Self care means intentionally prioritizing your own basic needs for health, relaxation, stress reduction, and the pursuit of personal interests. While this term may connote shirking responsibilities so that you can spend a day at the spa, it simply means being aware that without recharging your own batteries, you will burn out or perhaps suffer from physical or even mental illness. The need for self care is universal, but it is particularly important for those who put in many hours at work or devote time and energy to other people or purposes. Simply put, with that amount of energy extending outward, it is essential to then pull that energy back in and restore your inner resources.

It may seem like the demands of a high pressure job can make it challenging to set aside the time needed to engage in quality self care, but with some simple routine changes and a mindful attitude, even the busiest of people can build in self care on a daily basis. Here are 3 tips for self care that even a workaholic can (and should!) accommodate.

  1. Find 5 minutes for a self check-in. You know you have it somewhere, but if you have to, get creative to carve out 5 minutes of your day to do a self check-in. Start by scanning your body for feelings and sensations – this could be anything from noticing your shoes feeling tight on your feet to recognizing a tension headache in your left temple. You can also tune in to the sounds around you, what you smell, and even the taste of your coffee. This short mindfulness practice will reduce your blood pressure, heighten your self-awareness, and likely leave you feeling more refreshed than when you began.
  2. Be a better breather. Most of us hold our breath or take shallow breaths when stressed or tense. Be aware of your breathing patterns, and when you can, try to slow down your breath and follow it with your attention from inhale to exhale. If you can do this for just a few seconds every day – perhaps in a meeting, on a conference call, or while drafting an email – you will reap the relaxing rewards.
  3. Be technology free… if only for a little bit of time. It can sound impossible to put away your phone or laptop when work demands soar, but keep in mind that you will likely be more focused and more motivated to work if you spend some time away from your technology. So, make an effort to turn away from the screens throughout your day, even for just a few minutes. For example, set your alarm to wake up and then set another one to go off 10 minutes later. Make a rule that you may not use a screen until your second alarm goes off. Do something else in this time like meditate, stretch, or make your coffee or tea with mindfulness.

Rachel E. Goldsmith, MA, MSMFT