By Ildi Putnoki, Connect Psych Services
The power of making even one small change can, and the positive effects can flow through to all aspects of the working day.
We all know that feeling of a sense of place that feels safe, welcoming, and nurturing: the workplace is no different.
Acknowledging self-care practices is itself both selfish and selfless.
Calm, resilience, and tenacity can be contagious
It could be something as simple as taking that extra 5 mins to savour a cup of tea/coffee
To take 5 mins to be in the present
To remember to make room for alternative perspectives
To remember to have fun and humour
To work with you rather than against you: your body mind and spirit
In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments, it’s easy to prioritise professional responsibilities over personal well-being.
- What does the “personal” in well-being bring to mind? It can be easy to buy into a prescriptive self-care lifestyle change, the notion of an all-or-nothing approach?
- Research has shown the converse to be true: the power of the micro conversation, the small changes, when become habit, yield huge benefits. The momentum achieved from making one small change at a time, aligned with your values: what matters to you to live the meaningful life you want to
- When self-care becomes a “to-do item” pushed further and further down the list, it may impact our physical health, mental well-being, and overall job satisfaction
Recognising the importance of identifying and sustaining good self-care is crucial for achieving a healthy work-life balance and maximising productivity.
Understanding Self-Care in the Workplace
What can “Self-care” mean? It can be very individual, encompassing intentional activities that nourish and rejuvenate aspects of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The first step is to notice, recognise and acknowledge our needs, and then take intended steps to meet them. While the workplace often presents challenges and stressors, practicing self-care within this context is essential for maintaining optimal performance, and preventing burnout.
The Importance of Sustaining Good Self-Care in the Workplace:
- Enhanced Well-Being: Prioritising self-care in the workplace improves overall well-being. Taking time to rest, recharge, and engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation can reduce stress levels, increase happiness, and enhance mental clarity. When we care for ourselves, we are better equipped to handle work-related challenges with resilience and positivity. It is often said “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and we so often try to provide from a cup half full. What if we were to ensure the cup is full to overflowing, and give from the overflow”
- Increased Productivity: Contrary to popular belief, working longer hours does not necessarily equate to increased productivity. Taking regular breaks, engaging in self-care activities, and establishing boundaries actually improve focus, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. By allocating time for self-care, we replenish our energy reserves and maintain sustained productivity throughout the workday.
- Stress Reduction: Workplace stress can take a toll on both our physical and mental health. Incorporating self-care practices such as mindfulness, exercise, and relaxation techniques can effectively manage stress levels. These activities promote a sense of calm, help regulate emotions, and reduce the risk of burnout. By managing stress, we can maintain a healthier work-life balance. What works for one, may not work for another, and that’s ok. There is room for all possibilities. For a self-care practice to become fluent and integrated, it needs to be realistic to the individual.
Practical Strategies for Workplace Self-Care
- Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Define specific work hours, avoid checking emails after designated times, and create a separation between professional and personal spaces. This helps prevent work from encroaching on personal time and allows for dedicated self-care activities.
- Prioritise your Breaks: Take regular breaks throughout the workday. Step away from your desk, stretch, and engage in activities that promote relaxation and rejuvenation.. Use this time to disconnect from work-related tasks and focus on self-care activities such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or a brief walk outdoors.
- Nourish Your Body: Pay attention to your physical well-being by maintaining a nutritious diet, staying hydrated, and incorporating physical activity into your routine. Pack healthy snacks, prioritise regular meals, and find opportunities for movement during the workday, such as taking the stairs or going for a walk during lunch breaks.
- Practice Mindfulness: Cultivate mindfulness in the workplace by focusing on the present moment and engaging fully in each task. Incorporate short mindfulness exercises throughout the day to reduce stress and increase focus. This could include mindful breathing, mindful eating, or brief moments of gratitude and reflection.
- Engage in Activities That Align with Your Purpose: Make time for hobbies and activities that bring you joy and relaxation outside of work. This could involve pursuing creative outlets, spending time with loved ones, engaging in physical exercise, or simply engaging in activities that recharge and replenish your energy.
- Seek Support: If work-related stress becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek support. Talk to trusted colleagues, friends, or mentors about your challenges and concerns. Consider reaching out to employee assistance programs or seeking professional help if needed.
Sustaining good self-care in the workplace is crucial for maintaining overall well-being, increasing productivity, and reducing stress levels. Remember, self-care is not selfish; it is an investment in our long-term health and happiness. Make self-care a priority in the workplace and reap the benefits of a healthier, more balanced work-life experience.
Ildi Putnoki is an Acredited Mental Health Social Worker at Connect Psych Services. She is passionate about providing therapeutic support when navigating “the in-between” of grief and bereavement and provides focused counselling to adults who are adjusting to life-changing events, primarily through loss. Experience includes working with persons impacted by elder abuse, and postvention counselling for bereavement after suicide. My other passions include art, music, photography, walking and dogs, and growing my practice to include art/animal therapy.
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