Don’t we all wish we could be spending our day’s taste-testing adaptogenic mushroom teas, trying out the latest acro-yoga class, and ending with a soothing sound bath as we meditate into wellness bliss? Who doesn’t? But then reality sets back in as we rush to the next conference meeting with our Bulletproof coffee in tow as we rub some more lavender oil on our temples. It can be difficult to find that ying and yang between your self-care routine and still reaching your career goals, the key here is balance. Bringing self-care to office is the first step.
You have an ever-growing to do list, tasks seeking priority over sleeping in that extra 10 minutes, skipping lunch to get that project done, we have all been offenders of skimping our personal time to reach a deadline, however the idea of “self-care,” is the least selfish thing you can do for yourself. It may sound like an excuse to make that yoga class during lunch or forbid being perceived as lazy, but self-care can provide you the tools to remain calm, be more productive during your day, and not allow the symptoms of stress to take over. By adding elements of self-care into your work day, you are preventing the negative effects of stress, reducing the feeling of burnout, and restoring your focus.
Incorporate nature into your day.
It is suggested that people spend less than 5% of their day outdoors. Studies have shown that the impact of our highly-industrialized environments have both a physical and emotional impact on our health due to exposure to artificial light, noise pollution in the office, and poor indoor air quality. Although the negative health impact is well documented, one of the newest and yet oldest forms of relaxation being introduced is ecotherapy. The method emphasizes restoring one’s wellbeing and health by exposing yourself to nature or elements of nature.
Try to make it outdoors on your break. Use your senses to ground yourself back into the present moment by acknowledging your various senses as you walk down the street. Can you smell the sweetness of the flowers as you walk by? The sounds of the wind, people talking in the nearby café (if you work in a city), or even notice the silence. Take note of the details of the trees, from the changes in colors to the size of the leaves, this type of awareness will take your thoughts out of your hectic to-do list and bring you back into a state of calmness.
If you can’t make the time to get out of the office, bring nature to you. Add life to your desk with air plants, succulents, cacti (anything that doesn’t require too much sun or water) as well as pictures of nature, these simple elements of nature can add aesthetic reminders and similar feelings of connection, tranquility, and relaxation.
Create a mini vision board.
The power of positive thinking can keep you motivated to pursue your goals and give you the reminder of what you want to add to your life. Making a vision board for your desk can act as a visual reminder for all the values, dreams, and successes you strive for. Attract what you are seeking by creating a small board displaying a mix of images, words, quotes, affirmations, and to-do lists that represent whatever you want to be, do, or have in your life. This can act as a visual for you during those days where you need that internal pep talk to keep moving forward. It also acts as a piece of art for your desk and lets your authenticity be shown.
Create a stress-busting meal plan.
Stress can cause us to reach for comfort food and even affect how we digest and absorb our food so it is important to one, have healthy food choices and two, reduce our stress levels as much as possible. Maintaining a healthy diet at work can be simple by bringing a lunch with stress-fighting foods. Meal prepping the night or week before with foods that counteract stress is your best way to feel nourished and taking care of yourself. Such foods like dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and avocadoes contain magnesium to reduce muscle tension and aid in feeling calm. Also make sure to have enough protein to prevent those blood sugar crashes later in the day. Meals should also include plenty of antioxidants to fight free radical caused from stress as well as plenty of B vitamins to aid the central nervous system, your defender from stress. Also try and reduce caffeine consumption, sugar intake, and processed foods.
Don’t forget to breath.
Diaphragmatic breathing: The most basic relaxation technique; breathing from the lower stomach or diaphragm rather than from your chest. This type of breathing puts pressure on the vagus nerve in your stomach, which stimulates your body to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, the part of your nervous system that functions when in a relaxed state.
In a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down with your eyes closed, place your hands over your stomach and feel the rise and fall of each breath. Continue to concentrate on your breath and allow internal and external noises to pass through without holding onto the thoughts, always return to your breath.
Practice being present by having no judgment or attachment to your thoughts. Ways to do this include
Sitting meditation: sitting still, upright, with eyes closed with an undivided focus on your breath in and out.
Body scan: Focus your awareness from the top of your head down to you neck, shoulders, torso, down to toes and back up, paying attention to each body part one-by-one.
Loving kindness meditation: enhance your feeling of connection with others by observing your thoughts with intention of love and kindness towards people, animals, places, etc. to feel a sense of harmony. This is often done by repeating the affirmation phrase such as, “may you be happy,” with a specific person in mind.
Use natural stress remedies.
Use natural remedies such as aromatherapy and essential oils to help you throughout the day. Try rubbing a small amount on your temples, wrists, or neck.
Reduce anxiety and stress: lavender, rose, vetiver, ylang ylang, bergamot, chamomile, frankincense
Increase concentration: peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, citrus, sage, sandalwood
Adding soft lighting from a Himalayan salt lamp helps reduce negative ions, improve mood, and produce a calming light compared to artificial light.
Add pictures, small mementos, and anything that reminds you of the people who bring value to your life.
We all want to be the best possible version of ourselves both outside and inside the office. While it may be easier to take care of ourselves once we have signed from the work day, it is equally as important to provide ourselves with the tricks and tools to make our workday stress-free and successful.