By: Alisha Sedor
If you follow our Facebook page, you'll know that on Sundays we like to post for #SelfCareSunday - tips for ways to ensure you're taking care of yourself in your day-to-day so that you can be at your best. Self-care has become a really trendy topic, and sometimes gets discounted as being a frivolous practice all about bubble baths and face masks. But it's so much more than that.
As defined by PsychCentral, self-care is "any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health." It's everything from making a budget to going to the dentist regularly to, yes, taking the time to meditate with a deep cleansing mask on in the bubble bath if that's what helps you take care of you. I'd argue, as well, that it's essential to integrate self-care into your everyday routine. It's not about relegating your self-care to your home life, but building in space throughout your day.
In addition to being good for you, it's also great for your team. Studies show that there are significant relationships between individual well being scores on employee surveys and business goals such as: customer satisfaction, productivity, profitability, employee turnover, and absenteeism. There are loads of ways to bring self-care into your workplace, here are some idea starters. Comment below the piece if you have other suggestions!
Self-Care as a Team
For team-level self-care, it's all about making it easy for lots of people to participate. I recommend incorporating all of the below during business hours and within your office space if you can. Going offsite inevitably inhibits the ability of some people to participate, and after-hours can impede on their own home self-care time (which kind of defeats the purpose)! Going out of the office can be fun for sure, but I would make it the exception and not the rule.
- Meditation classes
- Bringing an instructor on-site regularly is a great way to encourage your team to meditate and improve their mental health. You might be able to find free classes, or you can partner with a local teacher to offer a recurring Meditation Mondays or Mid-Week Meditation during the lunch hour.
- On-site yoga
- Yoga is a great workout to offer in your office because it doesn't require much equipment. At most, you need some mats and some space. Push a few desks out of the way and you're set! Some instructors will lead office yoga classes that don't even require you to change out of your work clothes. Do something good for your physical health together!
- Clearly define after-hours policies for work communications
- A huge part of self-care is drawing boundaries. Setting clear policies on when and how you expect your teams to communicate outside of business hours is essential to that. For example, you might encourage your team to not reply to email after business hours, but be available for phone calls if there's an emergency. Clearly defining those policies let's your team know what to expect and how they can unplug.
- Celebrate your wins
- Self-care can also include recognizing your accomplishments! We're a pretty self-critical society and sometimes just taking a beat to celebrate can put everyone in a better mental state.
- Start a lunchtime walking or workout group
- Reset your day together doing something for your physical health! Even a 10 minute walk around the block can help clear your mind and add some extra steps to your pedometer.
- Stock up on healthy snacks
- Sometimes, we just need a back of chips on a tough day and that's ok. But, having the option of healthy snacks in the office will make your team more likely to pick up those options and take better care of themselves.
- Team stretches
- This might seem silly, but a team I was part of a couple of years ago would do a "Home Stretch Team Stretch" every day an hour before end of day. Something as simple as all standing up and stretching it out together helped the team get through the end of the day slump and bond by feeling silly together.
- Fill your office with plants
- Emma outlined the physical and mental health benefits of plants in her post about the importance of your physical workspace. Check it out!
- Make walking meetings part of your culture
- Do you have regular meetings that are just status updates? Have the other party email you notes and then do a walk and talk for the voiceover. You still get the information and you do something for your physical well-being. Plus you'll feel like you're on The West Wing.
- End meetings early
- One of the most important things for my self-care is time. If a meeting doesn't need the full time set aside for it, wrap the agenda and send everyone out. Those extra 10 minutes can be precious.
- Have a wellness stipend
- In addition to health insurance, encouraging employees to take care of themselves with a wellness stipend that can be used for things not covered by insurance is great way for your team to engage in self-care. Set an amount and a policy of what it can be used for - gym memberships, massage, acupuncture, OTC medication, whatever you like.
Self-Care for You
Making time and space for a bit of self-care as an individual can make all the difference in your day, too. You'll be more focused and productive when digging in on work because you won't be distracted by how you feel.
- Create a desk space that feels good and healing to you (and see if your office will pay for some of it)
- Pick whatever makes you feel comfortable, but some examples include: getting a standing desk or yoga ball to sit on, having a SAD Lamp, noise-cancelling headphones, sweaters/blankets, a fan for warm weather, aromatherapy diffuser (if your neighbors don't mind), and wrist-rests for your mouse and keyboard.
- Build supportive relationships
- Having people on your team that you can go to during a rough day, take a walk and talk, and celebrate your wins with makes going to work every morning much more fun.
- Set clear priorities
- Just like setting boundaries, knowing what direction you're going helps provide you clarity on how you should be spending your day and reduce stress. Work with your manager to determine priorities and workflows on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis depending on your role.
- Pack healthy and yummy lunches
- Nobody works well when they're hangry. Do some physical self-care by prepping and bringing lunches that are good for you but that you also enjoy. You'll be less likely to order in that burger if you had a fantastic rosemary ham sandwich on multigrain with a side of sliced mango.
- Listen to sound baths as background music
- I attended my first sound bath just last week, and I've been listening to sound bath recordings as very relaxing background noise ever since. They're soothing and not distracting from my work, but provide me with the white noise I need to concentrate. You can find them all over, even on Spotify.
All of these are simply suggestions; self-care means deciding what makes sense for you and building those items into your life. Share your favorite workplace self-care practices in the comments!