In recent years, social media has enabled the ‘self-care’ message to manifest in the form of ‘hygge’ (the danish lifestyle trend), pampering face-masks and #selfcaresunday instagram posts.
However, we at HappyMaven believe that self care is not only the practice of indulging in one-off activities during our precious and limited personal time, self care should be embedded in everyday behaviour and closely connected to workplace culture.
What is Self Care?
The Self Care Forum’s definition of Self Care is:
The actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.
Essentially, understanding and practicing everyday self care gives people greater control of their own health and encourages healthy behaviours that help prevent ill health in the long-term.
How can you practice Self Care?
Self care can be measured on a continuum, from pure self care, the sole responsibility of the individual, for example; making everyday choices to live a healthier life such as being hygienic, eating healthily and exercising regularly. The other end of the continuum is pure medical care, which is the sole responsibility of medical professionals.
When practicing everyday self care, individuals should consider physical and mental care as equally important factors. Most often, physical self care is routine, inbuilt from childhood such as brushing your teeth, however we need to consciously pay attention to a wider set of criteria, including care of the mind, emotions, relationships and time.
Employment rates are at an all time high in the UK with 76% of adults (16-64) in work, so encouraging self care within these environments seems like a logical place to promote and actively practice self care, leading to stronger morale, more productivity, less stress, and increased motivation amongst employees.
Three ways to practice self care in the workplace
Eat like you mean it
We understand that our working days can be manic and sometimes lunchtime creeps up unexpectedly. We’re all guilty of checking the clock and saying ‘How is it one o’clock already!?” It’s important to respect time to break and eat and look forward to removing ourselves from our desks and screens to enjoy food.
Eating provides the body with valuable time to unwind, relax and nourish. Tucking into a good lunch even triggers an opioid release in the brain, signaling feelings of satiety and pleasure.
The practice of preparing food is an added bonus, providing a screen-free ritual of creating meals.
Speak to colleagues, other teams and management. Practice self care by initiating open, communicative relationships at work. Not only may we learn something interesting, funny or new through conversations, but we may also find that opening up about an issue or challenge will result in a resolution or at least a plan of action to address it.
Help the brain to rest and rejuvenate by taking a short break every 90 minutes. Do something non-work related such as; making a coffee and having a chat or taking a walk around the block listening to a podcast, mindfulness app or simply by watching the world around us. Resetting the brain with regular breaks can provide major benefits on our ability to focus and create.
Check out 'Gone For Lunch: 52 things to do in your lunch break' by Laura Archer for inspiration of how to reset and re-energise.
Three Ways to practice self care at work and at home
Technology is key to most people’s work lives. Whatever our roles, from film editor to receptionist, most of our day can be spent in front of a screen. We understand that indulging in a little Facebook scrolling can be relaxing; scientifically speaking, it actually releases dopamine contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
However if this activity, in excess, is detracting from the job at hand, studies or relationships, it’s time to take a detox.
Begin with popping your phone on charge in another room in the evenings and enjoy undivided quality time with loved ones, without the blue light glow of screens and the constant feed of unsolicited content.
It's no secret that being praised makes people feel good. The simple recognition of an achievement activates pleasure centres in the brain, not only making the recipient feel rewarded, but also resulting in feelings of motivation, contributing to innovative thinking and creative problem-solving.
Here’s the catch.
It’s easy enough to celebrate our coworkers or friends and family’s wins, but we must also celebrate our own wins. Take the time to reflect and consider; what have I achieved today? This week? This month?
Take pride in your own achievements and allow your dopamine to flow.
Recognise (lack of) Self Care
It’s equally as important to be able to identify when we’re no longer taking care of our mental and physical wellbeing. In a fast-paced environment, it’s easy to neglect self care practices and let the slide to burnout take over.
Start to rebalance your wellbeing by saying ‘No’. If you’re at capacity and feeling overwhelmed, speak up and confidently decline.
This can be applied in the workplace if your to do list is turning into a scroll, or at home when you just need a few hours to yourself. With a lack of self care, we’re at risk of making poor decisions, self-sabotage and burning out. Being able to identify and manage this balance is key to sustaining a positive self care routine.
Discover more about how HappyMaven can instill a self care mindset into everyday workplaces to promote wellness and create a constructive, happy and effective team, by getting in touch with us for a free consultation.
To go further:
Is self care selfish? Watch our last video here
Read our 5 easy ways to practice self care at work for Yahoo Finance