Updated: Jul 26
Self-Care at work starts with small micro changes in our day that can grow into a healthier work-life balance. Here are Ten Tips that can make a difference in your day.
You may associate self-care with relaxing baths, hiking, or getting your nails done. All the things that energize, relax and refill your cup in your off hours. But self-care at work is an essential and often overlooked aspect of your work-life and overall wellbeing.
You spend a significant percentage of your waking times at work, and the demands of your job can often take a toll on your well-being. Making self-care at work just as important (if not more so) as self-care in your personal life.
So what does self-care at work look like? Here are ten tips for bringing self-care into your workday.
These ten tips are an excellent place to start.
These are my top 10. They become progressively more challenging, with the first four an excellent place to start.
Tips 1 - 4: If you’re already regularly integrating the first four into your day, move and find a practice you haven’t yet tried or practice with fluidity.
1. Take breaks
Taking regular breaks during the workday puts you on a path to prevent burnout. It also naturally supports higher productivity. You can take short walks, stretch, or step away from your desk to give your mind a rest.
It sounds counterintuitive to step away regularly and be able to get more accomplished, but it's not. There's a chain reaction that occurs when we take a break. The more refreshed you are, the better you feel, the more effective you are.
Plus, taking this bit of control of your time is empowering. Granting yourself permission to step away from your work and recharge leads to feeling less overwhelmed and more powerful. This boosts your creativity, productivity, and overall job satisfaction.
2. Practice mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness sounds so easy, but where do you start? Don’t have experience or success with techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or visualization exercises (especially at work). There are other ways you can be mindful.
Try something new, like sitting in another spot in a meeting, or go somewhere new for lunch. And improve how you feel as you go through the experience.
Giving your mind a chance to escape the worry and overthinking loop and observe your surroundings can help you stay centered, calm, and focused during stressful situations.
3. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water throughout the day can help you maintain energy levels and improve concentration.
Do you struggle with making this happen? Keep this in mind: stress and dehydration have a relationship. Water can help calm you when you’re stressed. Dehydration can generate stress. Eek!
Here's a simple practice to put into play.
Start your day with 12 oz of water. Then, set your alarm for four points in the day. When the alarm sounds, get up and have some water. You’ve just had 60 oz. of water. Cheers!
4. Keep healthy snacks on hand
Healthy snacks like nuts, fruits, or veggies can boost your energy.
While your taste buds may love junk food, your body loves clean foods. Having a stash of good-for-you choices helps you avoid the temptation of unhealthy options.
This is especially helpful when you’re stressed. Before you grab a snack, drink some water. Then choose a good option to keep your energy levels up.
BonusTip: Integrating all of these tips at once might have you asking, “So, how do I finish my work if I’m doing all these activities? Take a look at this video for an easy way to combine the first four.
The next three tips take a little more effort, but they can become second nature after a little practice.
Positive relationships with coworkers can help you feel supported and less isolated at work.
From regularly socializing outside work to grudgingly attending in-house employee events, our feelings about engaging with coworkers is a spectrum as do the ways you can create connections.
You can connect by simply taking a few minutes to chat informally with colleagues, collaborate on a project, or volunteer to organize team-building activities.
Connection is essential for our well-being. We spend too much of our time at work to ignore this basic human need.
6. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is one of the building blocks of our mental wellness. When clients are challenged to find the things they’re grateful for, I recommend starting small.
How was the coffee today, or the breakroom/zoom room chit-chat? Did you learn anything interesting? Is your plant thriving?
Find three things, and consider each for maybe a minute or two. Linger in the positive feelings they bring to you. You might find yourself naturally calmer.
Gratitude for the small stuff that you take for granted can be very powerful. It can help shift your mindset and boost your mood.
Meditation allows your mind to pause. If you’ve ever thought “I think to much.” Try meditating. Try it even if you haven’t had that thought.
There is an internet filled with fantastic resources. Try different meditations until you find one that works for you. I tend to enjoy visualizations. They help me clear my mind of the day's debris, but for others, simple meditations that have you follow your breath work like magic.
Try different types until you find one that works for you.
The following three practices are challenging for many people. We’ve been trained to put others, including our organization, in front of caring for ourselves.
8. Take mental health days
I encourage clients to notice when they feel overwhelmed, stressed, and unable to replenish before the next week starts to take a mental-wellness day—granting yourself time to do something that engages you in a positive, energizing or calming way. In other words, this is not a time to take care of your appointments or do another task away from work. It’s time to replenish and do something for you.
Prioritize tasks, set realistic goals. . . How many times have you heard this advice? How many times have you tried this advice?
9. Manage your workload
Prioritize tasks, set realistic goals, and seek help when you’re challenged by something new. If you have work delegated to you, seek clarification about the priority relative to other tasks, and share realistic goals for timelines.
How many times have you heard this advice? How many times have you tried this advice?
I often hear from clients they are met with “push back” on unrealistic deadlines and are told “It’s simple” by the boss.
My clients believe there is a code to the “it’s simple” message that reads “Get It Done.” But is that the case?
Clarifying the stumbling blocks with the person who can do something about them leads to three possible outcomes: your path is cleared, a change is made in the timeline, or a reprioritization of other tasks is made to accommodate the new work.
Of course, if the outcome is indeed “Get.It.Done.” Then you have a different type of challenge.
10. Set boundaries
As you grow your career or demonstrate your value to a new leader, it can be tempting to work long hours or volunteer to take on additional work.
For so long, that’s precisely what the experts advised you to do to “get ahead.” But doing so can have a reverse effect and lead to burnout and decreased productivity.
Set clear boundaries around your workday, such as committing to leaving the office at a specific time or avoiding checking emails outside work hours or a range of non-work hours.
This can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevent the adverse effects of overworking. I am a realist. This may seem unrealistic for some roles some of the time. But is this the case all of the time?
Look at what is reasonable and necessary to manage a crisis or seize an opportunity. Set firmer boundaries if your daily schedule looks like you are constantly working in crisis mode. If you are not sure how, ask for help out your approach to making your needs known.
"Making self-care a priority can actually improve your productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction."
Practicing self-care at work can be challenging. You may feel pressure to always be "on" or feel guilty for taking time away from your work.
When you feel this pressure remember, making self-care a priority can actually improve your productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction. And besides, don't you deserve to feel healthy, happy, and fulfilled - both on and off the clock?
Self-care at work is more than just a list of activities or practices. It's a mindset that recognizes the importance of creating a partnership between your health and well-being and your professional life.
Self-care practices at work can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, reduce stress and burnout, and improve your overall well-being. They are foundational elements of thriving at work and in life. Give these suggestions a try or recommit to those that work for you and notice the change.
Interested in going beyond self-care and really thriving at work? Clarify your needs across multiple dimensions of your work life with The Soul Spot's Thriving@Work program. Once you are clear about what you need, you'll be supported in making it a reality.
Learn More about the Thriving@Work program here.