We don’t realise it, but our careers have consumed us.
The other day, I found myself Googling for 4 hours at a stretch, and refreshing my email and Slack every 10 minutes to see if there’s anything that did not catch my attention earlier. And practising self-care to maintain that work-life balance was not a part of my schedule. So naturally, I was too close to hitting the peak of saturation and having a meltdown as a result of my work FOMO.
“Your brain is like a computer. As much as you have to update its software by upskilling and hustling at work, you also have to protect its battery and clean all the junk by doing things apart from work!”
My father, a man who has slogged (and slayed) at work for 35 years, told me this when he saw me compromising on sleep for days. So, I took his advice and decided to make room for some self-care and pampering at work. Because self-love and self-care go hand in hand.
Here’s a self-care routine that helps me stay sane amidst deadlines. And here’s hoping this works out for you too!
7 ways to practice self-care at work
1. Schedule short breaks
When your to-do list keeps getting longer and the day keeps getting shorter, your immediate reflex would be to panic, and then hustle hard to finish everything on your plate. Even if that means drowning at work for 14 hours straight. But that doesn’t really help. Because you’re not even giving it your best shot, are you?
Instead, schedule short breaks throughout the day. These could be 15-minute breaks that allow you to unwind and do something that you love. Maybe watch half an episode of Gilmore Girls, whip up pancakes for yourself, or have a cuddle session with your pets.
When you take a break, your mind will be rejuvenated, and your output will be better.
2. Affirm yourself once in a while
Sometimes, we don’t realise that all we need is a little pep talk to navigate through the day. Why depend on anybody else when you can boost your own morale?
I recently stumbled upon Soul Palette, a brand that promotes self-care for women. They make these meaningful and quirky affirmation cards for each day of the month. These cards are very relatable, with soothing and positive affirmations like – ‘Not today, the universe can wait!’, ‘I am not here to please everybody, I am not a unicorn!’, and ‘I will laugh my loudest laugh today, and smile a little wider’.
If you need a little something to keep you going on the dullest of workdays, looking at these daily affirmations in the form of feel-good quotes might really help.
3. Clear the clutter on your work desk
If you’re bad at upkeeping your desk and it is almost always an absolute mess, then high five to you. A cluttered desk is equal to a cluttered mind.
So, keep your workplace minimal, with whatever you need on a daily basis in close proximity. Your desk should ideally have your laptop, a notebook, a pen, and a water bottle for hydration. The rest should go on a shelf or an organiser nearby.
Organising your desk is one of the best forms of self-care at work. Declutter regularly, because it really does help you stay focussed and calm.
4. Do some venting in a journal
My English teacher got me into the habit of daily self-care journaling back when I was 12. And I have brought that practice to work too. Journaling is one of the most effective techniques of self-care. It curbs mood swings, brings a sense of calm, reduces stress, gives more clarity on what you feel and think, and ultimately, helps you get to know yourself better.
Different people have different time preferences to pen their feelings down in a journal. Some might like to journal before going to bed; some might do it in the mornings before starting their day. The trick is to identify your time slot, take a pen, and just let the words flow.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an apt journal, bookmark this Vent it out Journal.
from Soul Palette, and do exactly what the name suggests – vent it all out!
5. Talk to your BFF
If you’re not into journaling, call your human diary a.k.a your best friend! Bottling those overwhelming feelings might not at all do you good, but talking to your friends will make you feel lighter.
Boss dumping work on you during weekends? Are colleagues gaslighting you? Spill it to your bestie. You can also talk to your work BFF. Chances are, they’re going through the same things as you. So venting together will not only help you both bond but also make you feel lighter and less alone at work.
6. Throw yourself a mental health party
It is always the little things you do that better your mental health. Try to establish wellness routines in your daily self-care schedule. And since we’re talking about wellness, here’s something that might be a great addition.
Soul Palette has ‘The Unwind Box’ that comes with everything that one needs after a grueling day at work. There is a pink and blue evil eye Journal, the famous self-help book, Ikigai, that talks about the Japanese secret to a long and happy life, some calming tea for your soul, an adorable mug to go with it, a meditation card, and a self-care checklist. So, it truly is a mental health party!
The Unwind Box was curated to glorify ‘rest culture’ instead of hustle culture, and I think getting yourself this box is a great way to set a reminder to disconnect from work once in a while and say aye to self-care!
7. How about a workcation?
When all hell breaks loose, activate your itchy feet and take that work-from-mountains (or beaches) trip that you’ve always wanted to. Workcations have been trending (and booming) for the last 4 years, and there’s a reason why more and more working professionals are choosing to take their laptops and run away from the city.
Cubicles (or the four walls of our room) may not spark as much creativity as a new location and ambience can.
I recently did a workcation from Himachal Pradesh, wherein I used to wake up early, freshen up, go sightseeing for an hour or two, grab some breakfast at a local cafe, and come back to my room to start work at 9:30 am. Wrapping up work by 5 pm bought me enough time later to catch up with my long-lost hobbies, and socialise with other travelers and locals.
There’s a poster on my cupboard that reads, ‘Self-love before selfless love’. I wrote that after my first work-related breakdown in 2018. While it’s not always easy to squeeze a self-care routine into your work schedule, it is not difficult either. And I have learned it the hard way (looking at the poster helps).
Loving your job does not mean that you will not experience burnout. And when you do, you know it’s time to treat and love yourself right.
So if you’re wondering how to practice self-care, or struggling to fit self-care in your diurnal things to do, now is the time to change that. And we’re hoping these tips will help. Because taking care of yourself is only your responsibility.
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