When you read the term self-care, I’d hazard a guess that images relating to pampering, massages, manicures and the like are the first things that pop into your mind. But self-care is much more than that!
I prefer to define self-care as the care you need to give yourself in order to be the person you need to be in the world.
Self-care then is giving ourselves the care we need in order to be a leader, employee, parent, partner, son or daughter, friend and so on. Self-care is ensuring our needs are a priority, so we can fulfil our various roles the way we need and want to. And yet, self-care remains a hurdle for many of us and a sticking point for the majority of my clients.
Given we all struggle at times with self-care (myself included), I’m going to share some of my favourite simple hacks and tips for self-care in the workplace, to support you make self-care a priority every day.
1. Walk whilst you talk
Moving our body is one of the biggest ways we can look after ourselves.
And the best way to do this when we are in work environment? Choose to implement a walking meeting once a day!
Walking meetings are not new, but they are gaining in popularity amongst leaders and executives who are increasingly focused on their own wellbeing and fitness as well as that of their team. The link between good health, physical fitness and high-performance work teams has further enhanced the appeal of walking meetings.
Not convinced? New research shows swapping half an hour of sitting with half an hour of moving (for example, walking) cuts the risk of early death by up to 35%. Researchers found being active for an hour a day was the best for living longer but even 30-60 minutes a day of exercise improved your chances of living to 90 by 21 percent.
As well, walking rather than sitting for a meeting has been shown to increase creativity and problem-solving abilities. Plus, getting your body moving helps shift your energy so you can focus better when you return to your desk. Win-win!
2. Speak up
Whilst it may seem counter intuitive, doing something that stretches you out of your comfort zone can be a great boost to your confidence, which in turn enhances your well-being. By actively requesting to take on a project or work with a client that will challenge you, you can learn, grow and develop whilst also helping your career.
Accomplishing something that you were fearful of or nervous about can give you an enormous boost to your confidence. And when you feel confident, you are often more willing to take on additional new challenges. And of course, there is a terrific adrenaline rush when you’ve achieved something that took you out of your comfort zone!
3. Speak out
Similarly, speaking out when something is not right can also seem counter-intuitive to self-care. However, when we are faced with a situation where we know something is wrong and we do nothing about it, our personal integrity and values can feel compromised. In these instances, our wellbeing suffers because we are worried and plagued by thoughts about the particular issue. Therefore, to speak out about the situation and take positive steps towards correcting it is an act of courageous self-care.
4. Leave for lunch
I know how easy it is to simply grab something and then eat at our desk. We’ve all been there! And we justify this by telling ourselves we have too much to do and can’t a break. Or we kid ourselves that we will sit at our desk but not do any work, but then find we are instead scrolling through social media...
But by taking time away from your desk and heading outside for a walk at lunchtime you do more than just change the physical space where you eat.
Ideally we should aim to head to a local green space (park or garden), get some sunshine, stretch your legs and generally shift yourself out of the confines of the office. As research has shown that spending time in green spaces reduces the risk of heart problems, lowers oxidative stress and boosts our capacity to repair blood vessels. So, a regular lunchtime walk in the park is so much more than just a break from your desk!
Plus, being away from your desk and moving your body restores and recharged your energy we well as giving your eyes a break from looking at a screen. Finally, just like a walking meeting, by changing your environment, inspiration and problem-solving skills are enhanced! Taking a proper lunch break then has multiple benefits, in addition to enhancing your sense of wellbeing.
5. Know when (and how) to say no
Saying no is about respecting your own time and helping others to respect how you use that time also. Feeling overwhelmed by the end of the day is not an uncommon feeling when we are reluctant to say no. But it’s also less than ideal for our wellbeing.
Therefore, learning when to say no is a great self-care hack. But it can feel awkward saying no in a work context, as we can be concerned about how the no will be interpreted. In a previous post I shared some tips on why it’s okay to say no, and how to do it.
6. Mini meditation moments
Meditation lowers stress levels so is ideal for self-care at work. But not everyone is lucky enough to have a meditation room in the office, like we hear they have in Silicon Valley!
However, most of us have the two things we need for a mini meditation moment. When you feel yourself needing to calm down, or if you have a few minutes before your next meeting or appointment, you can make the most of the moment by creating a mini-mediation for yourself.
All we need is somewhere to sit, and ourselves.
Firstly, sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor and your back supported. If you can, close your eyes. If that feels awkward or would look out of place in your workplace, don’t worry. You can do this exercise with your eyes open or closed!
Next, take a big deep breath. Breathe in for count of 3, hold that breath for the count of 3, exhale for count of 3, and hold the exhale for the count of 3.
Repeat two more times.
This simple breathing exercise is known as square breathing and is ideal to use when you want to centre yourself and create a feeling of calm and spaciousness during your day. As a bonus, it’s one you can use at any time of day, in just about any situation or location.
7. Small space sanctuary
Outer order contributes to inner calm, and small touches of sanctuary can help with quick self-care. Whether you have your own corner office, a desk, a cubicle or are in a different hot desk each day, there are small things you can do to create moments of sanctuary in your work day.
Firstly, reorganise and streamline your workspace to only have those things you are currently working on out. Clear, uncluttered surfaces contribute to a sense of calm and sanctuary. That’s why we all love high end hotels or day spas - think of how you feel when you walk into a room where all surfaces are clean and clear, there is a sense of spaciousness and maybe the slight waft of a delightful fresh scent. Immediately calming right? Definitely worth making a few adjustments in your workspace then to cultivate a similar feeling. And, as an added benefit, you are more productive when the noise of clutter from other projects or clients is not distracting you from your current work.
Next, look to what you can do to make the space yours. A small desk plant? A motivational quote? An image of your loved ones or next holiday destination? A little personalisation can act as a touch point in a busy day, helping keep you positive.
And that wraps up my 7 favourite self-care hacks for the workplace. I hope these ideas inspire and motivate you to try bringing a little more self-care into your every day work.
Looking for more at work than self-care hacks?
Seeking more from your work than self-care can provide? I support women and men to feel clear and confident in their career and life, and would love to support you too. Simply book your 30-minute complimentary consult with me (via the blue button below) to learn how coaching with me could be the next right step for you.