Two weeks ago I decided to write about healthy habits you can implement in your workplace. This week I want to continue this conversation, but focusing it on taking care of yourself before you take care of others. This concept has so many stigmas behind it; as humans, we put this pressure on ourselves even before others put it on us. Today, a lot of organizations are actively looking for ways to relieve our stress, whether it is by giving more flexibility or by giving better benefits. Although not all organizations are at this point yet, I do believe we are headed into that direction.
Don’t get me wrong, work ethic is extremely important and shouldn’t just be put aside, but how can anyone expect you to be functioning 100% if you haven’t felt 100% lately. You wouldn’t go to your doctor’s office to treat a cold if you knew that they have the flu. There is no way a physician who has the flu has the energy to take care of their patients, and a physician in their right mind wouldn’t allow their patients to be exposed to a whole different illness by being seen by them. In order for the doctor to give the quality care, they need to feel energized and healthy. We work in a very similar way, we have been told to separate what’s happening at home from what’s going on at work and vice versa. In an ideal world, this would be the perfect formula, but we are human and we know that if things aren’t going well at home it becomes a distraction, just like when you have issues with your boss; you sometimes come home in a terrible mood and unfortunately, your family will see that. In order for you to tackle work at your maximum capacity, you need to make sure that you are already taken care of.
I know that this won’t always be possible. I have had times where I need to meet deadlines no matter what else is going on in my life and that’s just part of life. To avoid this happening too often, I always try to put myself in a good space and reiterate to myself that although I want to I can’t be everything to everybody. We all play multiple roles for multiple people and entities. I am a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, coworker, leader, volunteer to name a few and reality is there is no one time I am equally devoted to all my roles. During work hours I am more devoted to reaching goals and leading by example, at home I try to forget about that and focus on my different personal relationships.
In order to be able to handle all my roles and responsibilities, I make sure I have taken care of myself first. Taking care of myself comes in different forms depending on what’s going on around me. On my luckier days, I have the luxury of free time by myself and use it to catch up on reading, watching television, sleeping in, or catching up on different personal projects I have for myself. Realistically speaking this doesn’t happen as often as I like and sometimes taking care of myself looks more like making good food choices, taking some time to exercise, making sure I go to my annual physical exam, among other basic things I should be doing on a regular basis. When these things are taken care of I feel better about myself and more energized to continue working.
Whenever you feel burnt out, try to think about the last time you did something for yourself, chances are you haven’t in a while. Make sure you take some time for personal wellness and add it to your routine, even if that means you need to let go of a few things. It might be hard at first but you will thank yourself for doing so later on.