Self Care: 4 Simple Hacks to Taking Better Care of Yourself at Work

This month's WildSparq Sparq work was entitled "The Multiplication Effect," which essentially states that small changes made consistently over an extended period of time can have a huge impact. As I went through the lesson, I started thinking about the areas in my life where the Multiplication Effect was working for me and the areas where it might be working against me. Because I come to the business world with a background in psychology and counseling, I wanted to share some small changes you can make that can have a major effect on your self-care, especially in the midst of your weekly grind. 

Love what you wear

Did you know that dressing in clothes you enjoy can help boost your work day? It's an expression of creativity and a way you can elevate your mood during the day. This hack is not just for the ladies - guys, you can liven up your wardrobe too! 

  • Adding comfortable attire and color to your professional wardrobe can make a big difference. 
  • Don't think you have time to make a change? Try picking your outfits at the beginning of the week or the night before. This ensures that you have time to pick an outfit you'll enjoy wearing. 
  • No room in the budget to freshen your selection? There are so many great options for business casual and business professional wear at great price points. Try adding one new piece every six months. This can help you build new combinations over time that add variety to your work attire. For business professional settings, blouses come in lots of fun colors, and neckties or dress socks can add a pop of fun to your wardrobe.

Eat like you love yourself, even at work

Have you ever stopped to evaluate the things you eat at work? There's this phenomenon that I call the "office donut mentality." This phenomenon states that a donut in any other setting is not as appealing as a donut at work, especially if it's free and in the break room and everyone else is eating one. I made that phenomenon up, but seriously, we tend to gravitate toward snack foods more during our work day. 

It's not just the snacks that get us, though. We tend to make less healthy choices at mealtime too. Often, we run out at lunchtime and grab fast food instead of planning ahead to make a healthier choice. 

Here are my best hacks for eating like you love yourself at work.

  • On the nights I cook dinner, I cook enough food for lunch the next day. As I put away the extra food after dinner, I go ahead and pack a lunch sized portion in a travel container that I can "grab and go" on my way out the door. This saves a step in the morning and gives me a healthier, homemade option for lunch during my work week.  
  • Not cooking this week? When I do eat out, I typically ask for a to-go box when the server brings my meal. I have found that packing up half of my meal keeps me from overeating at that meal and gives me a "ready to go" lunch option for the next day. 

Boundaries are important

When I was in grad school, I read a book called Boundaries by Henry Cloud & John Townsend that I would highly recommend to everyone. It is a book that helps us distinguish what is our responsibility versus what is not. It's helpful in interpersonal relationships, work relationships, friendships, as well all of the other places in life where we tend to take on too much and then wonder why we're so tired. 

I think we get excited and ambitious and forget to draw boundaries around our work, and then we face a fatigue that makes us wonder why we were ever excited and ambitious in the first place. We make compromises and invite work home with us, and then we forget where work belongs. 

To the best of my ability, I try to schedule anything I am working on for my job during business hours. I work to complete the tasks I need to complete during that time and I work to turn it off in the evenings and over the weekend. Sometimes I have to actively remind myself to do this - e.g. "Don't text him back right now. It's 10:30 PM and that can wait until morning." It's little intentional choices that can make a big difference over time in either direction: supporting healthy boundaries or ignoring healthy boundaries. 

Are there exceptions? Sometimes. Are there careers this doesn't work for? Sometimes. Some professionals are on call or have policies about keeping up with their work even while on vacation. This is a major challenge of living in the the age of technology, but the addition of some healthy boundaries could help anyone experience the demands of their circumstances differently. 

Use your vacation intentionally and when you need it

I haven't done in-depth research on this, but google "unused vacation time in the US" and it becomes clear that for some reason we don't use the vacation time we are given. I get it - you want to save a couple of days in case you get sick or in case of an emergency, but according to an article by CNN, "The average U.S. worker leaves almost half of his or her vacation days on the table." That's not "in case of an emergency" time. That's your time to renew and refresh, and you aren't using it! 

I can guess some of the reasons why: 

  • "By the time I get back, I have so much to catch up on that I wish I hadn't gone in the first place." 
  • "I will likely just work while I'm away anyway, so what's the point?" 
  • "If I take the time off, I won't advance the way I'd like to."
  • "It looks like I don't care about my work if I take time off." 

Sound familiar? Have you made one of these statements recently? It's ok if you have. I would say that you are not alone after seeing that this is a consistent phenomenon for the average American worker. Let me coach you on this for a second: take the time to renew and refresh. Go to the wedding or the beach or the game. Stay at home, wake up slow, sip your coffee. Take the time off to invest in relationships or read a book or clean your house. That is your time to refresh yourself however you need to. 

Along with committing to use your vacation days, it's also great to plan ahead and use your vacation time intentionally. At the beginning of each year, dream about the ways you would most like to use your time away from work. Coordinate with a friend or loved one and plan ahead to use the time off together. What trips would you like to take? What events will you need to take time off for? Plan ahead as much as you can so you will know how many "unclaimed" days you have to renew and refresh along the way. 

These little changes over time can make a big difference! What little changes could you make to create more balance in your work life?


To learn more about how WildSparq helps organizations implement a leader development strategy, please visit http://www.wildsparq.com.

To learn more about how FireSeeds helps recruit, develop, and retain multiplying leaders, please visit http://fireseeds.com


Lindsey Vollenweider is a Recruiter for FireSeeds, located in Birmingham, AL. You can contact her directly at lindsey@fireseeds.com.