9 Ways to Practice Self Care at Work + Exercises

by Bestow Team | May 08, 2020

While self care is simply the practice of taking care of ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally, it can sometimes be too easy to get caught up in other things and ignore our own needs. 

In the workplace, it’s especially easy to neglect self care while we focus on work tasks. A large number of employees report eating their lunch at their desks or skipping the break altogether, which can lead to increased feelings of stress and burnout. 

It’s important to focus on self care exercises whenever possible. Taking short breaks at work to cater to our emotional, physical, and mental needs can help us become overall happier people — while boosting productivity. 

Jump down to the infographic below or read on for some tips on at-work self care that exercises you can do during your breaks.

How to Practice Self Care at Work

Getting into a self care mindset can be tough — but at the end of the day, it boils down to making yourself and your needs a priority. Some ways to practice self care at work are:

  • Drink water throughout the day: It’s recommended that we drink a half gallon of water per day to stay hydrated and energized. 
  • Say no to projects or tasks you can’t complete: Taking on too much work can lead to emotional and physical burnout. 
  • Be transparent with your boss about your emotional needs: Keeping your boss in the loop with your emotional needs can help them support you.
  • Use your breaks to detox from work: Treat a break like a break. Walk away from your desk and use that time to recharge instead of working from your desk.
  • Eat healthy snacks while working: A healthy diet can boost your mood and help you feel lighter and more energized. 
  • Make your desk a relaxing space: Getting rid of clutter in your work area can help you focus and feel less stressed.
  • Set boundaries with your coworkers and boss: Don’t enter discussions or events that make you feel uncomfortable  — you aren’t obligated! 
  • Ask for help when you need it: Your coworkers and boss are there for you when you need them, and are a good resource for when you need help. 
  • Make a close friend in the office: Work friends can relate to your specific work struggles and act as a support system throughout the day. 
  • Don’t let mistakes bring you down: Remember that everyone makes mistakes, so don’t get down on yourself when you do. 

There are also many short self care exercises that can be easily woven into your daily work routine. Read on for some tips.

Mental Exercises

Being at work can get repetitive, but there are many ways you can exercise your brain while in the office. Completing mentally stimulating exercises at work can help cure boredom on slower days while improving your memory, focus, and recall.

Do a Crossword Puzzle

Crossword puzzles are scientifically proven to improve brain function including memory and attention. Working on a crossword puzzle is a fun activity that can help keep your brain sharp. Crossword puzzles are an easy on-the-go activity because there are many available online, and physical puzzle books come in many different sizes. 

Practice a New Language

Learning a new language is a fun way to sharpen your brain, memory, and decision-making  — plus, these skills may come in handy if you travel abroad! There are many quick, virtual language-learning activities, including Duolingo, that can help you start learning a new language. Or, language activity books are often filled with many short activities. 

Listen to a Short Podcast or TedTalk

There are thousands of podcasts and TedTalks — free, online discussions distributed by Ted Conferences  — that cover a wide range of topics. A bonus: these TedTalks are all free to access online. There are also many podcasts available that cover fun, educational or interesting ideas. Examples of short, stimulating podcasts include “Brain Training,” “The Memory Palace,” and “How to Do Everything. Listening to these talks or podcasts during your break can help you learn about things you’re already interested in, as well as discover new interests.

Physical Exercises

Sitting down all day can have negative effects on your body and mind. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain, increased feelings of anxiety or depression, heart disease, and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. Getting up and active on work breaks can help combat these negative effects. 

Take a Short Walk

Taking just five minutes to walk during the workday can not only improve your health, but also your mood. What’s more, a change of pace and scenery can help you creatively when working on challenging tasks or to ease a creative block. 

Exercise at Your Desk

There are many short, easy exercises that can be completed from your desk or break room. Some examples:

  • Arm Circles: Hold your arms outstretched and move them in small forward circles, then small backward circles. Do each side 20 times each. 
  • Wall Push-Ups: Instead of on the ground, these push-ups are done by standing a few steps from the wall and placing both hands shoulder-width apart on the wall. Lean forward like a normal push-up, and repeat 15-20 times. 
  • Squats: Squats are a popular exercise that can be done any time. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and lower your body until you’re in a sitting position, then stand again. Repeat 20 times. 
  • Jump an Invisible Rope: Mimic jump roping, only without the rope. Hop on both feet at once, or alternate standing on one then the other. Jump as many times as you can in one minute. 
  • Wall Sits: Another popular exercise, wall sits involve leaning against a wall as if you’re sitting, only without the chair. Hold yourself in this position for 30 seconds, take a 10 second break, then repeat. 

Do Some Stretches 

Benefits of stretching include increased flexibility, improved posture and decreased back or shoulder pain. Take a few minutes to stretch your legs, arms and neck while sitting at or standing near your desk. 

Emotional Exercises

Depression can cost employers an estimated $44 billion per year in lost productivity, and half of those dealing with depression in the workplace don’t seek treatment. It’s important to focus on your emotional wellbeing and mental health while at work. Read on to find out how you can prioritize your emotional wellbeing on the job.

Do a Guided Meditation 

Just 5 minutes of meditation can decrease stress levels and improve overall productivity. You can follow along with a meditation app, or simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing for 5 minutes while making sure to focus on your thoughts, feelings, and breaths. 

Listen to Music

59% of workers said listening to music boosts their mental wellbeing at work. Listening to a band you like on your break can help you feel happy and energized. Try to listen to and focus on your music without looking at social media or work. 

Do Art or Color

There have been many studies done on the benefits of art and coloring, including improved focus and sleep, and reduced stress and anxiety. Buying a coloring book or free-handing it with paper and markers can help you get creative and have fun while on your break. 

By trying out a few exercises, you can find a routine that works for you. Try to incorporate a mix of physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing practices into your workday so you can better focus on every area of your life.

For more ways to care for yourself and those around you, contact Bestow for a life insurance quote

Sources: BetterHealth | HR Dive | Snack Nation | Healthline | Inc. | Beaumont | HR Exchange Network | Peak Wellness | Arizona State University