By Taj McNamara | Tuesday February 27, 2019
The lull of the holidays is over, the first few weeks of the new year are done, and now we begin the slope into what starts the summer and spring seasons.
This season of ‘new’ can bring both cheerier weather to some parts of the country (and the return of the A/C fight amongst coworkers) and some stress with time-off demands/covering vacations, kids out of school and higher activity levels outdoors.
So how do you prep for handling all of that ‘busy’ spring/summer and all that entails?
With work-related stress at an all-time high, it’s important that each of us learn to be our own advocate to self-support our productivity, creativity and efficiency. The sunshine and brighter days may lift your mood in some ways- but if you aren’t taking care of yourself, or ‘showing up’ for yourself- you may not feel the warmth from this seasonal change as you’d like.
But what does it really mean to show up for yourself on a daily basis?
Here are some ways that you can begin to incorporate this practice into your own life, starting right now.
Acknowledge where you are. One of the most important parts of self-care is simply acknowledging your present state without judgment. Don’t mistake proactivity with obsessive type-A-ness. It’s actually a way to make your life easier and your career more worthwhile.
Set aside 15 minutes first thing each morning to jot down the three things you hope to accomplish that day. Then, as requests come in, consider the impact on your priorities before offering a knee-jerk automatic yes.
If you are all the things that proactive people typically are—organized, prepared, problem-spotting and -solving, etc.—then you are likely coasting through work in a state of serene competence, which is actually a nice place to be.
Plus, building a reputation for being on top of your game not only makes your job more secure, it helps you build the momentum that makes your work pay off faster in the form of promotions and salary bumps come review time.
Notice negative self-talk, and make it constructive. You know that little voice in your head — the one that tells you that you aren’t good enough, or that you aren’t worthy of a certain accomplishment, or deserving of happiness? We’ve all experienced it — it’s a major saboteur of mental well-being.
Make an effort to say something kind, supportive, or encouraging to yourself — science shows that can improve self-esteem. Gain more mental clarity by cleaning up your desk. Put up pictures, artwork, or images that inspire you or remind you of the people and things that matter. Your workspace should feel like a reflection of your best self.
Create a personal mantra, and repeat it to yourself when you need a boost. One trick to kicking out negative thoughts and replacing them with strong, confident ones is to use a personal mantra. Pick one that inspires you while scrolling through Instagram or craft one of your own that makes you feel powerful and reassured. Studies have shown that repeating a mantra can have a calming and empowering effect.
Whether it’s making a cup of coffee or a quick chat with a coworker, start your work day by getting excited about something. It doesn’t need to be distracting from your work, but do something that lights you up. Think about something you can look forward to each day and do that thing, again and again.
Write in a gratitude journal. Keep a gratitude journal where you can write down what you’re grateful for and express appreciation to yourself for actions that serve your values. You can make this part of your morning or nightly routine, or simply use it as a guide to check in with yourself once a week.
Take stock of what you’ve accomplished on the job once a week or so—and congratulate yourself for your efforts and anything you’ve done to boost the bottom line or improve performance. Reminding yourself of your contributions gives you a psychological boost and helps you feel more positive, which is the ultimate goal of self care.
Carve out some time for yourself every day. Between work, daily tasks, family, and friends, it can feel like there’s not enough time in the day for everything you need to do — much less what you want to. But reserving a few minutes for yourself each day can help boost well-being
You’ve heard that inhaling deeply can help energize and calm you. Three times a day, stop what you’re doing and take three deep breaths to free the tension, stress, and worry that has been build throughout the workday. What makes this self-care move so good for work is that you can do it discreetly while you’re sitting at your desk, and even your closest cubicle neighbor won’t be disturbed.
Don’t neglect your needs physically. I have to remind myself to drink more water than coffee while I’m at work. For me, balance at work means that I have at least twice or three times as much water as coffee. I’ve made it a habit that if I am making myself some coffee, I need to have a large ice water or hydrating/non-caffinated beverage in my other hand when I come back from the Keurig. Don’t get another coffee after you’ve had your first morning latte- get water for the rest of the day. Make sure you’re bringing a water bottle to work and make it as easy as possible on yourself. It’s easy to forget about but it’s essential to your well-being.
Staring at a computer all day is hard on the eyes. If you’re able to, find some work-related activities to mesh in throughout the day. Even if it’s as simple as making a to-do list, it’s important to mix it up and give your eyes a rest.
Making sure you’re not sitting all day at work is ideal. If you can request a standing desk, go for a quick walk with a co-worker on a break, or get in a 10-15 minute exercise option- this kind of thing at work, and you’re interested, get a standing desk or even better, a treadmill desk. According to this Smithsonian Magazine article, there have been studies to show the benefits of standing desks. They can reduce the risk of obesity, cancer, and diabetes.
Whatever your self-care routine looks like, make your brain and body happy by setting aside some time for it every single day.