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Anyone who has worked a day in their life will likely know a thing about the stress that working day-in and day-out brings. Second only to worries concerning financial matters, one’s work life is the second-biggest cause of stress in the US, an even more impressive number when considering how inextricably linked are our finances and profession.
In an effort to understand today’s workplace culture, The American Institute of Stress reported that among other concerning statistics, over half interviewed stated that they often spend 12-hour days on work-related duties and an equal number frequently skip lunch because of the stress of job demands.
Without attention to our professional self-care, we run the risk of becoming more self-critical, less focused and stressed. Procrastination of tasks and getting distracted can make employees feel like they are stagnant, overwhelmed, and unable to get out from under a massive workload.
Ideally, you will have found yourself on a career path where you have been able to cultivate an opportunity to ‘Love what you do, and do what you love’. True, working in an environment or a field that doesn’t fit your personality and your goals can cause burnout, depression, and anxiety. However this is not always the case, and we are not always so lucky.
While you may need to contemplate a career change, take the time to first think about what you are putting into your current situation. In any given day, identify the aspects of the job that you find most exciting or are most passionate about. Use these as rewards for completing more menial tasks. Best practice suggests setting manageable goals each day and giving yourself 2-3 prioritized tasks to focus on.
When you feel overwhelmed, remember that it is often all in our mindset. When we procrastinate, the magnitude of what we need to accomplish appears to only grow until it seems impossible. However, remind yourself that you are capable and it is possible. Divide it up into smaller tasks, and complete the smallest bit until you work up your confidence to achieve more.
Take pride in the space that you work in. Whether that means a minimalist and organized work station, or one filled with motivational quotes and mantras; remember that where you spend your time affects the way that you feel about yourself and your work.
Perhaps taking the time to clean up an overflowing mail pile seems tedious, however, it might be that this is the task needed to truly clear your mind. Maybe it’s bringing in a new set of sticky notes or your favorite pens; incorporate things into your work life that bring excitement and rejuvenate your spirit.
Arrange your workspace so that it is comfortable and inviting, and don’t be afraid to mix it up, especially if yours is the type of job where you are able to do work from home or at a coffee shop a couple of hours or days a week.
Throughout Your Day
Remember that a balanced day is the key to a balanced life. Give yourself permission to schedule in “white space”, or time to decompress. Take regular breaks, especially after completing difficult tasks, whether this looks like chatting with your colleagues, a walk to the coffee shop, having lunch outside and away from your desk, or taking a walk around the block to ‘get your steps in’.
In all these ways, self-care is vital for individuals that are prone to feeling burnout, especially when other areas of life are suffering. The steps to alleviating this are simple: first, identify when you are starting to feel overwhelmed and tempted to resort to procrastination. Start small, build on existing routines and good habits you already have in place, and remember that self-care is a practice rather than a quick fix.
Our physical, mental and social health are often threatened by a world that prioritizes productivity over the needs of individuals. To counter this phenomenon and achieve an overall state of wellness, it is therefore important to structure your life in ways that suggest the importance of self-care through developing habits that improve your physical, intellectual (psychological, emotional and spiritual) and social well-being (relational and professional).
At Riviera Recovery, we are dedicated to helping you develop the habits that you need to succeed in life. Give us a call today to find out more!
Many people might overlook this aspect of self-care, despite its absolute importance for maintaining our mental health. pea
Regardless of your religious beliefs, do not fall into the error of reading this section quickly or skipping it completely. Indeed, taking care of oneself spiritually is not only about simply believing in a deity but about the connection with something greater than ourselves, and applies to atheists, agnostics and non-religious people.
True, due to a rise in modern reliance on reason over faith, Americans seem to be looking less and less to religious institutions to define their social, cultural, and moral identities. A growing share of Americans is beginning to define themselves as “spiritual but not religious”, at an increase of 8% between 2012 and 2017. This, according to the Pew Research Center does not describe a moral deficit, but rather, new expressions of one’s spirituality.
Spiritual self-care corresponds to maintaining contact with your values and what really matters to you. This type of self-care allows you to have long-term goals in life and to develop a sense of belonging to a noble and important cause.
Here are the main tips to increase attention towards your spiritual self-care:
Engage in Regular Reflection.
Whether it is through meditation or prayer, take the time to think about the ultimate goal of your existence, and what you are seeking out of life.
Be open to inspiration
Allow yourself to be inspired. Seek out inspirational videos or Ted Talks, read inspirational literature or quotes, or even listen to that podcast of that famous person you admire. Find ways to lean into your optimism and hope for the future, and allow that to inform your daily identity.
Be open to not knowing
Try at times not to not have to be in charge or to be the expert. Allow yourself to learn from others, ask questions, and admit that you don’t have it all figured out. Find the courage to ask for help, and embrace your own vulnerability.
Be open to creativity
Be creative, whether through art, music, writing or anything else. Sing your heart out, or pour yourself fully into the art of making.
Engage in Meaning-Making.
Lean into the nonmaterial aspects of life: spend time in thought about what you are passionate about, whether it is a relationship, person, or project. Identify what is means to you and notice its place in your life, whether that is spending time with children, nurturing a connection to a spiritual community, or contributing to causes in which you believe. Give of yourself, and volunteer as often as possible.
Engage in Thoughtful Thinking.
If you believe in a specific religion, find out more about the roots of your beliefs and perhaps even explore the shared beliefs and nuances of other religions as well. Read poetry from similar time periods or track philosophical thought throughout the ages.
And while it’s important to take time to think critically about religion, also allow yourself to get lost in its message. Spend time in nature, and allow yourself to get swept up into experiences of awe and wonder.
If you missed it, check out Self Care: An Introduction; The importance of Physical Self Care; Psychological Self Care and Emotional Self Care.
Next Up: Relational Self-Care
We know that the human being is a highly social creature. However, even in the ultra-connected era in which we live, while connectivity is at an all-time high, a true connection seems to be lacking.
While social networks certainly allow us access to more people, these connections are often superficial and insignificant. Yohann Hari, in his book Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, states, “The Internet was born into a world where many people had already lost their sense of connection to each other. The collapse had already been taking place for decades by then. The web arrived offering them a kind of parody of what they were losing—Facebook friends in place of neighbors, video games in place of meaningful work, status updates in place of status in the world.”
Our well-being depends very closely on the quality of our relationships. Thus, when subject to a life absent of healthy relationships, we lose our sense of self-esteem, our capacity for empathy and compassion, and our mutual support. This often leaves room for a focus on individualism that encourages isolation and creates conflicts. Under our current economic system, we are often rewarded for these behaviors as well, but more on that in our next segment.
Here are some tips for improving the quality of your relationships:
The easiest and most effective advice to follow to improve your relationships with others is to smile. Smiling reduces aggressiveness, hacks your brain’s reward system to release dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, and tends to help others’ have more positive perceptions of you.
Compliment People More Often & Be Sincere.
Keep track and notice the positive changes or the progress made by the people around you. Sharing with someone the ways that they have made a positive impact on your life, or even that you admired the way they handled a situation, can be a powerful gift, for you and for them. Taking the time to expand your focus onto others can have a huge ripple effect in your relationships.
Meet New People.
There is nothing quite like the intoxicating feeling of getting to know someone new, and connecting over a shared interest. C.S. Lewis’ famous quote reads, “Friendship is born at the moment where one man says to another, ‘What, you too? I thought I was the only one…’”
Nurture Important Relationships.
Spend time with people that you like, or time connecting with them via phone or writing and sharing updates. Check in with family members as well, and nurture your ability to ask for help. This also includes being the one to take initiative in organizing activities with these people to increase the quality of time spent with them.
Complete a Digital Detox.
Digital detox refers to a period of time during which a person abstains from using electronic connecting devices such as smartphones and computers. Regardless of the length of the detox, it is considered an opportunity to reduce stress or to increase focus on social interactions in the physical world. Benefits include increased awareness, decreased anxiety, a better appreciation of one’s environment, and approaching the world in a more person-centered way.
In Close Relationships:
Spend Alone Time with Your Romantic Partner.
Firstly, see ‘digital detox’ above. More than just spending alone time together, engage one another in stimulating conversations, continue to seek understanding of the complex inner world of the other. Try not to spend all of your time together “doing” and cultivate a practice of just “being” together.
Develop Your Listening Skills.
It is absolutely impossible to achieve good long-term relationships when you are unable to listen. Embrace the fundamental idea that ‘you do not need to agree with what is being said to listen to what is being said’. Try to stay out of fixing the problem, invalidating feelings, or stealing the focus of the conversation.
Admit Your Wrongs.
One surefire way to make sure that you avoid happiness is to “be right, always right. Be the only one who is always right and be rigid in your rightness.” On the other hand, willingness to admit your shortcomings tends to go a long way in creating authentic and lasting relationships.
While by no means is this an exhaustive list for how to have a good relationship, shifting focus to some of these practices will certainly help to increase relational wellbeing and overall life satisfaction.
Next up: Professional Self Care.