Life gets hectic. You’re busy all the time and you don’t notice how fast things are going. It is easy to forget to take the time to care for your own health and wellbeing. When is the last time you slowed down and did something you liked? Dr Suzanne Henwood provides suggestions on how you can care for yourself around your busy work environment.
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GREAT HEALTH: Self-Care For Busy People Part 2
written by Dr. Suzanne Henwood
Last month in GHGTM magazine we discussed the first four self-care ideas to use at work, in the article Self-Care for Busy People Part 1. While there is no one ‘right’ list of activities and everyone will have their own preferences, you can adjust and refine these simple ideas to fit your work environments. Here are more ideas you can use within your work environment. Remember… the time and energy are worth it.
1. Physical activity.
We have become incredibly sedentary, often sitting all day, not even moving for breaks or lunch. In addition, we may be sat hunched over IT, or paperwork, remaining still for many hours, which is not best practice for keeping our spines and joints healthy. Set an alarm to integrate physical activity into your day at least every hour – just for two minutes:
stand and stretch
if you can, go for a quick walk – consider walking to a bathroom that is not the closest, even better one on the next floor up or down – and use the stairs to get there
consciously straighten your spine and take your shoulders back, feeling the front of your chest open up
if you can go outside into the fresh air for a few minutes and even better, if you can connect directly with the ground by removing your shoes, then go for it.
Over an average week, build in longer spurts of exercise, such as 20-minute walks, swimming, bike riding, or whatever activities you enjoy, making it easier to sustain over time.
Also, build in non-activity, effective rest times to give your body time to rest and recover from the stresses of every day. Healthy sleep patterns are essential to allow your body to process and recover each day.
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2. Create opportunities for social connection.
Human beings are social beings. It is essential that you find a variety of ways to get connection and support (personal and professional) for your wellbeing. Some authors even argue that social belonging is a fundamental physiological requirement along with food, safety and shelter. See for example Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Find ways to create social connection at work, whether it’s a few minutes each day to authentically connect with a colleague, to really see someone and allow yourself to be seen, to listen and be listened to. Consider more formal coaching and supervision to support you in professional issues. Whatever best suits, ensure that you find ways to connect and belong to safeguard your wellbeing.
3. Build in things that make you smile.
Every day deliberately do things that make you smile:
find something that makes you laugh, like a daily cartoon on your desk
set aside a time every day to do a smile scavenger hunt – stop and look round until you find something that makes you smile, search on your way into work – seeing things with new eyes. Smiling is contagious and by smiling more, more people will smile at you.
4. Introduce variety into your day.
Neural plasticity is the new development and changes to neural pathways that happens in learning and change. As we are habitual beings, it is very easy to become mindless about what you are doing, which can reduce the pleasure related to it. It is a good idea to continously do things differently – pick one thing each week that you will change, for example:
take a different route to work
select a different drink at your break time
change your routines at work.
5. Explore meaning.
Many people are looking for something above and beyond work. The search for meaning and purpose, defining the difference you make, can be deeply satisfying. Take time out to think of the wider and higher impacts related to what you do:
who do you serve or help?
what bigger game are you contributing to?
6. Healthy Eating.
It is very easy when you are busy to grab quick snacks that are high in carbohydrate or sugar. The immediate, though short lived energy hit can make you feel satisfied in the moment, but is unlikely to keep you going over a long busy day. Think ahead and take into work, healthy, nutritious energy rich snacks, that are even more effective at keeping you going through the busy times and care for your body at the same time:
variety of nuts
fruit with added natural yoghurt
protein or energy bars
low fat cottage cheese and crackers
Starting this week, which activities you will choose for your own practice? How quickly you will start to feel your mood lift? Why not set out a plan for the next 7 days? A few minutes a day can make a huge difference, which will enable you to be healthy so that you can continue to work and perform excellently at home and work. You are worth it.
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