According to The American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job. Unfortunately, nearly half say they need to learn how to manage stress. As a result, an increasing number of employers are encouraging employee self-care.
Self-care is the concept of “taking care of ourselves”. Not simply getting up and going to work or school, but learning how to manage ourselves in such a way that we can reduce stress and increase overall happiness.
While some employers are offering formal company programs, many are encouraging self-care in a less formal (and inexpensive) way. So, what activities can employees do to practice self-care on their own (and with very little budget)? Here are six to start with:
1. Find out what the company offers. Sometimes your health insurance program has wellness benefits that can be utilized. Companies might offer self-care and call it wellness or well-being benefits. There’s also the possibility that the company’s training and development department is offering stress management, time management, or mindfulness programs. It might not be specifically labeled “self-care”, but it accomplishes the goal of helping individuals better manage themselves.
2. Create your own “doing” lists. We set goals regularly in our work. A “doing” list could be considered a type of goal. Think about the things you want to start doing. Just as important, the things you want to stop doing. The key to success with lists is being realistic. It’s hard to start (or stop) doing several things at one time. So, be mindful of how many things you ask yourself to accomplish. It might be easier to do 1-2 things, then add more later.
3. Focus on sleep. We need good sleep to do our best work. Finding out the right environment we need for sleep is essential. If you haven’t seen it, Arianna Huffington talks about the value of sleep in this TEDtalk. And if you want to learn more, she has a course on LinkedIn Learning called “Thrive”. Oh, and here’s a little secret – – while there is a cost for the course, if you’ve never taken a class with them before, you sign up for their free trial and complete it before the trial ends.
4. Learn more about nutrition. When we eat healthy, we sleep better, and have more energy. Each of us has to determine our own right foods and meal schedule. The good news is that if you need some guidance, there are programs available like Weight Watchers or the USDA SuperTracker. Before starting any type of nutrition plan, it’s advisable to discuss it with your physician. Sometimes organizations and their health insurance programs support and/or subsidize nutrition programs.
5. Set aside 5-10 minutes during lunch for something fun. There’s no rule that says we can’t have a little fun at work, in fact there is research that shows having fun helps to alleviate stress and makes our workday more pleasurable. Even if the boss is a big spoilsport, there’s no reason you can’t carve out a few minutes during lunches or breaks to do something fun for yourself. Even if its listening to your favorite upbeat song.
6. Maintain a healthy workspace. We don’t always have complete control over our office equipment, but wherever possible try to create a work environment that allows you to be your most productive. Adding more natural light, reducing desk clutter, and maintaining good posture can make us feel physically better and more productive.
Stress is a real workplace issue. It can impact our health and job performance. Consider these suggestions as a starting point. If you feel that these are insufficient for your needs, consider other options including utilizing the services of the company’s employee assistance program (EAP).
Organizations and individuals want the same thing. Finding ways to de-stress can help us personally and professionally perform at our best.