Are you making time for self-care?
Self-care is something that often gets neglected in the hustle and bustle of the modern world. But are we doing ourselves, families, and colleagues a disservice by doing so? By ignoring our own needs, are we making things more challenging for ourselves, our productivity, and our teams at work?
In this episode of The Learning Xchange, Matthew Brown (Schoox’s VP of Learning and Brand Success) explores the topic of self-care and why it’s so important to make time for ourselves. Focusing on good self-care has plenty of benefits for your own mental health and wellbeing, as well as your team’s.
Listen to the podcast episode below to learn more or keep reading.
Health and wellness have been huge topics for discussion throughout the pandemic. At the forefront of this discussion is the topic of mental health specifically. Despite the benefits of remote work, it has taken a toll on our health for many of us.
Have you been thinking carefully about your own wellbeing? Are you taking time out of your day just for self-care? Are you conscious of the self-care of your employees or other team members?
In a remote setting, it’s easy to sweep this under the rug and neglect to think about it, but it’s more important now than ever to pay attention to self-care.
Self-care starts with us
When it comes to self-care in a team environment, it starts with us as individuals. If we want to improve our team’s mental health and wellbeing, we need to start with ourselves.
Ask yourself: “What am I doing to take care of myself so that I can be in service of others?” If you’re running on fumes yourself, how likely do you think you’ll be able to help others to the best of your ability? Not very likely.
That’s why we need to be conscious about where we spend our time and ensure that we’re setting aside time for breaks and self-care.
The struggles of self-care in the era of remote work
While remote work can certainly have a beneficial effect on mental health and productivity, that doesn’t mean it’s all good news. In fact, there are two main issues with remote work for some people.
It can be much more difficult to shut off from work if you’re working from home. If you’re sitting at your desk alone all day, it’s easy to forget to take a break or to simply eat at your desk.
It’s also easy to watch your calendar fill up, especially when all those meetings you’d usually have at various sites or conference rooms are now all in the same place. There’s no commute time, which makes setting up meetings convenient. But sometimes that just means our schedules are packed full.
Another issue with remote work is for those who struggle with feelings of isolation. There’s none of that water cooler chat where employees can blow off steam and socialize away from their desks.
Ways to practically apply self-care to your professional life
1. Manage your calendar
One of the simplest things you can do is manage your calendar more effectively. This doesn’t mean extreme calendar blocking where every minute of your day is booked for something. Instead, it means setting some realistic goals.
For example, try blocking out just 30 minutes each day just to give yourself time to step away from your desk, eat, and disconnect from everything. No eating at your desk, no emails, no chat messages, don’t even bring your phone. These 30 minutes are for you to just check out and think of something else.
If you can extend that time to an hour, use the first 30 minutes to decompress and try to do something a bit more fun for the rest. For example, focus on a hobby.
Make sure you’re also blocking at least two 15 minutes breaks during your day, so you’re getting regular time away from your desk.
2. Create to-do lists
To-do lists are such a simple productivity tool that can really keep you on track. When creating a to-do list, try to quickly prioritize tasks on it, mark off the must-dos or the nice-to-dos, or whatever prioritization method you use.
Another thing to bear in mind is that these to-do lists need to be flexible to adapt to change. If we have learned anything during the past 12-18 months, it’s that change is constant. So, when you make your lists, be sure to revisit them multiple times a day to adjust them as needed.
When you look back at it at the end of the day, you will see that you probably accomplished more than you thought.
3. Set boundaries
Another thing you can do for your own wellbeing is to set boundaries in your life and stick to them. One of the ways we can do that is to learn how to say no. It’s not always easy, but you don’t have to be abrupt about it, just firm.
Identify areas of your life where you can take a step back and delegate tasks to someone else. You may not even have to say no. Instead, you could say, “Yes, but not right now,” and say you’ll get to it next week.
4. Lead by example
Team leaders should practice good self-care, feel its impact, and then share those benefits and lessons with others. Lead by example.
A big part of being a good leader is also about actively displaying an interest in your co-workers or employees. Be very open for a candid conversation and look for as many moments as you can for those water cooler-type conversations.
It’s easy to forget that we’re all human in a corporate environment, especially when it’s remote. In person, it’s easy enough to have these talks after bumping into someone in the hallway or break room. Those moments are beneficial to just catch up with people, vent, or discuss something completely unrelated to work. But it’s much harder to have those moments when we’re all virtual.
Scheduling a meeting for these discussions may seem awkward, and yet a lack of engagement and isolation really affects some people.
Working from home can be isolating, and there is an emotional toll on that. So, be mindful of this. Try to find ways to create time and space for employees to connect with each other and blow off steam. This could be virtual lunches, fun activities like a networking mixer, or a team cooking challenge—any activity where deliverables and work responsibilities are not to be discussed.
5. Make employees aware of the help available
If your workplace has some kind of Employee Assistance Program (EAP), make sure your employees are all aware of it.
Many won’t know about it or will be unsure of where to go to ask for help. Be proactive in letting people know what’s available.
6. Rethink learning and development activities
The above also applies to learning and development activities, seminars, and workshops. Try to find ways to creatively weave in icebreakers to help people connect on a human level. Make sure there are plenty of breaks for everyone and try to include some wellness-inspired activities into your training.
All of the above are simple changes you can make in your personal life and your work life. Practicing self-care goes a long way in keeping everyone happy, productive, and healthy.