By Michelle DeOcampo (former MHANYS staff)
Practicing workplace wellness and work-life balance is a challenge for many, especially for self-identified “workaholics.” There’s nothing inherently harmful in working hard or being immersed in your work, but work can negatively impact our wellness when it infringes on other areas of life including relationships, physical health, and leisure activity.
As a self-identified former “workaholic,” here are 5 strategies I’ve used to better practice self-compassion and self-care at work:
- Create a workplace wellness routine. I’ve found it essential to have a daily routine that incorporates the unique things I need to be well & work well throughout the day. My workplace wellness routine includes getting settled into the office without interruption, reading through emails & making my to-do list over a hot cup of tea, taking my lunch break, taking a screen time break, and staying hydrated throughout the day. Though the actions are simple, this routine helps keep my mind & body well, thus allowing me to work well too.
- Utilize support from co-workers. I’ve prioritized time to reflect on my work style. I ask myself: Do I find myself often working alone? Do I have difficulty sharing work, or delegating tasks to others? When the answer is yes, I know I need to think of ways to work more collaboratively & efficiently with my co-workers; and better communicate with my co-workers or supervisor when I need help.
- Make a list of my accomplishments. I’ve learned to give myself credit for both big wins, as well as the daily small wins too. I mark completed tasks on my calendar so at the end of the day/week/month, I can review my calendar to see all that I’ve accomplished. This practice helps me to build a positive sense of self-efficacy.
- Keep myself accountable to my time. If I plan to work an 8 hour day, then I will work 8 hours, leave, and enjoy my personal time. It’s easier said than done. To help, I practice being transparent about my working & non-working hours with my co-workers and supervisor, so they can keep me accountable as well. This way, I can take personal responsibility in establishing healthy work-life boundaries.
- Fill my personal life with enriching activity, too. When I’m greatly invested in my work, I feel a sense of thrill when I’m there. I feel that I’m good at my work; feel a sense of purpose; feel it defines my identity and status; etc. While these experiences aren’t inherently harmful, feeling this “high” at work can sometimes lead to feeling very “low” when I’m not working.
To counteract this, I fill my personal time with activity that makes me feel just as fulfilled – or even more so – than I do at work. I first had difficulty figuring out what to do, so I asked myself: “What am I working for?” After some reflection, I began to fill my personal time with family & friends, and started enjoying my vacation time. Doing so helps me feel balanced and fulfilled in both work & life.