When it comes to self-care at work, we tend to let it slip down the priority list fairly easily. When you’ve got a hundred things on your to-do list, taking 5 minutes to take a quick stretch doesn’t feel like a priority.

But if we don’t take time to practice self-care at work, our performance suffers. Massively. Research from HBS professor Amy Edmondson has shown that performance is optimised when both accountability and psychological safety are present. This philosophy can also help you as an individual.

Practising self-care at work doesn’t need to come at the expense of your productivity. In light of Mental Health Awareness Week (23rd – 29th of September), we’ve put together some simple thing you can do to weave self-care into your workday to optimise performance and increase productivity.

1. Your desk is your castle

Think about it. You spend five days out of seven at your desk. If things are important to you in your personal life, they should be incorporated into your workday to promote optimal wellbeing and performance. If fitness and health are important to you, get a standing desk. Do certain food choices impact your mood? Don’t bring them into your workday. Fluorescent lighting killing your concentration? Invest in a warm-light lamp for your desk. Don’t be afraid to request the things you need to stay happy and healthy at work.

2. Rest and reset

Many of us know we should be getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night, but we’re also prone to a late-night Netflix binge. The struggle is real. How much fuel we put in the tank plays an important role in our work performance during the day, so make sure to catch as many Z’s as possible throughout the working week. If work demands late nights, carve out one or two nights a week that are for sleep. The same concept applies to our workday. Try to schedule in a walking meeting once a week, and take advantage of your lunch break. Any chance you have to refuel means big productivity later on.

3. Put a value on good working relationships

Studies show that strong interpersonal relationships in the workplace can lead to an increase in team and organisational productivity. On an individual level, they contribute to our overall health and longevity. They’re also critical for self-care. Taking stock of who feeds your energy and who drains it can be a useful exercise in the workplace. Investing time into those who inspire you to do your best and setting boundaries for those who don’t can set you on a direct path to self-care success.

4. Cut yourself some slack

It’s all too easy to get caught up in perfectionism. When the weight of responsibility and accountability weighs heavy, we’re our own worst critics. Creating space for imperfection and vulnerability creates optimum psychological conditions for work. Putting a lid on your internal critic suddenly opens up a world of possibility. Ask yourself, how would I advise a colleague if they were to exhibit feelings of self-doubt? And heed your own advice.

Taking care of ourselves is one thing, but looking out for others is another. Checking in with colleagues and friends is equally as important. The more we open up the conversation about mental health, the more normalised the conversation becomes.

Keen to chat all things mental health in the workplace? Our recruitment experts know a thing or two about optimising performance. Speak to an expert today.

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