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In today’s modern world, we are facing a rise of ‘burn-out’ in the workplace. By common definition, burn-out refers to a state whereby one becomes completely exhausted, suffering a physical or mental collapse due to stress or overwork and thus comprises or ruins their health. The effects of burn-out can be both short-term or more severe and ongoing.
One source in the Harvard Business Review suggests that the symptoms of burned-out employees costs an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion per year in U.S healthcare payout. Studies have concluded that burn-out is linked with risks such as insomnia and depression and also many serious physical consequences; a few of which are heart disease, cardiovascular disorders, or type 2 diabetes.
In discussion of this epidemic, the Harvard Business Review pointed to the problems with the companies who the burned-out employees worked for. They suggest potential issues such as excessive collaboration, or delegating the most capable employees too much of a workload. Regardless of your occupation or your company; there are some self-care practices that you can adopt to help both your mental and physical health during your working week.
Supercharge your lunch-break
Take the full amount of time that you can get and don’t be afraid to get a little imaginative with how you use it. This is your personal time in order to recharge so if you’re finding that merely eating lunch, chatting with co-workers or scrolling on your social media isn’t helping to revitalize you; try to find something that does. It might be finding a quiet park or cafe spot to read a book undisturbed, or possibly having a brief gym session, or yoga. One idea might be to watch a comedy sketch or two to get laughing and release endorphins; another is to find a quiet place to meditate.
If you’re the creative type, many aspiring writers and artists like to use their lunch break to work on their craft. These types often find it therapeutic and because sometimes not having enough time and energy to work on your passions, due to work commitments, can leave you feeling deflated.
Some like to use their whole lunch break in one of these ways and then simply have something quick and nutritious prepared to eat when they get back to their desk. This may not work for you personally, but one thing is for sure; if you start to regard your lunch break as your sacred time to rejuvenate, you might reconsider how you spend it or who you spend it with.
Many of us have positive friendships with our co-workers that help get us through the day. However, if you’re merely spending time with your co-workers at lunch because you feel obliged and would prefer some alone time, take it upon yourself to take that time back (which brings us to our next point).
Positive relationships are an excellent way to take care of yourself. Have you ever noticed that a mere short interaction with one person can lift your energy and spirits while another person can, in the same amount of time, drain you and leave you feeling zapped of life? This is a difficult one because we do not choose who we work with; however, we can try as much as possible to set limits on the amount of time we spend with people whose energy is not serving us mentally.
While we are on the subject of positive people, we should also take a second to consider positive thinking. Sometimes, especially when it comes to work, we can be too self-critical. Try to practice self-care within your internal monologue. Every time you hear yourself thinking a negative thought, be it about your work skills, abilities, confidence, or your worth as an employee; stop and try to replace it with a positive one. Often, our self-criticisms are things that we would never dream of saying to a family member or a friend. To amp up the self-care, attempt to get into thought patterns whereby you are questioning negative and over-critical thoughts, then disregarding them.
While you’ll likely often want to reach for the chocolate, crisps or coffees for a much-needed energy or morale boost, the fact is that clean-eating practices can be a great self-care practice to adopt. Healthy foods can often end up giving you more of the good energy that you need. Why not try one week of replacing your usual snacks and drinks with lots of fruits, vegetables, superfoods, and juices. Many people report that they end up feeling more cleansed, alert, and relaxed after the process of detoxing a little. Of course, these practices may not work for everyone; it’s all about figuring out your own preferred food and drinks that will keep you feeling good and nourished throughout the day.
Our environments have the ability to drastically affect how we feel mentally and physically. Just because you are not responsible for the entire office decor, this doesn’t mean that you can’t help yourself to make the most of your own working space. Many studies have shown that the use of plants contribute to our sense of calm and well being. As well as this, plants can help to cleanse the indoor air. Plenty of natural light is also of huge importance to feel energized and happy. If where you sit is a little lacking in natural light, why not buy yourself a light therapy lamp which can mimic the effects of sunlight and boost your mood.
Health & Safety
Health and safety is another top priority when it comes to talking about self-care. Naturally, health and safety also extends into the territory of caring for others, in terms of your colleagues, employees, and best health and safety practices. In America, in 2016, private industry employers claimed that 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred in the workplace.
Good health and safety practices, of course, do not come hand in hand with feeling burned-out. If you’re feeling low, fatigued, or stressed, these are the times whereby you could potentially be more likely to suffer an accident at work.
Your health and safety risks and codes of practice will naturally vary across industries, but the main thing is that employers are taking responsibility for maintaining a safe working environment and that employees are helping themselves by following their health and safety training closely.
If you have been unfortunate enough to have suffered an accident at work, then a workers’ compensation lawyer could help you with your situation. Let’s now consider some of the self-care practices you can take if you work in an office environment, to stop yourself from sustaining an injury.
When most think of health and safety in the workplace, construction or other manual work often springs to mind. However, the fact is that there are still risks of injury when working in an office environment too. For instance, ensuring that you have the right posture when you use a computer is highly important so as not to increase the likelihood of health problems and limb disorders. You should avoid sitting in the same position for too long periods of time and leave your mouse close by so you can easily use it with a straight wrist and a relaxed arm. Your forearms should be horizontal, and your eyes should be at the same height as the top of the display screen. The chairs in the workplace should be adjustable in height and stable enough to work comfortably.
Ensure that you take regular breaks to get up from your desk, stretch, and take a walk. You won’t want to encounter a repetitive strain injury or become stressed. Taking short breaks can also help you to flourish creatively and minimise the thought block that arrives when you’ve been working on a challenging task for too long. Often, when you hit a brick wall with a task, taking a step-back to chill is all that you need.
Outside of work
Naturally, our experiences outside of work will affect our working week, so it’s important to pay close attention to the aspects of our personal and social lives that are serving or not serving us. Make the most of every part of your weekend with whatever you need to do to make yourself feel amazing. This may be catching up with friends, sleeping in, taking a bike ride or learning a new skill. Leave your work-life out of the weekend and don’t be tempted to ruminate on the tasks that will follow next week. Take advantage of your downtime to fully relax in whatever way you need to.
Conclusion: How and why you should practice self-care at work
It’s not always easy to practice self-care with so much else going on. Self-care largely relies upon principles of putting yourself and your health and well being first despite your responsibilities and commitments. Doing so is always going to be challenging, yet with the right amount of trial and error, a balance can be found.