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When COVID-19 upended our lives at the beginning of 2020, we entered a new era of unprecedented uncertainty—and we’ve been living in limbo ever since.
An article in the Harvard Business Review confirms that our brains weren’t built for this much uncertainty. Over time, our brains have “evolved to be uncertainty-adverse,” and being in a strong state of threat “leads to decreases in motivation, focus, agility, cooperative behavior, self-control, sense of purpose and meaning, and overall well-being.”
Many of us were already overworked and not taking very good care of ourselves, and when the pandemic hit, it shone a spotlight on those areas of neglect. The lockdowns also gave us the rare opportunity to pause and reflect on our lives.
One of the silver linings that has emerged is a heightened focus on self care, along with understanding why it’s so critical to our daily lives.
Our December webinar brought together a panel of experts, including two therapists, a people operations specialist, and a personal transformation coach. They shared their perspectives on why self care is so important for your employees, how to identify what you need, and small steps you can take to feel better right now.
What is self care?
Our panelists agree that self care looks different for everyone, depending on your unique needs. This can range broadly from meditation, journaling, and being in nature to cooking and spending time with friends.
It often means saying no to something that could negatively affect your mental health, so you can say yes to what you need.
The greatest myths about self care
As awareness around the importance of self care has increased, so have the myths about it. Do any of these sound familiar?
I’m too busy. It’s not really that necessary. I’ll do it after everything on my to-do list is checked off.
To counter the “I’m too busy” myth, Tou Ger Lee, ICF Accredited Personal Transformation Coach at Spring Health says, “A lot of the time, self-care doesn’t have to be putting more on your plate. It can look like taking things off. Cut out the bad media, for example, to create the time you need for self-care.”
What can you take off of your plate in 2022? What could you take off your team’s plate to give them more time to take better care of themselves?
The biggest myth, which can also become the biggest barrier to self care, is “I feel selfish.” Believing that self care is selfish can block you from giving yourself what you need when you need it most, and an effective way to begin changing this belief is to reframe it.
Ask yourself these questions, and dig deep to uncover the answers:
- Why do you view self care as selfish?
- Where are these messages coming from? Are they true?
- What changes when you view self care as a necessity, instead of a luxury or lofty goal?
How to identify what you need
Since self care looks so different for everyone, and as we begin a new year, you may be wondering how to determine what you need to be at your best.
Shlomit Liz Sanders, LMFT, CCTP, is a licensed therapist at Spring Health, and encouraged webinar attendees to think about self care as caring about yourself and for yourself–which includes thinking about how we speak to ourselves. Our inner talk track is often highly critical.
She says, “Think about someone you love, and how you show that love for them and take care of them. Now come back to yourself, and how you take care of yourself. Do you fall a little bit short?”
If so, Lee recommends examining the five areas of personal health: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social.
Do a quick self assessment right now, by asking yourself these questions:
- In which of these five areas do you need to take better care of yourself?
- What’s one thing you can begin doing today to improve this area?
- Start small and keep it simple—this ensures you’ll continue doing it
The next right step for you could be working with a therapist or a coach to go deeper into those neglected areas, begin developing a kinder inner voice, and build an action plan with the accountability you need to achieve your goals.
At Spring Health, we provide personalized mental healthcare for you, your family, and your entire team. You can learn more about our services here.
How to feel better right now
As we begin this new year, you may be looking for a few simple strategies to help you feel better at work until you're able to dedicate more focus to your wellbeing.
Here are three steps you can begin taking today:
- Journal: Start your day by writing 1-3 things you’re grateful for
- Schedule 2-5 minute breaks on your calendar throughout the day, to give you time to recharge
- Block your calendar during lunchtime to eat—and honor that time
Starting small makes it easier to be consistent, and when small acts of self care become part of your routine, they no longer feel optional or time-consuming. As Lee says, “A lot of a little can make a huge difference in your day.”
Watch the webinar on demand to go deeper into how you can develop an effective self-care practice in the New Year–and encourage your teams to do the same.