Self-care is a growing concern among employees and people in the workplace. It is healthy to recognize the importance of taking time to unwind, destress, and relax. Who wouldn’t love taking a little extra “me” time? Even more than that, though, it is vital to understand what self-care is beyond a trip to the spa, a day to rest, or treating yourself to an evening of eating out. At the heart of self-care is the idea that mindfulness of your own needs must be honored and attended to. It allows you to take care of yourself so that you can help take care of others.
So why exactly is self-care so essential to our functionality as workers? Research has shown and proven that practicing self-care has advantages such as higher productivity, decreased chance of burnout, improved physical health, and the ability to give more. With benefits such as these, self-care should be encouraged and taken more seriously. In the past couple of years, the idea of self-care has grown to be a topic that most people are aware of, but awareness is only the beginning. For self-care to truly, positively affect workers and their wellbeing, there must be action taken to ensure that this comes to pass. Even if it is for a short-lived amount of time, the intentionality of implementing self-care habits and routines into your lifestyle will help you in becoming more prepared to take on the next day.
For most, it is a common practice to come home from a typical day on the job, exhausted. If it is not from a job, then something else can easily and quickly suck away the basic energy and physical strength needed to continue functioning properly. Whether it is raising a family, going to school, or just merely living (that can be draining at times, too!), your physical body needs a time to stop overworking itself and enjoy a period of physical rejuvenation.
Whether it is dancing around the house to your favorite tunes, going for a walk or bike ride around a local park, or going to the gym to stay fit, make time to allow your body the exercise it craves. The options really are endless, so get creative with it!
Eating healthy, for many people, has a somewhat negative connotation to it. It is much easier, cheaper, and accessible to consume junk food and sugary drinks than it is to be mindful of what the body truly hungers for. New recipes can make healthy living an adventurous event rather than a boring burden. If you enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen, why not give it a try? If you’re not a fan of the kitchen, consider this as an opportunity to explore restaurants that offer healthier, more balanced meals. Who knows? It could turn out to be a favorite of yours!
The amount of rest time that is needed varies for everyone, but seven to nine hours of sleep is the recommended amount for the average adult. Some thrive with more, some with less. Adhering to bedtime is an excellent practice to ensure that sleep is prioritized. Sometimes, a good night’s rest is not enough, though. Short naps can also help refresh the body, so nap when you need to! Twenty minutes is the recommended amount of time for an effective nap; anything over that can cause more lethargy. Say “yes” to slumber!
Also, routine visits and exams with a primary care physician and a dentist fall under the physical self-care category. Staying hydrated, upkeeping personal hygiene, and knowing your physical limitations are also valuable to note.
Emotional self-care implies self-compassion. Though the word seems pretty self-explanatory, self-compassion is defined as extending compassion to oneself in instances of inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. It implies three components, according to Kristin Neff, a pioneering self-compassion researcher – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
This means instead of self-judgment, be gracious to yourself. No one said you have to be flawless, so form healthy expectations for yourself by recognizing that failing and being imperfect is inevitable. Be gentle and patient with yourself! Instead of becoming critical, be understanding and, well, kind! When the reality of imperfection is accepted, it leads to greater emotional composure. If you wouldn’t treat someone else in a critical, disrespectful way, why is it okay to behave towards yourself like that?
All of humanity is experiencing the same thing that you are, and recognizing, even embracing, the fact that every human is faulty is what defines common humanity in this context. It is easy to isolate, feeling as though you are the only one to be struggling or suffering. However, the reality is that you are not alone. Rather than pity yourself, remember that the very essence of the human experience is mortal imperfection. We are all in the same boat, in one way or another.
This is a word that is tossed around a lot, especially in the psychology world, but is rarely defined clearly. Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you are sensing and feeling, without interpretation or judgment. This must be a balanced approach, however. The negative emotions must not be denied or repressed but cannot be overexaggerated either. In other words, be real with what you are feeling, and don’t be scared to express it.
Mental self-care involves the process of decluttering your mind and reducing stress levels, so naturally, when life gets busy, this is usually the first one to be put on the backburner. The happenings and “go, go, go” mentality can easily overtake and overwhelm a person. Especially in America now, the need to stay busy is a widespread belief that seems to be instilled in all of us. It is almost as if mindful, intentional rest is a thing of the past. Doing life, in general, requires an immense amount of mental energy – on the job, in school, or at home responsibilities only add to brain overload. Brain overload eventually leads to burnout, so mental self-care mustn’t be taken lightly. Here are a few ideas on how to practice mental self-care.
Journaling what is happening in your life has a therapeutic effect on many people. It is comforting and encouraging to write about the different events that transpire and put into words what you experience day-to-day. Also, a tangible journal allows you to go back and read your past entries, which helps you comprehend your growth over time.
Consider having a day to go device-free. The effects of constant texts, alerts, and social media on devices are distracting and have the potential to take a toll on your mind’s health over time. Instead of watching YouTube videos, go outside. Rather than surf the web, read a book—exchange binging Netflix for peaceful meditation. Put down the controller and play a card or board game. Simply enjoy silence and purely exist.
A significant way to increase trust within yourself and a positive self-image is speaking truth to yourself. It doesn’t have to be aloud, though it can’t hurt to speak positivity into existence. You could write them down on a mirror or paper that you can see, too. Positive self-talk examples include:
Humans are social creatures by nature. We need the presence of other people to thrive. Call up a friend on the phone or initiate a video chat, get a cup of coffee with a coworker, do a fun weekend activity with a group of peers – whatever you do, interact with a person you feel safe around. If your mental needs dictate it, consider a therapist. It is not shameful to need extra support in coping and externalizing how you think and why. Either way, it is good to seek out people who actively listen and offer unconditional acceptance. By appreciating and applying these self-care tips, you will be able to wake up each morning and seize the day, ready for whatever life throws your way!
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