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We live in a world where a true work/life balance is really difficult to achieve. Many of us don’t have the luxury of totally disconnecting when we are away from the office. Learning to maximize life when you’re outside of work will help you to unplug when you’re able, be present in the moment, and make yourself a priority without forgoing other responsibilities. Over the next few blogs, we will be highlighting strategies that you can incorporate day-to-day to help you move from work/life balance to maximizing life outside of the office.

One way to achieve this maximization is learning how to engage in “self-care.” The term “self-care” has become a buzzword recently. We are constantly told that we should be engaging in self-care, but what does it really mean? Self-care is often portrayed as getting massages, taking fitness classes, and lighting candles. While these activities are all amazing ways to treat yourself, it will be hard to maintain this routine day-to-day and week-to-week. Today, we’re breaking-down the goal of self-care.

What Self-Care Is Not

Let’s start by dispelling a few myths:

1) Self- Care is a way to avoid work or procrastinate

First off, the practice of self-care can actually help you to maintain focus, motivation, and drive. We aren’t robots who can work non-stop! Allowing yourself time to recharge and regroup is incredibly important in supporting your work performance. For example, eating healthy, exercising, and getting sleep are all examples of self-care activities, and all three are proven to help your productivity. Second, self-care activities can actually be used as a reward for completing difficult or challenging tasks at work. Rewarding yourself for completing work can be very motivating in helping to overcome procrastination. Third, sometimes it’s not the physical work that we bring home with us that is the most draining, but it’s the mental impact of what we do day-to-day. Self-care is crucial in helping to prevent burnout by making sure you are making yourself a priority, even during times of workplace stress.

2)Self-care means acting selfishly

There’s a difference between acting in one’s “self-interest” and acting “selfishly.” Both terms signify the same intent- you’re acting in a way that is best for you. HOWEVER, when we act selfishly, we disregard others’ needs. Sometimes to take care of ourselves, we do need to put ourselves first! We can be there to help and support others, but this can become impossible if we don’t take care of ourselves first. Creating boundaries and standing by our needs isn’t always easy, and others may not be thrilled with our decisions. But, by communicating concern, demonstrating respect, and negotiating and problem solving, we can act in our self-interest without ignoring or disregarding others.

3) Self-care means engaging in activities because they’re good for me, even though I don’t love doing them

Self-care is the exact opposite! Self-care means engaging in activities that you enjoy. Just because someone else likes to go for a massage, or enjoys meditating, that doesn’t means those activities will work for you. Self-care is all about planning and engaging in activities that you are excited about, and where the focus can be on you. Also, self-care practices don’t have to break the bank! Eating healthy, going for walks in the middle of the day, and getting into bed early are all great options for supporting your well-being.

So, What is the Goal of Self-Care?

Now that we know what self-care is not, what is the goal of self-care? Self-care is participating in behaviors, activities, or practices that support your mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being. While developing a self-care routine is helpful in managing feelings of stress, overwhelm, and/or burnout, implementing a consistent self-care routine can actually help you to prevent those feelings.

Interested in learning more about self-care? Check back next week for BEW's 5 tips to designing a self-care routine that works for you.

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