4 Easy Ways To Practice Self-Care At Work

The key to self-care at work is in making your workspace work for you, not against you.

If you’re sitting at your desk reading this, have a look around.  What does your workspace say about you?

Most of us try to find ways to personalise the space where we spend a large proportion of our day.  If you work from home, this is easier than if you work in an office.  Sometimes, it’s not possible to add personal touches, especially if you are ‘hot-desking.’

But wherever you are, there are some things you can do to keep your workspace uniquely you.  Adding a personal picture, a funky pen pot or even an inspirational quote.

How Does Your Workspace Make You Feel?

But how does your workspace impact your health? Take a few minutes and think about this.  When you sit at your desk, do you feel:

  • Excited?
  • Productive?
  • Energised?

Or do you tend to feel

  • Worn out
  • Tired
  • Pissed off?

If it’s the latter, there are many things you can do to practice self-care at work.

Believe me, when you adopt these techniques, you will feel a lot better.

4 Ways To Practice Self-Care At Work

1. Build Better Boundaries

There are times when you can deal with an interruption and times when you just need to work.

Look for ways to create better boundaries so you can keep your productivity high and your frustration low.

If you can shut your door when you need to concentrate, do so.  Let everyone know that when the door is closed, you can’t be interrupted.

If you work in an open plan area or at home, you’ll need to talk to those around you about how you can signal that you are not disturbed.  I know, easier said than done right!

The challenge Of Home Working

The challenge of working at home is that because people know you’re there, they think they can contact you or interrupt you at will. Unfortunately, they seem to forget that you’re officially working, so they pop round ‘just for a minute.’

But even when you work at home, you’re also interrupted by others in the household. For example, I work from home, but I need to keep my office door open because the dogs tend to move about. 

But my husband, who also works from home, would constantly interrupt me. So we came up with a small sign that I hung on the side of the door, which says do not disturb. 

When the sign is up, he knows I’m busy. However, I do need to remember to put the sign up and take it down; otherwise, the poor man gets very confused!

Working in the office

If you work in an office environment but don’t have your own office, try and come up with a way that lets your colleagues know when they can and can’t interrupt you. 

Or, if possible, when you are working on a particularly challenging piece of work, see if you can use a spare office.  Sometimes even sitting somewhere different signals that you can’t be disturbed – or it’s harder to hunt you down.

2. Keep Your Workspace Spick And Span

One of the simplest self-care at work practices you can adopt is to keep your desk and immediate work area clean and tidy. 

And by this, I mean clean up the clutter. 

practice self-care at work by keeping your work space clear

Only have on your desk what you need to complete the task at hand

Don’t be tempted to have lots of things on your desk.  For a start, they take up space. And, you’ll often find yourself losing things.

For example, how many times have you had to rummage around just to lay your hands on the pen that you were sure you had just a minute ago but now seems to have disappeared?

A productivity tip

One of the best productivity tips I learned was having only one piece of work on my desk at a time.  Anything else is a distraction, and if you are anything like me, it can be too easy to get distracted.

Trust me, it’s so much easier to find what you need when you need it. Preserve your sanity and get more done.

Another consideration is the sensitivity of what you are working on.  I worked in HR for many years, which meant I had a lot of sensitive and confidential information on my desk.  I found the only way to keep it safe was to limit the paperwork I had out.

End of the day, clear up

At the end of the day, get into the practice of putting everything away.  When you have less stuff out, it’s quicker to pack away. Then, when you return the next day, it’s like having a fresh start without all the baggage of yesterdays issues.


3. Escape to Eat

When you’re busy, it’s tempting to grab your lunch and eat at your desk.  We’ve all done it.

To ensure you’re looking after your self-care at work, get into the practice of allowing yourself to take a break. 

The problem with eating at your desk is you become tempted to keep working while you eat. Another thing I noticed is that when you’re eating, people tend to interrupt you more!

Even if you work from home, the very act of eating away from your desk can do wonders for your mental health. Go to another room or even just pick a different chair at the kitchen table as a way of telling your brain you’re done working for the time being.

Consideration For Others

And just as an aside, avoid eating smelly food at your desk.  It’s the quickest way to piss off the people around you, especially if the smell lingers on for the rest of the day.

Take a proper break and breathe

If you can, try and escape outside for some fresh air.  You’ll feel more energised and more productive afterwards.

When you sit at your desk for the whole day, you will become tired.  And when you’re tired, that’s when mistakes happen. So do yourself a favour, and take a proper break for lunch.

4. Reduce Screen Time

I know it’s not always practical to put away your laptop or tablet, but it’s good to do so when you can. After a few hours of staring at your screen, whether it’s your phone or elsewhere, you can become boggle-eyed. In other words, your eyes get tired.

The constant exposure to electronics can be very wearying and even cause damage to your body over time.

One way to practice self-care at work is to make a point of doing some things by hand. A great example of this is to have a manual to-do list. 

Find Alternatives to Screens

I know it’s tempting to use apps or to have your lists on the computer. But, when I changed my to-do list to a bullet journal, I noticed I felt a lot better.  Not only do I get a lovely dopamine hit when I tick something off, but I also give my eyes a rest.

self-care at work means taking a break from your screen

It might be old school, but having a manual to-do list helps you focus better

Another benefit I noticed was that when I moved away from the screen, I tended to stretch.  As a result, I didn’t feel so stiff and uncomfortable at the end of the day.

Also, clustering jobs that aren’t tech-heavy can give you a nice break during the day.

Final Thoughts

So, what does your workspace say about you?

The key to self-care at work is to make your workspace work for you, not against you.

Hopefully, the tips have given you some food for thought. 

When you pay attention to your:

  • Boundaries
  • Tidiness
  • Eating habits
  • Screen time

You’ll feel more productive, less stressed and enjoy your workday more.

To Learn More About Self-Care Check Out The Following

What Is Self-Care And Why It Makes You A Better Person

4 Quick And Easy Self-Care Rituals For Busy People

How To Make Self-Care A Reality

I also recommend that you assess your level of self-care on a regular basis.  To do this, have a look at this article - How To Assess Your Self-Care With 12 Powerful Questions

About the author Alison

A qualified UK based coach with 30 years of experience in personal development.

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