Balancing a busy career with your own personal life is an ongoing challenge, and the pressure to perform at your best, take on big projects, and increase your productivity at work can leave you feeling drained once you’re home. The problem is, with the way that today’s world sees being constantly busy as a positive trait, there’s little time to invest in self-care.
But when you’re constantly going at full speed without giving yourself time to recover, you’re setting yourself up for burnout. It’s impossible to do your best work and tackle big projects well when you’re stressed, exhausted, and mentally drained. If you want to invest in your professional career, fitting self-care into your busy schedule is one of the best ways to ensure you can keep performing at the top of your game.
To manage and implement self-care techniques, you need to start paying attention to what’s going on with your body, both mentally and physically. Recognizing when you’re feeling unusually stressed or are experiencing a high degree of anxiety can help you understand the factors in your life that may be making you feel that way. If you know you get anxious when you have looming deadlines at work, then it’s important to schedule some self-care even though you may be feeling overwhelmed.
This can be one of the most difficult ideas to master when it comes to scheduling self-care. Naturally, when things are chaotic at work and you have a big project due, you’d want to buckle down and even work overtime so that you get ahead on that project and take some of the pressure off. But doing this again and again only adds to your anxiety, and when you’re anxious, it’s less easy to focus and you’re more likely to make mistakes.
Instead, resolve that even when you’re at your busiest, you’ll make time for self-care. Maybe this isn’t the time to take off to a three-day retreat, but you can still budget some time for a daily walk, playtime with your kids, or a coffee with friends. Remember that taking this little break for yourself will allow you to return to work refreshed, and that will pay off in increased productivity.
Do you have vacation days that went unused last year? You’re not alone. In 2017, Americans accumulated a staggering 705 million vacation days that went unused, and 52% of employees reported that they had unused vacation time at the end of 2017. By the end of 2017, Americans forfeited 212 million unused vacation days.
It can be difficult to schedule a vacation, but it’s something that you should prioritize for your health’s sake. Going on vacation has many positive health benefits, including reducing your risk of a heart attack, boosting your immune system, and reducing the chances that you’ll suffer from anxiety, stress, or depression. If you needed another reason to justify taking a vacation, traveling can boost your creativity because it allows you to see new things and new locations. So yes, that vacation could help you to be more creative at work when you return.
As part of your self-care routine, make sure that you take a vacation at least once each year. When you do head away, disconnect from your work life. Try to travel without relying on your phone and laptop, and get someone to cover for you at work so you truly don’t have to worry about any work commitments. Plan your vacation well in advance so that you can avoid any scheduling issues at work that might conflict with your travel plans. Then, enjoy your time away.
Create Health Goals
Budgeting time for self-care is tricky. It’s easy to make a commitment to taking more time for yourself now, but when life gets busy, that commitment tends to slip away. Setting concrete goals, especially when it comes to your health, can help you stick to those commitments that you decided to make.
When you make goals for your mental and physical health, write them down and include lots of detail. If you want to improve your mental health by reducing your stress, decide how you’ll do it and how often. Write down a goal such as, “I will spend at least one hour four days a week doing a relaxing activity I enjoy, like yoga or going for a walk.” You can set similar goals for your physical health, such as deciding that you’ll exercise for an hour on four days a week, or that you’ll train for and run a 5K by the end of the fall.
Knowing how important self-care is for your health, it’s time to make self-care a priority. Remind yourself that keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy is truly an investment in your career. Budget time out in your calendar and be firm about the time that you’ve set aside. That scheduled time is important for your health, and it’s what will allow you to continue to do quality work in the future.
This guest post was authored by Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer, mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader. And then dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons, without getting groans and eye rolls in response.