Selfcare at work…and why it matters
You’re in business to help people. You see as many clients a day as possible — not just to bring in revenue, but because you have a genuine commitment to helping others live their best and most-productive lives. But that can take a toll out of your own physical and emotional well-being…a toll too often ignored until it impacts your ability to deliver quality services.
Service providers such as caregivers are often their own worst patients, because they ignore symptoms in themselves they would easily pick up on within their patients. Here are some simple ways to help ensure you’ll be there to deliver the world-class service that enables your business to be successful, meet the needs of your clients to improve their lives, and not burn yourself out in the process.
1. Lunch: Plan ahead!
I’ve said it before: The Scout motto is a perfect one, applicable to virtually every facet of your life. Be prepared! How many days do you find the need to skip lunch because the day’s schedule is running behind? While it’s ideal to join a colleague or other friend for lunch outside of the workplace, sometimes it’s just plain impossible. (The best-laid plans, you know?) So hope for the best, but prepare for what’s too often a reality.
Bring a healthy lunch from home of foods you love, in case scheduled lunch plans don’t work out. Find a quiet place, preferably outside of the office — best yet if the weather makes it possible, outside in the fresh air, with a short walk included! And if you can manage those shared lunch plans, take your packed lunch home and eat it after work. Or fix something that will stay fresh in the office refrigerator for another day.
(Oh, and don’t forget to mark your name on it, just in case someone who hasn’t planned ahead think it’s open season for them to take! That certainly will raise your stress level and affect the tone in the office.)
If you’re working from home, also plan and shop ahead…not merely for family meals and snacks, but for your lunches as well. Depending on your family situation, you may also need to mark those as “Mommy’s lunches.”
2. Keep hydrated
As with most of these tips, this may be fundamental but can be easily overlooked during a hectic day. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The human body is 50 to 60% water. Lack of fluids, particularly water, makes you physically and mentally tired and not at the top of your game. It can impact blood sugar balance, blood pressure, hormone regulation and general energy levels, among others.
Getting a colorful, refillable water bottle you can have on or near you throughout your busy day can help you remember to drink! And no…coffee or soda pop are poor substitutes. Many teas are, or you can add flavor to your daily water intake. Infuse your water with a bit of fresh mint, lemon, lime, cucumbers or a squirt of flavoring…as long as it doesn’t have too much sugar or artificial ingredients.
3. Set aside some time on the schedule
We have some other simple tips, but here’s one that’s foundational and where practiceQ™ can help you.
If your practiceQ calendar is linked to your Google or Outlook Calendar, all of your blocked time on those calendars will automatically show as blocked on your practiceQ calendar. Why not block a bit of time for lunch, along with a short refresher break in the morning and afternoon? Whether or not your other calendars are linked, here’s how you can easily block time for you within practiceQ.
And then the hardest part of course: Then keep as many of those daily breaks as possible, to help you recharge! Sometimes just seeing them on your calendar, along with perhaps a 15-minute reminder, will help you do something for yourself…and, by extension, your clients. As a character in a 1930s movie said to Mae West, “I would die to make you happy.” She rightfully replied, “Oh, but you’d be no good to me dead.” The same is true of your ability to continue to serve those who are counting on you.
4. Wear your favorite, comfortable clothing
Of course, there’s a dress code in every office. But within those guidelines, typically there’s some flexibility. If you find certain attire comfortable, attractive and which makes you feel good about yourself, wear it periodically. When in doubt, look up the dress code, or check with your employer.
5. Make your workspace ergonomic and decorative
If you take a semi-critical eye to your workspace and think of what tasks you regularly do there, you may be able to make some adjustments that make those tasks less frustrating and time-consuming. Too much workspace clutter can lead to brain clutter! Again depending on office rules, you might do a bit of personalization by adding a few items that remind you of loved ones, home, favorite activities, or that upcoming trip!
6. Look forward to something you can’t wait to do
While you need to stay focused on the moment, in those stressful work times keep in the back of your mind something on your schedule that you’re really looking forward to — a trip to see friends and loved ones, a vacation abroad, or completing an advanced certification or degree. Whatever the goals, those are the things that make your hard work worthwhile and puts it into perspective.
(If you haven’t asked for those vacation days — as far ahead as possible to be considerate to colleagues and clients alike — do so pronto! Too many of us say “we’re too busy for me to take time off right now”…and then never take it. If nothing else, request a PTO day or two each quarter to rest and recharge.
7. Learn to say ‘no’ sometimes. Or ‘not now.’
Most of us take great pride in the quality and quantity of our work. We have a great work ethic, and sincerely want to help our clients and co-workers. But when we overcommit to doing things above and beyond our already-full pile of responsibilities and tasks, it can quickly become overwhelming. Ado Annie may have sung “I Cain’t Say No” to great applause and laughter in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic Broadway musical Oklahoma!, but sometimes you just have to set boundaries to prevent a meltdown. Help if you can personally, or offer suggestions of how something can be accomplished without your direct involvement. Don’t injure your health in the process.
Work/life balance is for you, not just others
There are many more suggestions that may help you lower your stress level and increase both your satisfaction and your productivity. But by physically scheduling breaks in your day, holding to them, and looking at the big picture as you deal with inevitable crises big and small, you can better focus on delivering personable, outstanding service to your clients while not suffering at work or at home in the process.