Thanks to the global pandemic shining a spotlight on how fed up we are with physical and psychological burnout in the workplace, it seems like things may finally be shifting towards a better life/work balance.
“Seems” is the operative word. Just because 38% of middle-aged people have joined in the “Great Resignation” and favor working from home doesn’t mean we have the real cure for what ails us. Research shows we’re putting in an average of 2.5 hours longer each day, plus extra time on weekends and holidays. I know I joke about what a relentless taskmaster my boss is, and I work for myself.
If we really want to drop the unhealthy work habits, then it’s time to start considering physical, mental, and emotional well-being all day long — not just when you’re “off-duty.” Time to put self-care on your workday to-do list.
“Workplace wellness” has become a popular concept: even the CDC endorses programs for a healthier work environment. That’s not altruistic; it’s pragmatic. Stressed, overworked people are less productive and more likely to get sick, miss work, and eventually, quit.
Creating a healthier work environment wherever you conduct your business can’t just be lip service. Your job takes up about a third of your waking hours, so it takes a mindset shift to prioritize your well-being.
It’s not just okay to take care of yourself at work, it’s obligatory.
How’s that for a new kind of taskmaster? If you want to get better results at work, you need to get better at considering your well-being all day long.
Work at Self-Care
Self-care isn’t just a bubble bath, annual vacation, or occasional massage; it’s an intentional practice based on self-compassion and self-kindness focused on supporting better physical, emotional, and mental health.
So, what does this look like? Here are a few ways from each realm to help you get started.
- Sit up straight (shoulders relaxed and back, spine aligned).
- Breathe deeply and consciously.
- Take a break to take a walk.
- Use music to elevate your mood. (Bonus: Ambient music and binaural beats can help improve your focus, productivity, and creativity. I recommend Brian Eno’s “Reflection.”)
- Take time to build friendly connections with colleagues and peers
- Celebrate milestones and wins of all sizes.
- Set physical boundaries between work/home life — shut the door to your office and/or your computer.
- Learn something new: listen to a podcast, read an article or chapter of an inspiring book.
- Make a “small pleasures at work” list, and do at least one thing from the list daily.
If you care about your work, then get better at it by caring for yourself. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.