Learning from the Pros: The Importance of Self-Care


All of us experience stress in the workplace. It may come from relationships with colleagues, the responsibilities we hold or even the monotony of an unfulfilling job. Whatever the cause of workplace worry, it’s important to take care of yourself so it doesn’t cause long-term problems. Preventive health care and self-care should be one of your priorities. After all, if you talk to those in high-pressure career fields, you’ll find that those who thrive take care of themselves first.

Pilots, healthcare professionals, police officers and many more professionals are responsible for the safety of others in their care. Some of their jobs even hold daily danger, but that risk is often not the most life-threatening challenge they face. Heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, addiction and other health risks caused by stress are sometimes just as hazardous.

So how do they handle it?

Here are 10 tips straight from the pros.

1. Remove avoidable stress
There is plenty of unavoidable stress in our lives, so why introduce even more? Think about what causes you extra anxiety – maybe it’s scrolling through social media, reading work emails from home or checking out the news right before bed. Analyze what actions you’re taking that make you feel worse, and then…stop doing them!

2. Plan for sleep and relaxation time
It may seem like you never have time to get enough sleep or take a few minutes to relax. But prioritizing both of these, even when life is hectic, is an important step in your self-care. If you need to, schedule in a half hour for unwinding before bed or put your ideal sleeping hours on your calendar. It may seem silly, but it will help you remember that these things are just as important as daily meetings and events.

3. Make the healthier food choice
Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t always easy, but it is a huge factor in your health. And even if you don’t struggle with your weight, choosing healthier foods just makes you feel better. If you’re on the road a lot, finding healthy options can seem impossible. But they’re out there – so make sure you’re choosing them more often than not.

4. Organize your routine and your environment
Chaos often equals stress. When your days are busy and you’re constantly jumping from one thing to the next, it can be difficult to stay calm. Organizing both your daily routine and the environment around you—whether that’s your office, your home or a hotel room on the road—can help relieve some pressure. Take some time on the weekend to remove clutter from your home. If you travel a lot, pack the same way every time, so you’ll know exactly where to find what you need.

5. Find a reliable support system
Friends and family often understand how you’re feeling, so reach out for emotional support. For example, go out for a quick coffee with a friend to vent or make a call home to hear about someone else’s day. If you’ve been feeling down, let your support system know you could use a pep talk or a distraction. They may be able to provide advice or make a plan to help.

6. Get some exercise
This is probably the most obvious on the list, but it’s one that many of us neglect on a regular basis. There’s nothing better for self-care than moving your body. If you’re too tired for strenuous exercise, just a 30-minute walk can improve your mood and health. It’s a great way to see a new place you’re visiting or to reconnect with neighbors.

7. Meditate, pray or choose a stress-free hobby
Have you ever tried meditation? It’s a great stress-management technique that you can practice at any time. Perhaps you find comfort in prayer. Many people find hobbies like cooking, reading or crafting relaxing. Find what helps you unwind, and then spend some time focusing in on that.

8. Learn your triggers and create a plan to handle them
Think about what makes your anxiety skyrocket or causes you to feel upset. Is it certain people, situations or events? We can’t avoid everything negative, but we can come up with positive ways to deal with them. Work on more constructive responses to difficult coworkers, try handling your most difficult tasks first thing or ask for help when you need it.

9. Detach yourself from professional problems when the time is right
At the end of the workday, leave your work worries behind. In a world where we take work email home on our phones and never seem to disconnect, this can be difficult. But often, we’re bringing it on ourselves. If that’s the case in your situation, strive to switch off your “work brain” when you walk out the office door. Learn how to detach from business situations that you’re taking too personally.

10. Seek professional help
Finally, never hesitate to get professional help. Sometimes our worries are bigger than day-to-day frustrations and require medical or therapeutic assistance. If you find that your stressors have led you to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs or alcohol, it’s even more important to be proactive and get treatment. Addiction, even in its early stages, can be devastating to your health and well-being. Find a doctor or therapist you trust to help you take steps toward resolution.

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