The Best Self-Care Practices for a Happy and Healthy Workday
Whether you work in an office, at a trade job, as a physician, as a service worker, or find yourself suddenly working at home due to Covid-19, implementing routine self-care practices are essential for a happy and healthy workday.
So often in life we fall into work-related routines or situations that are less than healthy. I know I have. In the past, I’ve certainly struggled with everything from painful desk setups, to a lack of movement and setting boundaries with employers. In dealing with these situations, I’ve developed a series of methods and standards so that when I walk into my workplace every day, I know I’ll set myself up for success.
So, to keep you happy and healthy in body, mind, and spirit, here are 15 great self-care practices!
1. Exercise Every Day
Whether you work in an office, at a shop, as a laborer, or something else, making time to move your body every single day is so important for both your body and your mind.
If your work benefits include a gym membership then power to you, but even taking a 45-minute walk over your lunch hour every day will do wonders for your body and keeping up your energy throughout the day.
Of course, if you work shift work or in a position where leaving and exercising just isn’t in the cards, then check out these 7 fun workouts that will keep you interested and moving from home!
2. Meal Plan for the Week
Let’s be honest — trying to keep up a healthy diet week after week can be tough, especially if you’re someone who prefers eating out to cooking at home. If this sounds like you, then enter the meal plan.
Once a week, list out a few different recipes to make, take note of the ingredients, and go to the grocery store for those items. Then, batch-cook a few different meals and put them in containers for easy access throughout the week. Personally, while I’m certainly not perfect with this, I like to do all my cooking on Sunday, during which time I prep some meals and salads.
If you’re anything like me, then switching up your meals and keeping things interesting is key to eating healthy consistently, so look up some interesting recipes to get inspired!
3. Listen to Music for Concentration
If you work in an office or find yourself in a situation where you need to routinely concentrate on tasks, then create a playlist that will help you do just that. While the science isn’t conclusive, there are reports that suggest putting on relaxing music aids concentration, but of course this depends on your personality type and the music style.
Personally, I can’t listen to music I really like while I’m working. I get way too sucked into the melody and get way off track the task at hand. However, I do love putting on repetitive instrumentals to work, and apparently others do too, as there are plenty of these kinds of study-focused playlists online.
My advice is to try out a few kinds of music, see what works and what doesn’t, and then go with that.
4. Surround Yourself with Inspiring Items
Our surroundings have a huge impact on our motivation, and this includes everything from the atmosphere, to cleanliness, organization, and personal effects. So, spiff up your workspace! If you work from home or in an office, make sure you feel inspired and energized by your surroundings. Organize your items and files, and place trinkets on your desk that make you feel good and remind you of yourself and the people you love.
Personally, I love having a plant on my desk, along with some photos and souvenirs from my travels.
5. Take Regular Breaks
While some bosses would certainly prefer it, people are not machines, and plenty of studies have shown that taking breaks throughout a workday actually improves productivity and mental alertness.
So, make sure to routinely get away from your tasks and give your brain or body a break. Grab a coffee or tea, play a game on your phone, take a short walk, or have a quick meditation. Taking these short breaks will do wonders for morale and help you avoid fatigue.
6. Use Blue Light Blocking Glasses
If you work a job that has you staring at a screen all day, then consider purchasing some blue-light-blocking glasses. While blue light is everywhere (you’re actually exposed to it from the sun more than anywhere else), optometrists have expressed concern that the blue light emissions from computer screens and smart devices may have an impact on our eyes when viewed for lengthy periods of time at close range.
There are still studies being done on the benefits of blue-light blocking glasses, but one thing that most wearers can agree on is that they experience less eye fatigue while wearing them.
Again, this is something that may work for you or may not, but if you can find a cheap pair to try out, then give it a go!
7. Customize Your Desk & Chair
If you work at a desk every day, then you know how much bad posture and a poor setup can affect your body. So, if you have the resources, outfit your workspace for optimal comfort.
Key areas to focus on include the desk (make sure it’s high enough so you’re not slouching, or opt for a standing desk), your chair (look for a chair with lumbar support), and an ergonomic keyboard (find one that feels right for you, but if you type a lot, then wrist supports are key).
8. Organize Every Day
No matter where you work, having a well-organized space will keep you and your team working as efficiently as possible. At the end of every workday, make sure to take the time to put away your tools, clean your area, and set yourself up for success the next day.
Personally, I always take the time at the end of every day to make myself a to-do list for the next day. With this strategy, I never forget tasks and I know exactly what I need to do.
9. Know Your Power Hours
If you have a job that allows you to stick to a routine, then chances are you’ve noticed that there are certain hours of the day when you’re just more “on” than others. Personally, I am most alert and work best during the early morning hours, and then fall into a slump in the early afternoon.
Because I know this about myself, I always schedule my day where I take on the most heavy-duty, brain-needing tasks while I’m most alert, and then schedule the ones where I can be a little more on autopilot in the afternoon.
And don’t feel bad about this daily energy routine you find yourself in — our bodies have natural cycles of feeling more alert and then not-so — it’s all hormones!
10. Ask for What You Need
Whether you’re an employee or the boss, it’s so important to eloquently convey your needs to the people you work with. Let each other know what systems are working for you and which ones aren’t, and really listen to each other as you speak.
Examples of these systems are what hours you work, tools and systems used, methods of communication, and conflict resolution strategies.
Everyone works a little bit differently, and communication is key to maintaining a team that works well together.
11. Set Boundaries
On that note, it’s so important to set boundaries when needed. Convey to your teammates which hours of the day are off-limits to be contacted, what language or ideas you will or will not tolerate, and anything else that might come up.
Without proper boundaries in place, emotions can run high and burn-out can take a toll.
12. Check-in With Yourself
While we’re talking about how we’re feeling at work, in order to properly set boundaries and know what your needs are, make time to check in with yourself every day. Take a few moments of quiet to think, assess your emotions and energy level, and then adjust the rest of your day accordingly.
Listening to what your body, mind, and spirit are telling you will make such a difference in how you communicate and how you honor yourself while in the workplace.
13. Make Time for Personal Tasks
If you’re someone who works a demanding job that seems to leave little time for personal tasks, and you find yourself in a ball of stress because of it, then it’s time to put personal tasks right into your schedule.
While yes, your employer is paying you for your time (or, if you’re the employer, time is money), you’re no use to anyone if you can’t take 5 minutes and check in with your daycare provider, place a dinner order online, or take a call from your car mechanic. Along with mental rest, this is what breaks are for, and if you have a lot of things on the go, it’s key to use them wisely.
14. Know Your Value
Whether you’re a top dog at your company, about to ask for a raise, or feeling underappreciated in your role, it’s so important to know and remember your value. In the workplace, you’ll need to perform for your boss and the rest of your team, and this can often mean that there will be opinions about you flying all around.
Remember that your value is not intrinsically tied to your daily output and that you are a human with strengths, weaknesses, and plenty of opportunities.
15. Plan an Office Event
Due to the fact that so many people are currently working at home because of Covid-19, I feel it’s important to mention that keeping in touch with your coworkers in a non-formal setting is great for workplace morale.
If you feel comfortable doing so, offer to plan a video chat with your coworkers after hours to catch up on life. Personally, my office has after-hours get-togethers about a month or so to help us catch up and bond as people.
Not only are after-work office functions great for learning more about your coworkers, but they’re also great for morale as well!
Well, that’s it for my 15 best self-care practices to help you have a happy and healthy workday! I hope you’ve taken some strategies from this list that you can incorporate into your own life, and let me know if you have any more ideas in the comments!