Work is stressful.
That's a sad fact of life.
Even at the most chill jobs, there can still be some stressful times. There will always be long days that leave you exhausted and wanting to curl up on the couch and binge Netflix for 13 hours.
I may have a little experience in that...
We all have those days. When work gets tough, I usually wait until I get home and then I spend some time practicing self-care with a few of my favorite ways to unwind.
But what if I can't wait to get home?
Well, what if practicing self-care at work was an option? Beat the stress before it gets so overwhelming that I go home and just crash?
Self-care at work can be a bit tricky. It's not like being at home. You can't stop in the middle of your work day to do yoga, take a bath, and have a glass of wine.
That's usually frowned upon.
(And if it weren't, then you'd officially have the best job ever)
But self-care doesn't have to be that elaborate. There are simple, little things you can do throughout the day to care for yourself and keep the stress at a minimum.
And, just for you, I've made a list of things you can do right now, at work, to relax a little.
Make yourself a cup of tea
I've probably said this about a thousand time. There are some magical benefits from having a cup of tea.
That warm cup in your hands, the blissful smell of herbs and leaves...
It's relaxation in a cup.
Taking a short five-minute break to enjoy a hot cup of tea can do wonders for your stress level. I know it can be difficult to believe that something so small could make such a big difference.
But it does.
Every afternoon, when I feel like I can't make it one more minute sitting at my desk, I have tea time. It's a five-minute break from everything.
I sit with my hot cup of tea, close my eyes, and just enjoy the warmth and the flavors.
It's like hitting reset on my brain. I'm able to focus better afterwards, and all the stress has melted away. I look forward to tea time every day.
Still have your doubts? Try it for a week. You'll be a believer in no time.
Keep a cozy throw or sweater at your desk
This shouldn't be any surprise: you're going to be less stressed and feel better if you're comfortable.
Really, who ever heard of being stressed out when you're super cozy?
It has been my experience that most offices are freezing. Like working in an igloo. Being so cold is uncomfortable, which can takes way most motivation for getting anything done.
And, honestly, being cold just makes me unhappy.
Self-care is all about doing things that are good for you, reducing your stress, and making you happy. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that none of you hate being comfortable or snuggling up in a blanket. Am I right?
(If you do hate being cozy, you are probably in the wrong place right now)
listen to music
Listening to music is my all-time favorite way to boost my mood.
If you're allowed to wear headphones at your desk while you work, put together a playlist on Spotify of songs that make you happy.
After a few tunes, you'll be feeling better in no time.
Wearing headphones is a double bonus because it also blocks out other noise. This will help to create a safe, happy place for you to quickly recharge and be more focuses on your work.
I'm very sensitive to sounds, so having some music to listen to at work is a life-saver.
Having to listen to all the workplace noise can be incredibly exhausting. I never used to think of an office as noisy, but put together printers, computer fans, chatty coworkers, screaming children (yes, where I work there are occasionally screaming children), it all adds up to a stressful kind of noise.
Spend your lunch break outside
I'll be the first to admit that I don't do this as often as I should.
But days when I do spend my lunch break outside in the sun are the best days. Getting a little sunshine is so good for you and so relaxing. Go for a walk, get some fresh air. You'll be glad you did.
If you were in a rut before, you won't be after some sunshine.
But if for some sad reason there is no sun or if it's below 50 outside, you can ignore this bit of self-care.
Learn to take breaks
What happens if you never take a break? You get burnt out and exhausted.
We've all been there. Tons of projects and deadlines piling up. The idea of taking a break seems absurd.
Taking breaks is so important for your mental health.
Learning to take breaks can be a great form of self-care. All of the self-care ideas we've talked about so far can be done on a short break. But, taking a break can be as simple as standing up and walking away from your desk for a few minutes.
Sometimes I don't even walk away from my desk. I just sit, close my eyes for a minute, take a few deep breaths, and then I feel much better.
Spend 5 minutes looking at puppies or kittens
Ok, so I know this one sounds ridiculous, but it works.
Sometimes we just need to look at cute things or things that make us happy. That makes sense, right? And what could possibly be cuter than baby animals?
Since I have so many fluffy animals that live at my house, I keep dozens of pictures of them on my phone.
I have more pictures of cats than anything else.
They are easily accessible so if I'm feeling like I need a little self-care, I just pull up some pictures of my fluffy favorites. But Pinterest works just as well. Search for 'baby animals.'
Works every time.
But, I will offer this warning: searching for baby animals is a black hole. Set a timer or you may never get work done again!
Declutter your workspace
Cleaning up my workspace is one of my go-to self-care activities.
My desk gets cluttered fast with craft projects and papers. It all just kinda appears out of nowhere sometimes. But all the mess has such a negative affect on my mood.
If I feel myself getting a bit stressed, I'll take about 5-10 minutes to completely clear off my desk, giving myself a clean and open space to work and think. I even took things a step further last year and completely made over my workspace. My cubicle is now a little corner of "home away from home."
Having a space that is my own keeps me grounded. It's my safe space.
If you struggle with keeping your desk clear, too, it might be time to carry minimalism over into your workspace. It can be tricky at first, but just making a few changes will go a long way.
I try to put several of these self-care ideas into practice every work day. It's amazing what a difference just a few simple things can make.
That cup of tea and a lunch time walk can be the difference between getting home energized and cheerful, or getting home exhausted and wanting to veg out in front of the TV.
(But I'll probably still binge Netflix anyway)
14 Day Self-Care Challenge
Over the next 2 weeks, I'll be walking you through all the different dimensions of self-care and helping you make time for you.