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Given the pace of business today, it’s hard to prioritize our well-being during the workweek. At best, we try to find time for self-care during the weekends or on vacation. But much of our lives are spent at work, where many of us are feeling disillusioned, uninspired or underutilized. If this describes your current work life, exploring new forms of self-care could lead you to a fresh start.
Self-care at work is a mindset shift and goes beyond making it to the gym, getting massages or treating yourself to a fun activity. Part of prioritizing your overall mental health necessitates that you create and maintain a fulfilling work life. Self-care requires that you actively seek to make your workdays better.
If your job has become grueling or your career feels off track, these daily shifts will help get you moving in a new direction.
Set Sleep Goals
Your sleep is more important than any other self-care activity. Without adequate energy, it will be impossible to work as your most aware and determined self. Yet the things that keep us from sleeping are numerous and often unavoidable. Going to bed earlier can mean work piling up, less time to decompress before starting a new day, or failing to get essential household chores done. You can’t always get the ideal amount of sleep, but you can prioritize sleep to the best of your ability. Sleep ushers in a host of physical and mental health benefits that will immediately help you function and feel better at work. Though not a novel idea, we started with this tip because all the others depend on you having the energy and clear mind to do them.
Explore Your Power
Feeling trapped at your current job or in your career path wreaks havoc on your confidence and attitude. No job is perfect, but there are also many jobs that are bad fits for us and not what we are meant to be doing with our lives. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can’t do any better. While job searches often take more time and effort than we want, you can leave a bad situation, eventually, if you stay committed to finding a way out. Or, you may decide to stay in your current job, but the choice is always yours. Today’s decision to stay does not mean you won’t change your mind tomorrow. Practice self-care by never losing sight of the power to better your life.
Know Your Intentions
Goals and intentions are not the same thing. Goals are specific accomplishments that we can fail at or successfully achieve. Intentions anchor our desires for how we want to contribute to and experience life. Do you want to be of service, be more patient, or bring kindness into the lives of others? These are examples of intentions; they serve to anchor our thoughts and therefore our actions. I recommend you set a specific intention each workweek. How do you want to feel this week? Write it down. Being clear about your intentions helps you observe if you are moving toward the life you want to be building — or farther away from it.
Invest in New Activities
In my experience, there are ample opportunities at work to pick up new projects or collaborate with innovative people, as long as you keep doing your main job well. If you want to do extra work on your own time, nobody will stop you. But why would you want to do extra work when you’re already tired and unhappy? It’s a fair question, but you need new experiences to steer your career forward. My job centers on helping people get where they want to go, but first they have to know where that is. You can’t reflect on or refine your work life if you don’t know what motivates you. Experimenting with different activities and team cultures helps you figure out what direction to head next. This information is priceless and worth the extra effort.
The good news about practicing self-care in our work lives is that we start reaping benefits almost immediately. The simple act of being more deliberate in improving your life eases stress and makes room for hope and peace. Our workdays can and should be enjoyable. Don’t settle for less.
About the Author
Kourtney Whitehead has focused her career on helping people reach their work goals, from executive searches to counseling to career transitions, through her positions at top executive recruiting firms and consulting companies. Her new book, Working Whole, shares how to unite spiritual and work life.