At the heart of self-care is our relationship and connection to ourselves. As part of our job, it means that being in tune and understanding what we need to be our most constructive, effective, and authentic self. So, it’s more than physical health, it’s about paying attention to other key things, including our mind, emotions, relationships, environment, time, and resources.
Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can also help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems. They may also help prevent some problems from developing or getting worse. Self-care comes from an intention to stay connected to our true selves and our overall mission, asking ourselves: Who and what can support and aid the positive contribution I hope to make?
It’s important to weave self-care naturally into the course of our workday. Here are four tools that can work, although self-care is highly personal, so rather than being an exhaustive list, these ideas are meant to get you thinking.
Give yourself a break. We are often our own harshest critic. When the weight of accountability or perfectionism kicks in, ask yourself: “What would I say to a colleague or friend in the same situation?” By keeping your internal critic at bay, you can create the right psychological conditions to accelerate through periods of rumination or self-doubt more quickly.
Celebrate success. Most of us can’t remember what we did last week because once we’ve completed or deal with something, we’ve already moved on to the next thing. Instead, hit the pause button with yourself and your team to take a look back at a previous week, month or quarter, and name or write down what went well or what felt particularly satisfying. This kind of debrief can help you and your team stay connected to passions, highest contributions, and actions that actually add value.
Surround yourself with good people. Healthy and supportive relationships are a critical part of self-care. Notice who feeds your energy and who drains it. Set more boundaries with the drainers. Invest in those who inspire and support you and who understand what it means to have a healthy give and take. The same goes for your relationships outside of work. Don’t let work cause you to neglect the most important people in your life. Use breaks during the day, or perhaps your commute time, to call friends and loved ones, and carve out plenty of time outside of work to nurture relationships.
Recharge and reboot. Be aware of your energy levels. For most busy people, getting eight hours of sleep every night is (sadly) not realistic. But it’s important to at least try to refill your gas tank during the week, so designate a night to get in some extra sleep. It’s equally important to build restoration breaks into your workday. For example, try scheduling more walking meetings, or make a point of having lunch away from your desk with a colleague or friend.