Society has placed the hustler mentality and workaholic lifestyle on a pedestal. We tend to praise those who lose sleep for their job, romanticize the struggle for success, and view people who work long hours as successful in their career. Many of us have been preparing our whole lives for our future career, and once the career is secured, it can be easy to get lost in our new identity and forget ourselves.
It can be difficult to find the balance between job performance and personal wellness, especially in corporate America. Deadlines have to be met, profits have to be made, and company growth must be attained. Your boss makes your rules, their boss makes their rules, and the cycle continues. Although the job titles change as you move up the ladder, one thing is clear: self-care isn’t a priority in the workplace. Change begins with the people in charge so here are some workplace self-care gems your boss should know.
Self-care increases job performance
Think about it, is your job performance best when you’re tired, irritable, stressed out, or anxious? Probably not. As with everything in life, we must be okay FIRST before trying to help others. Self-care can help improve concentration and quality of work. When employees have enough mental and physical energy to pour into their work, job performance naturally improves.
Self-care can be done on the job
Implementing self-care into the workday doesn’t lead decreased productivity. Use 30 minutes to meditate in your car or a quiet area at work. Take scheduled breaks to walk around or get some air. Pack a balanced meal that will refuel your body instead of eating fast food. Decorate your workspace with pictures, quotes, and colors that will lift your spirits. The average American is at work more than they are at home, so try to make your desk, cubicle, or office feel as much like home as possible. These small efforts can make a big difference in the long run. Ask your boss to encourage employees to apply these tasks into their work routine and thank me later.
Lack of self-care can lead to burnout
Burnout is defined as the exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. Some consequences of burnout in the workplace include depression, cynicism, and ineffectiveness. There are many ways your boss could prevent burnout including:
Enforcing reasonable work hours
Using positive affirmations
Creating an environment that welcomes honest communication from employees
Setting realistic expectations
Encouraging taking breaks from the work environment
Reinforcing self-care creates a better workplace environment
Imagine if you could go to work and leave the rest of the stress that life brings at the door. What if your job became your happy place instead of the place you wanted to avoid? Self-care can make this a reality if consistently used. However, it's the responsibility of upper management to set the tone and morale of the company. it's important for bosses to not only lead by example, but also enforce self-care just as they would any other workplace guideline.
Your boss needs self-care too
In our attempts to make sure others are doing well, we often forget about ourselves. The same rationale applies to our bosses. Think about how many people your boss is managing. Now, think about how much time your boss has to perform their own self-care while being in charge of an entire staff. Your boss most likely needs self-care the most and by consistently using workplace self-care techniques, your boss will hopefully be more encouraged to require employees to do so as well.
Self-care has mental and physical benefits
Self-care can reduce the physical symptoms that accompany stress. That includes headaches, acne, upset stomach, insomnia, and weight gain. Self-care tactics like exercise, meditation, a balanced diet, and a consistent sleep schedule provide mental and physical advantages that positively affect work performance.
Self-care can lead to reduced healthcare costs
The physical symptoms of stress can result in more company costs for health insurance. More severe stress symptoms such as depression, high blood pressure, and muscle tension may lead to more coverage needed for mental and physical healthcare. Effective workplace self-care is good for the employees and the company as a whole.
Healthy self-care strategies can reduce bad coping mechanisms
Workplace stress is dealt with somehow, but not every approach is healthy. According to this article by the American Psychological Association (APA), people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, smoking, or abusing drugs and alcohol. By killing two birds with one stone, self-care can simultaneously reduce employee stress and increase their overall health.
Self-care can reduce staff turnover
Ask any boss at any company, hiring new employees isn’t fun and it takes a lot of time away from actual work. However, a workplace environment that values profit over people has the potential to suffer from high turnover rates. As mentioned earlier, excessive workplace stress can lead to burnout, which will probably lead to high turnover rates if something doesn’t change. Prevent this, boss, by taking a little extra time out of every day to perform self-care and create an environment that encourages your employees to do so as well.
Self-care can improve quality of life
Happy employees = successful businesses. Self-care can improve one's personal and professional life, which may result in a fulfilling job experience, increased employee retention rates, and overall job satisfaction. Think of employees as family members. If you had the power to make your family’s life easier or better, would you? Well you do now. You have the power to change the quality of your work family’s life and it truly takes little to no sacrifice. Start small, take one or two suggestions from this article and add it to your daily routine. Assess the difference in how you perform professionally and then begin to set the example for your employees and hold them accountable for their wellness. You may be surprised at how company culture, job satisfaction, and business profits change for the better.
Zoe is a graduate student from Houston currently obtaining her Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at The University of Texas at San Antonio. She is very passionate about mental health and wellness and is an advocate for self-care and therapy. Zoe believes that all people should invest in their mental health and that we become our best selves from the inside out. You can see more of her work at thelifetherapist.org