10 Steps to Better Self-Care

As I write this, my team and I are winding down our busy period. This time of year is full of contracts expiring, contracts renewing, and new contracts being drawn up. The numbers must be tight, and we have real people to answer to and look after. We are, after all, a people business. Without our consultants, Projectline and the Projectline way would not exist.

The sheer cyclone of work in this period is understandably stressful. There’s that important meeting to take. There’s that interview that could end up filling the exciting new role that we’ve landed. There are bill rates to calculate. There are emails to write. Amid all that, we have managers to answer to, teammates to help, and reports to support. How do we make room for all these things? Without batting an eye, we work long hours, put off spending time with loved ones, and perhaps even eat poorly.

All too often, this easy dismissal of optimal behaviors is chalked up to necessity to keep up. It isn’t until something harmful or catastrophic occurs that we take stock of how this might affect our well-being. For some of us, this can be too late.

Rather, it is prudent to be proactive about caring for our own mental, emotional, and physical selves. If help or support is needed, one should try to obtain it. The benefits are clear:

  • Self-care encourages us to have a healthy relationship with our work. Our lives should not be tied to the work that we do, rather work should be a healthy, fulfilling supplement to the lives that we want to live. Stepping away from a project, taking a walk, or calling a loved one are great ways to manage our work lives and ensure that they integrate in meaningful ways with the lives that we want to live.
  • It has been proven that our physical health suffers when we don’t engage in self-care. We eat poorly, we don’t exercise, we neglect hygiene, and we don’t sleep enough. Taking time to be mindful about our bodies and minds yields immense health benefits that can be noticed immediately.
  • Enjoyment of life. This sounds cliché, but life is short and precious. We have responsibilities—paying student loans, calling the plumber, or mopping those hardwoods. We also owe it to ourselves to take care of ourselves. Making time for the simple pleasures or activities that contribute to our daily fulfillment can go a long way in ensuring that we feel more purposeful.

Not sure where to start? Here are 10 simple steps that anyone can take to get into the habit of self-care:

  1. Eat a fruit or vegetable as often as you can.
  2. Take breaks when necessary.
  3. Be comfortable advocating for yourself and saying “No.”
  4. Laugh. Even if it means watching that same “Office” episode that you’ve seen 26 times. (Who’s counting?)
  5. Spend time with people who contribute to your life.
  6. Meditate or do some deep breathing for 5–10 minutes. Looking for an app to guide your meditation? Check out the Headspace app!
  7. If you don’t run, do some jumping jacks in your office.
  8. Stay away from emotional drinking.
  9. Be intentional about considering your reactions to stimuli. Catalogue them if you can.
  10. Simplify.

Start today. Do something small. Create the snowball effect.

Let me know if you have further tips or want to continue the chat over at @mynameisgino on Twitter.