Today’s post is by Astriid candidate and volunteer content creator, Holly Garrow. Keep reading to discover her advice for making self-care part of your workday!
Self-care is important for everyone but especially for those who are chronically ill. We spend so much time actively looking after our physical health, that sometimes mental health can take a back seat. When you are working, it is essential to remember that your health is still a priority. With that in mind, I’ve put together 5 tips for making self-care a part of your work day, to give you an idea on how to put your health first even while you’re at work.
Keep reading to find five tips for workers, as well as five tips for employers to keep in mind when supporting their employees with chronic illnesses.
- Stay hydrated. The platinum rule for life is to drink more water. Inadequate hydration will add to feelings of pain, fatigue and brain fog, so try your best to get in your recommended intake of water throughout the day.
- Remove the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary, and discourage others from using it in regard to you. Thoughts such as ‘I should be working harder’, or ‘I should have been doing this’ and even ‘I should be better at self-care’ can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety. Try to replace this with more mindful phrases, for example ‘I feel as though I am not working as hard as someone else but I have done my best’ and ‘I feel happier when I practise self-care so I will try and do this tomorrow.’
- Take full breaks and ideally separate yourself from your work as much as possible. If you are able, try to take a walk outside for some fresh air, or sit in another room with an open window. Do something nice for yourself during your break time, such as making a cup of your favourite tea, stretching or meditating, spending time on a hobby or calling a friend. Take a short nap or lie down somewhere comfortable if you need to. Whatever you choose to do, your break is about a respite from work so try not to let your job eat into this time.
- Make your workspace a nice place to spend time in. This will look different for everyone, whether you like a clean and minimal space or something more personal to you. Surround yourself with a space that makes you feel happy and calm.
- Be open and honest with your employer about your needs and don’t be afraid to ask for things that are well within your rights as an employee. You are not obliged to disclose information about your health, but you may feel more empowered and valued if you are confident that your employer is providing you with what you need.
- Ensure your physical workplace has optimal facilities. This includes a comfortable break room, properly measured desks and seating, and an accessible environment for all. Allow employees to personalise their workspaces and ensure there is adequate light and airflow. If possible, provide a dark quiet space with a comfortable sofa – for someone who is chronically ill, this can be a safe place for them to lie down and recover if they have a flare-up at work. For employees working from home, you should ensure that equipment that is properly measured and tested is provided.
- Where possible, provide your employees with healthy snacks and drinks – and the occasional treat too! This is one small way in which you can show your employees that you care about their wellbeing, so don’t forget to include those working from home in this initiative too.
- Encourage your employees to take full breaks – and practise what you preach. If you prioritise your needs, your employees will feel more comfortable prioritising theirs.
- Offer flexible and remote working patterns and arrangements. This is especially important for employees who are chronically ill and have to manage unpredictable and/or fluctuating symptoms. Providing flexibility can help reduce stress and sickness for your employees and increase productivity for you.
- If an employee chooses to disclose their health conditions, take some time to educate yourself on chronic illness and the Invisible Talent Pool, and research how you can best support them in the workplace. Join forces to create an environment that works for everyone.
Thanks for sharing your tips, Holly! Whether you’re an individual seeking meaningful work or an employer looking to diversify your workforce, sign up to Astriid and we’ll be happy to help!