“You need to take better care of yourself.”
How do you feel when someone says this to you? Over 90% of people report feeling irritated or annoyed by it. Mostly because we associate care with rest and idleness. And that’s not what we want to do when at work. Rarely does anyone stop and say, “oh, that must be true.” But, when someone says that, what are they noticing, that you aren’t? Maybe the fact that you have been neglecting your well-being. And maybe that self-care is not just about resting.
So, what is self-care? At its core, self-care is all about your relationship to self. As part of your job, it means that you’re attuned to what you need, to be most effective. Thus, rather than narrowly defining self-care as just physical health or rest (which is important), we need to pay attention to a range of things – care of the mind, emotions, relationships, environment, and time. Moreover, it is a personal experience. So, the question we invite you to ask when understanding your self-care practices, especially at work: what can support the positive contribution I wish to make?
We have some ideas to start you off with:
- Cut yourself some slack. In our pursuit of perfection and productivity, we end up becoming work machines, and often critical ones at that. But remember that you are as accountable for your well-being, as you are for your job. So, create conditions where you can reduce your self-doubts, and any other negative inner experiences you may have. This caters to your psychological safety. Research by Harvard Professor Amy Edmundson shows that your psychological safety decides your performance, your appetite for taking risks, your ability to collaborate, and build good relationships.
- Nurture supportive relationships. Not having good personal relationships with our colleagues, increases our chances of quitting the job by over 12%. That means it causes stress, and makes the work environment less inviting. Think about who supports your goals/ priorities? Which colleague makes you feel happy/ energetic, and who drains your energy? Invest in the better relationships. Ensure equal give and take. This not only helps you feel more engaged at work, but also prevents burnout.
- Celebrate the wins. Do you remember what exactly you did last week? Probably not. The way we are tuned, we jump from one task to another, one project to the next. But, if you want better well-being, pause and take stock of everything that has gone well in the past week. Acknowledge that you have succeeded in many efforts. Have little celebration rituals for yourself. This builds on your self-worth, and fills your cup with good energy.
Remember, these practices aren’t all-encompassing. Design your own – a cozier workspace, more short breaks, walking meetings, or digital detox Sundays. It’s all about what will help rejuvenate you.