6 Ways to Take Care of Yourself at Work


Recently, I wrote about what you can do for the people you work with to leave them in better shape than you found them. So, I thought I’d turn the tables and talk about what you can do for yourself. Because taking care of yourself is important. It’s essential. To do your best work.

And we all want to do our best work, right?

It’s so easy to make excuses for why you don’t have the time to take care of yourself. And it’s not your fault. You’ve been brainwashed by the always-on, available 24/7, hustle culture that tells you must work until you drop if you want to do great things.

I call bullsh*t!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The hustle is not sustainable. It’s not healthy. And it’s not a good long-term plan. It’s the fast train to burnout town.

You know what is a good long-term plan? Figuring out how to make time to take care of yourself. How to devote time to yourself each day.

To rest. To recover. To take a break.

Because you need and deserve it. And if you don’t, you won’t be able to do all that awesome work you’re so excited about doing.

So here’s the thing. You might be sitting there, reading this and rolling your eyes. And there was a time when I would have done the same thing – so I get it.

The never-ending pile of papers is looming on your desk. You have no hope of getting to inbox zero, in fact it sounds like a sick joke. When you get home, there’s more to do – helping your kids with homework, solving the never-ending “what’s for dinner” dilemma (my personal least favorite). And on, and on.

Trying to figure out how you’re going to make time to take care of yourself at work feels ridiculous. Because duh, if you felt like you had time of course you’d take care of yourself.

But here’s the thing, you’ll never have time if you don’t make time. And making time is one of the best ways to start making the commitment to prioritize yourself. Psst, that’s a good thing!

Will some things need to be sacrificed so that you can make time to take care of yourself? Yes. Does it feel impossible right now? Yes, but I promise you it isn’t.

Take a moment to open your mind to the idea that its possible. Because you are so f*cking worth it!

To help you stretch your imagination, here are 6 ideas to get you started.

  1. Take your lunch break. This is a simple one. So simple it may seem silly. But it’s not! And I’ve been shouting it from office rooftops for years. Leave your desk. Take a break. Go to lunch. Get out of the office. I repeat, GET OUT OF THE OFFICE. Go for a walk or just sit outside if the weather is nice.
  2. Turn off your email notifications. You know, those annoying little pop-ups that show up and make that pesky dinging noise every single time an email comes in? They’re a distraction. A stress-creator. And at the very least, annoying and unhelpful.
  3. If you’re on vacation (or out sick) don’t check your email. Really, everything will be OK. Your workplace will survive without you. Vacation is a time to disconnect, relax and enjoy yourself. So you can go back to work refreshed and ready. If you’re doing work (and checking email is work) while you’re on vacation, then it’s not really a vacation. Is it? Same goes if you’re out sick and not feeling well.
  4. Be unavailable. Stop instantaneously responding to texts and emails around the clock (see 2 and 3). Not everything is urgent. Seriously. And by treating everything as an emergency that requires an immediate response, no matter the time or what else you’ve got going on, you’re not only training yourself to operate that way but you’re training everyone else to expect it.
  5. Take breaks throughout the day. You’ll do better work. You’ll be more efficient and effective (and your boss will love that, right?). And you’ll feel less frazzled. I promise.
  6. Move your body. Find ways to move around during the day. Get up from your desk (see 1 and 5) and stretch. Take a walk around the office (or, dare I say, outside). Do a little desk yoga. Be the brave weirdo that does jumping jacks in her cubicle at 3pm each day.

These may sound like small things. But it is often the tiniest shifts that make the biggest changes. And change is what you’re after. Because, you can’t keep functioning like this. Something’s got to give.

So now I’m curious to hear from you. What else would you add to this list?