What does true work-life-balance look like? How is it achieved? Having a healthy balance between work and your personal life means that you are practicing professional self-care. Prioritizing this type of self-care often takes practice, especially since work is a huge aspect of our daily lives. Sometimes it can be difficult to turn off our “working brains” at the end of a work day, and the line between our professional and personal lives begins to blur.
While a lot of forms of self-care are practiced on people’s own time, professional self-care is something that can also be incorporated into the work day. Professional self-care is all about setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Here are some of our tips for practicing professional self-care.
Start With Small Changes
You don’t have to make too many huge changes to your routine to practice professional self-care. It’s okay to begin by making small adjustments, as you set your priorities and find new ways to make sure you are caring for yourself during the work week.
Differentiate Work Time from Personal Time
It can help to set clear endpoints to your work day. Consider what time you want to stop checking emails or working on tasks and try to honor that. Differentiating between the two should give you a healthy balance. You could also try a calming activity once you’re finished for the day, like taking a walk, journaling or cooking, as a way to transition into your home life.
Staying organized is a form of self-care that can help you feel less overwhelmed. When you outline exactly what you need to do for work, your mind will have it all in one place. Keeping a calendar of your schedule and a to do list in a notebook or a planner can allow you to clearly outline each task. Breaking up large projects into smaller tasks is another way to organize your work and alleviate stress. In doing so, you can develop a short list of the top 2-3 priorities each day that seem manageable.
Take Breaks Throughout the Work Day
Even when you are busy with work, it’s important to take short breaks throughout the day. Taking breaks can help you clear your mind and come back to your work more refreshed. Be sure to take a full break for lunch, where you can eat a full, healthy meal. You can also take shorter breaks within the work day to stretch and take a moment away from your screen.
Do you experience eye strain from your screen at work? One tip you can use for a short break is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to focus away from your screen at an object 20 feet away. This will help refocus your eyes and allow them to adjust back to your work.
Create a Healthy Work Space
Self-care also involves creating a good environment for yourself. Having a work space that is free of clutter and that creates a calming atmosphere can reduce stress. Try keeping your desk organized, so that you know where everything you need is located. If you’re working from home right now, you can customize your space to feel even more calm. You could put essential oils in a diffuser or light a candle, add plants or position your work station with a view of outside, or play subtle, relaxing background music.
Evaluate Your Work Load
Before committing to a project or task, first consider your needs and available resources. It’s usually okay to scale back on work or slow down if you feel like you don’t have the bandwidth or that you’re already overextending yourself. Listen to what you think you can realistically accomplish within your scope of work and try to communicate with the people you work with if it feels like it’s too much (or too little).