“Self-care equals success. You’re going to be more successful if you take care of yourself and you’re healthy.” ~Beth Behrs
Do you ever feel like your job is taking control of your life?
Mine did, and it happened multiple times, despite making drastic adjustments to prevent it from happening again.
Twelve years ago, I was a consultant in London for 60 hours a week. I loved my team, and much of my work, but I wasn’t good at switching off.
A minor accident in the car caused whiplash, which led to a chronic condition of pain that got worse each day.
I didn’t think I was allowed to take care of myself at work. At work, I felt my focus should be on being productive, getting more done, being the best, getting promoted, earning more—on success.
But my definition of success wasn’t bringing me happiness.
My chronic pain had reached such an extreme level that I couldn’t speak with my beloved colleague for nearly an hour. It was then that it was time to wake up.
I thought I was a terrible manager, adding negative feelings to my constant, grinding physical pain.
I added suffering to my pain.
After a lot of soul searching, I took a sabbatical where I planned to “lie on a beach and rest.”
However, I brought my personality along. I never went back to my job, but within a few years, I’d created a new life, that I also loved, but I worked in 25 countries and took 100 flights a year.
I was also stricken seven times during that time.
My suffering became less when I realized the truth. Although I felt frustrated at the time, I developed a self care practice. I had more tools, more self-kindness, more self-compassion.
In addition to writing a book on workplace wellness and running an international consulting business, last year I was very busy.
It was my constant pain that had become so extreme, I decided to get help.
They decided to perform exploratory surgery at the hospital. The doctors discovered that I had endometritis. It was caused by a 6cmx4cm-sized cyst, and the infection spread throughout my entire abdomen. It took the removal of the cyst and a further eight days of intravenous antibiotics before they’d send me home.
I took some time off….
Now while I can’t say I’m never going to go through this loop again, what these experiences have taught me is that in order to be the best version of ourselves, it’s as critical to take care of ourselves at work as is it as at home.
It’s not just okay to take care of yourself at work, it’s obligatory.
Despite the fact our job often takes up a third of our waking hours or more, most of us feel it’s inappropriate to think about ‘fluffy’ concepts like work wellness, or self-care, while we’re working.
This can cause us to lose our kindness and anger towards ourselves.
Make an effort to be intentional
You will be a more productive employee if you bring a sense of self-compassion and kindness to your work environment. You’ll have more energy to work with the difficult customers and challenging employees, or on the complex and confusing tasks that are dumped on you.
Here are some ideas that you could try out at work in order to make sure you keep your body healthy. They’re small and easy to use. Leave those that don’t speak to you, but make the choice to include several in each week—and start today.
Easy Self-Care to Promote Physical Work Wellness
1. Clean your tech mindfully. Make sure to take three minutes and clean your screen, phone, or laptop. Take a moment to appreciate the technology that has made your life easier.
2. Stand straight.Everyone has a tendency of slumping over their keyboards. Reposition your body by bringing your shoulders forward and aligning your head with the spine.
3. One deep, slow breath. Only one. Make it long and deep. Imagine your breath coming out, and the earth bringing you down.
4. Plan a route.You should plan a quick (20 minute) walk that you can do during lunch and breaks, at least once a week. It should be added to your calendar.
5. Take a stand. You can lift the keyboard or screen with a box of books so that you are able to stand. Varietate your sitting and standing positions throughout the day.
6. Remember the smells. Find an essential oil or item that you can smell at your desk to energise you, like mint or citrus—especially useful in that post-lunch slump.
7. Get up!You should ensure that your lighting is adequate, natural and at an acceptable brightness.
8. Get up. Use the staircase. You can work at the 30Th floor, you don’t have to take every flight. You can take one flight per week and add more as you go.
9. You can add color. To work, wear one item in your favorite color. Wear a tie and pantyhose.
10. Pre-plan health. Choose three healthy options from your top three lunch spots. At least once a week, don’t even look at the menu, order one of those.
11. Go green.You can spend a few moments a day gazing at something alive and green. If you can’t see out of a window, get a plant.
12. Revert to neutral Two minutes is all it takes to clean the floor and clear away clutter at the end of each day. It will improve your morning experience.
13. Stretching while you sit.Straighten your legs and roll your shoulders forward. Point your toes at the sky with your hands. Your body should be moved in a positive way for at least a couple of seconds.
14. 20:20:20.To prevent eye strain, take 20 seconds to look at the same object 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
15. The object of solace.You should bring something that gives you comfort. A soft sweater, a smooth pebble, a stress ball—anything that grounds you in your senses and can bring you secret consolation on a difficult day.
For emotional work wellness, simple self-care
16. Select a music track.You can find a song to get you going before work, and listen on headphones! You can also listen to it on the commute, to get you into the right mindset.
17. Concentrate on the others.Ask your colleagues, suppliers, clients and other freelancers a few questions before talking about yourself.
18. Be vulnerable. Share something small about your personal life—a hope, fear, dream, wish, desire—with a work colleague. Ask about theirs.
19. Create connection. Invite a new person to join you for lunch or a cup of coffee.
20. Attention! Send a happy birthday message or congratulations to someone who has accomplished something on one their projects or tasks.
21. Get to know your brand. Write the following five words: Qualities, behavior, knowledge, and so on. Others are more likely to be associated with you in work.
22. Allow yourself to feel a little bit of emotional pain. Take an action you find mildly uncomfortable—talking more in a meeting, talking less, sharing a mistake etc. It will then be easier to do later when you don’t have a choice.
23. Enhance your relationship with your employer. Find someone you can get to know at work. You can increase the quantity and quality of your interactions.
24. Make a connection to a positive experience. You can choose a physical object to put on your desk. It should be uplifting because of the associations it has (e.g., an international coin taken from a holiday or a photo).
25. Celebrate. Before you move on to the next task, take a minute to celebrate your work success (privately or together with coworkers).
26. Establish a tradition in your workplace. Connect colleagues with “Pizza Friday/; or “morning-coffee-and-catch-up,” even if it’s through Zoom.
27. Take a look ahead. Always have something at work you’re looking forward to. If necessary, create it yourself.
28. Have a positive outlook Think of three things that make work great for you (a friend, a project, a client, a café you visit in your lunch hour), and write a list of these over time. Each week, include one.
29. The long view is the best.If you are upset by a mistake or an event, think about whether it will still be relevant five years later.
30.What matters? Take a helicopter view, and think about—what do I gain from this job? Is it worth the benefits? What is the balance of the reward and work?
For mental work wellness, simple self-care
31. You can use physical boundaries. Help your brain switch off via “thresholding” at the bookends of your day. Step through the door that leads into your workspace and tell yourself “I am at work’ “Step out of your workspace and tell yourself “I have left work.”
32. Find your core values. Note the most important things you do at work. Circle the three- to four best. You can use these as a guide for your decisions.
33. Get feedback. Ask five friends and family members to tell you what their top three strengths are.
34. One thing can be improved.Try a different behavior for a behaviour that doesn’t work.
35. Participate in a walking group. Discuss with a colleague if it is possible to do so while you’re outside.
36. Get unstuck. Use a timer when you are working on a creative problem. You can then write freely for 5 minutes.
37. Your perspective should be expanded. Discuss a problem you share with a coworker.
38. A timer is a good idea. Pick a task that you are familiar with and assign a timer to take 10 percent longer than the normal. The task can be completed in a shorter time.
39. Do something.Listen to a podcast or browse a few pages in a book.
40. Know where you’re going. Write down three steps that will help you get closer to your career goal. One action.
41. Get curious. Always have something you’re learning or developing relevant to your work—a book, course, discussions, professional development etc.
42. Self-talk from a distance You can create some objectivity by speaking to yourself with your first or third name.
43. Make a “small pleasures at work” list. List the most joy-inducing behaviors (e.g. smile at your friend), that you have. Every day, include one.
44. Find a good downer.Which one of the following activities do you find most difficult at work? How can you make this activity a little easier?
45. As much as you enjoy the result, take the time to enjoy the process.Although achieving a goal is a joy, the road to getting there can be tiring. So find ways that you can make it as fun.
Each day, we are what we do
The actions that we take most often make us who we really are.
If we’re going to be our best self, we need to keep self-compassion and self-care in mind at work as well as outside it.
Your work should be considered an integral part of your identity.
Get out of the loop. Take care of your health and well-being at work.
Take one of these ideas and give it a try today.
**Ellen has generously offered five copies of her new book, Your Work Wellness Toolkit – Mindset Tips and Journaling to Help You Thrive at the Workplace to Tiny Buddha readers. Offering 100 simple and super-effective exercises, Your Work Wellness Toolkit is a practical guide to nurturing yourself at work so you can feel calmer, more productive, and more energized, every day.
Enter to Win a Copy Please leave a Please comment belowIf you feel the self-care exercises mentioned above resonate most with your feelings, please share it. Email the following link to your commentEllen email@example.com with “Tiny Buddha Giveaway” in the subject line.
Entry deadline is Friday, February 18, at 12 midnight PST. She’ll choose the winners at random and contact them soon after!
About Ellen Bard
Ellen Bard’s mission is to help you be your best self at work and in life. A Chartered Psychologist, she’s published two books on self-care, works with those who are too tough on themselves, and loves all things that sparkle. For the free cheat sheet: 5 Unusual Tips to Take Care of Yourself, click over to EllenBard.com.
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Tiny Buddha’s post 45 Self-Care Strategies for Physical, Mental and Emotional Wellbeing appeared first on Tiny Buddha.