There is a certain culture of “busy” that makes jam-packed calendars the “new norm” in American society. As young professionals, it is easy to become consumed by work, logging extra hours and going to extra professional development opportunities in order to gain experience and advance professionally. I flashback to being at a work conference two years ago, myself sitting in a workshop, frantically scribbling notes in my notebook, hunched over, and keeping an eye on my email that was open on my laptop. The workshop topic was “Prioritizing Self-Care” and it was at that moment, while I was sitting there stressed and busy multi-tasking, that I realized our society teaches us to value being busy, productive and overworked! This makes it essential to intentionally design and structure your life and take the time to prioritize your own well-being. Self-care is not just important so that you can combat burn-out and return to work on Monday ready for another overly stressful week. Self-care is about centering yourself and realizing that you are a human being deserving of serenity, joy and happiness. This can be easier said than done, but I hope with the following tips below you can work towards building a practice of self-care that works for you!
- Start by decluttering your calendar. I like to remember that one can do anything but not everything. So to create time for a practice of self-care, see where you can free up some time. A few tips or suggestions for this include meal-prepping one day of the week so you aren’t spending time making dinner or running out to get take-out daily. Some people find cooking to be very calming and joyful, so, if that is you, meal-prepping can both be a time saver and an act of self-care! Bonus!
- Practice saying “no” and be selective with what you say “yes” to. Inevitably, both professionally and personally, people will make demands of your time. It is good to spend some time reflecting on what you value and what will help you grow. Be selective and say yes to professional opportunities that will give you a new experience or develop a skill you are working on while saying no to things that perhaps don’t achieve these goals. Be careful of saying yes to too many extra projects, assignments, committees, volunteer roles or social obligations. You will end up stressed and unable to focus on opportunities that you would enjoy or will help you grow.
- Build self-care into your daily routine. We are oftentimes taught that self-care has to be an expensive act of going to hot yoga for 90 minutes or getting to tour a brewery and spend the whole day there. These are great experiences. But a sustainable life of self-care is one that is not connected to your finances or having an entire day available. Do you have 15 minutes during the work day where you could do some basic stretches or take a walk outside? Do you enjoy binging a certain Netflix show and can set aside one evening a week to do so? Everyone’s acts of self-care will be different but the important piece here is that you build it into your schedule and practice consistency.
- Cut down on the amount of multi-tasking you do. Multi-tasking can save you time but also can make us not be fully present, which can create stress and anxiety. If you view talking on the phone with your best friend as an act of self-care and do it while you are replying to your work email, you probably aren’t as focused on your friend and are stressed by upcoming work deadlines. Make a promise to yourself to be fully present while practicing self-care and don’t let other activities hijack your self-care time.
By: Olivia Keithley ’16