Lifestyle: Self-Care at Work

Mar 2024 | lifestyle, resources, stress management, workplace

It’s easy to lose yourself in work till the extent that you lose track of what time it is, when you last took a break, and even when you had your meal. I remember so clearly during those work at home days, when the emails and tasks kept coming in, I had to be reminded that I hadn’t taken my meal yet, and it was already way past lunch time. Besides hunger and poor energy levels, it also meant that I was at danger of social isolation, as meal-times are often not just a chance to get a meal, but also a great time of interaction and fellowship with colleagues and friends.

It’s not only important to take a physical and mental break, it’s also good for us to keep connected socially, which does wonders for our morale and mental well-being.

Some of the useful tips I learned during those days are:

  1. Keep to a regular schedule. Yes, there will also be times where urgent stuff comes up, and we have to keep at it, even if it means missing meals. But its also important to learn how to prioritize, and keep to our regular schedules for breaks and meals whenever feasible, so that it doesn’t become a habit to keep going on and missing our break times. Taking regular breaks is not just good for us, it also good for our productivity levels, as it means we come back to our tasks with a clear head, refreshed with higher energy levels, ready to start again with a fresh perspective which can help us solve problems with a different lens than where we left off.
  2. Learn to prioritise. Not everything has the same levels of urgency. Learn which are tasks that must be completed, and which can afford to wait a little. A good analogy I learned early in my career was to think of urgent tasks like juggling balls. Some balls are made of rubber, if you drop them, they can bounce back up. Some balls are made of glass, and if we drop them, they will break and cannot be recovered. So the trick is to learn which are which. Some tasks if they are delayed or dropped, won’t make a huge impact, and we can afford to delay them a little bit. These are the tasks we can put aside and go home on time, or have a break and attend to them later. For those glass balls (urgent priority tasks), we need to attend to them with high priority, so that we don’t create a problem if we drop them. However, if everything is looking like a glass ball, then a conversation could be warranted with your supervisor to see if the workload is manageable and achievable.
  3. Recognize that self-care is good for productivity. Going the long distance of a marathon is different from a sprint. Just like long distance runners who carry energy bars and water, sometimes you need to sustain yourself along the way, so that you can make it for the long haul. Careers are the same , you need to take care of yourself so that you can last the distance. Trying to run a marathon in the same ways as a sprint, would mean that you would likely burn out early and drop out of the race. Instead, recognize that taking time off, taking breaks, and keeping to a healthy work schedule, ultimately gives you a better chance of a successful career.

Signing off,

Stanley, signing off

Self-care Tip #1

Going for short breaks like taking a walk in a nearby park, or having a relaxing beverage, can do a lot of take our minds off work for a few moments, so that we can recharge and refresh. Breathing and grounding exercise can also help us regulate so that we’re ready to start again after the break. Experiment and try to see what works for you!

Self-care Tip #2

Planning and keeping to a schedule is great for ensuring adequate time for rest and self-care. However, be prepared for disruptions when urgent tasks come up, and plan ahead what personal time can be given up, and what cannot be compromised, so that you can continue to have adequate rest and care.

Self-care Tip #3

Schedule in your daily break times, and regularly take leave to have a few days off to recharge. Taking regular time off is not going to compromise your work, and instead gives you better stamina to keep your productivity levels up!