Self-care isn’t a new concept, but its new imperative is evident as we learn about the personal effects of the pandemic. Google “self care” and wade through the 2.5 billion results. Or check out the 41.5 million #selfcare posts on Instragram. It’s not hard to see that self-care has evolved from a little known medical treatment for the elderly and mentally ill in the 1960s to the far-reaching practice it is today. With one year of pandemic life under our belts, consideration should be given to practicing self-care at work.
Self-care is any deliberate activity you do to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. For some, feeding the mind, body, and soul is a pedicure or reading a good book. Others may look to a HIIT workout or arts and crafts for much needed refueling. Given the significant impact of self-care on one’s health, these concepts can and should be applied to the work environment. The total health of your workforce drives your organization’s success, especially as your organization recovers from the pandemic and looks for ways to thrive in this environment. It’s time for organizations to embrace remote workers and what they need to be top performers at home.
In the past year, as I struggled to maintain my own sanity while trying to set a good example for my team, the time-honored truth that “human capital is an organization’s most important asset” has taken on more weight. It’s not enough to say it and believe it, we must show it. Every single day. Leading your team on a fun Zoom yoga stretch is good for morale, but there are institutional solutions for supporting your team. Sustained, measured, and deliberate solutions that demonstrate an ongoing commitment.
I offer three lessons learned on integrating self-care into the work-from-home environment:
- Take a lunch break and return smarter: Lunch isn’t only about food. A lap around the block can do wonders for your productivity. A 2014 Stanford study looked at the creativity levels of people walking versus sitting, and found that creativity increased 60 percent when walking.
- I’m getting older and staring at the screen doesn’t help: Adults in their 40s start to have trouble seeing clearly at close distances. I’ve crossed that hurdle, but for my younger colleagues, the American Optometric Association describes in painstaking detail what age-related vision changes to expect as you get older. Regardless of age, everyone can benefit from the 20-20-20 rule to help reduce eye strain caused by looking at your computer screen for too long: Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at something 20 feet away.
- Lights! Camera! Action! Embrace the video meetings: When you are confident, you are more effective. Improving your online self is a form of self-care. I know this is challenging if you don’t have a separate workspace at home. As we move into a new year of work-from-home, consider whether your online presence conveys what you need your audience—clients, prospects, colleagues, direct reports, vendors, your boss—to see, hear, and feel about you. With this in mind, I ended up getting a wifi range extender, external camera with microphone, ring light, headset, broadcast microphone, and window blinds. That’s probably more hardware than most people need and virtual me will likely be better than real me. There’s a lot to unpack here, so I suggest starting with 12 tips for making your virtual meetings more professional or 6 ultimate webcam tips (watch the short video tutorial).
Organizations should foster a sense of wellbeing in their workforce and promote self-care. I hope to see you for a discussion on how organizations can address and support wellness issues. If you can’t make the live event on February 18, register anyway so a link to the recording will be sent to you.