. Gallup indicates that thirty percent of these young people often or always felt burned out at work. Approximately 70 percent claim they have experienced burnout at some point.

Gallup further determined that of those that experience frequent professional burnout were 63 percent more likely to take sick days. They’re also almost three times as likely to leave their current job. Contributing professional burnout factors include excessive workloads, nightmarish bosses and deficiencies of a work-life balance.

Regardless of the reason, no one wants to feel terrible at work. Most professionals spend about a third of their time at work so making this time bearable is undeniably important.

Here are five easy ways you can practice self-care at work to remain calm, centered and focused.

Equal Breathing

“Just breath” just might be one of the most common suggestions to relieve agitation and stress. But that doesn’t make it without merit. Breathing is important to our mental state and clarity. It’s also one of the fastest ways to regain some measure of emotional control and practice self-care.

Sama Vritti Pranayama, or equal breathing, can provide fast relief to your autonomic nervous system. Our body naturally regulates our breathing, digestion and heartbeat. Consequently, these processes are naturally affected when our body reacts to stress in our environment. However, breathing is one of the few of these processes that we can actually consciously take control over.

When you start to feel overstimulation due to stressors in your environment, start by sitting comfortably in a chair and take note of your breathing. You can do this with your eyes open or closed. Just take note of five breaths. Notice the texture and pacing – fast or slow, shallow or deep.

Then, on your next breath, inhale slowly to the count of four. Then hold your breath for a count and exhale slowly as you count to four and then pause for one count. Repeat this action for five to 10 breaths. When you return to your normal breathing, be mindful of any changes in your breathing patterns from before.

Get Away from Your Desk for Lunch and Breaks

This can actually be one of the hardest bits of self-care for most of us. You may have pressing deadlines, a shorter lunch break or bring your lunch. However, make it a point to never eat your lunch at your desk. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t actively working and simply using the space as a measure of convenience. When you eat at your desk, it affects your mindset and how others perceive you as well. When colleagues see you at your desk, they adapt a work mindset in their interactions with you. Also, when an email comes through or the phone rings, you feel like you need to respond immediately.

Setting boundaries is essential to self-care. Just simply getting away from your desk helps you disengage from work and reengage with the world. Connect with friends or go to lunch with a colleague. Leave your phone behind for a moment. Phone calls, emails, and texts can wait.

Face the Music

Not only does music make work move more quickly and enjoyable. A Journal of Consumer Research study found that mid-volume ambient noise or music can help focus your thoughts. Researcher and professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to this state-of-mind as “flow.”

Music can also help change your mood or shift your focus. When you’re feeling frustration, something loud and fast can help disperse some of that negative energy. Also, a soothing playlist can help calm you down.

Smart Mindfulness

Gamification apps like SuperBetter and Aloe Bud, as well as meditation apps, such as Calm and Headspace, can eliminate stress and help you to remain mindful of your mental and physical state.

Also, wearables like Fitbit can help you remain mindful throughout the day by reminding you to move every once and a while or to take note of your breathing. This way you are remaining consciously in charge of caring for yourself throughout the day.

Collect Happy Thoughts

We all have specific things that always bring us positivity in one form or another – from silly videos and memes to pictures of our loved ones and past acknowledgement for accomplishments. Try to collect these things together in a folder or an online bookmark so that you can tangibly take yourself to your happy place anytime you need a boost.

A lot of us don’t have time to make space each and every day for dedicated self-care. Consequently, it’s critical to actively integrate it into our daily lives so that we’re able to feel and perform our best.

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Rachael Crosby

This was great. Loved all the tips!

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