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Why Self-Care Leads to Business Success

“Self-care” has become a bit of a buzzword in the last few years, but do you know what the term really entails? As a matter of fact, it involves more than just face masks, green juice, and taking naps. Self-care is about “the care taken by individuals towards their own health and wellbeing, and includes the care extended to their children, family, friends and others in neighborhoods and local communities” (UK Department of Health, 2005). In short, self-care is all-around care and keeping all aspects of your life balanced.

The 7 Pillars of Self-Care as designated by the International Self-Care Foundation

In today's rapidly-evolving business environments, we often feel like we can't stop working for the fear of falling behind and losing the competitive edge. However, we rarely consider the repercussions of constant hard work. When we don't take good all-around care of ourselves, some part of us - our bodies, our minds, or even our work - will face the consequences.

With International Self-Care Day coming up on July 24th, read on to find out why self-care should be on your mind and how it can actually improve your performance as a business professional.

Self-neglect can have consequences

Do you walk into your workplace feeling anxious about an upcoming deadline or a big meeting happening later? Or perhaps your worries start on the commute to work. If so, you aren't alone - a 2017 Benefits Canada study showed that 58% of Canadian workers feel job-related stress on a daily basis. The most common reported reasons are heavy workloads and tight deadlines, trying to establish work-life balance, and unrealistic expectations of managers.

This is an increasingly common problem in many workplaces. Rapidly evolving business needs cause companies to want to move quickly and get more done in less time. Sometimes this can circle back and lead to repercussions on the people helping to make the changes themselves. Canadian companies lose an estimated $16.6 billion in annual productivity due to workers calling in sick as a result of mental health issues.

With these numbers in mind, keep yourself out of the statistics by adopting work habits that will allow you to be efficient and productive without sacrificing your health and wellness.

Bringing down your stress will up your productivity

Mental health, anxiety, and burnout not only cost employers dearly, they can also affect your individual health and performance as an employee. Of course, stress can't be completely avoided in a workplace. When handled in an unhealthy way, though, it shuts you off and reduces productivity.

Stress leads to physical problems like sleep loss, headaches, and can contribute to long-term diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease. Mentally, it slows you down by reducing your focus and motivation. Many people may think the best way to de-stress is to get more work done, but this usually only exacerbates the other issues lying underneath.

According to the TESI (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence) Model, “A team with good stress tolerance knows how well it's doing in managing … workload, time constraints, and the real need for work-life balance.” When each member of a team is aware of their own needs and is adept at managing their stress levels, it becomes much easier to cultivate optimism and positive working relationships while preventing secondhand stress.

To facilitate self-care, be mindful of your personal stress levels and prevent yourself from overworking. There are a few ways this can be done:

  • Take a break: Mental pauses are necessary for better productivity. Take a minute in between meetings for a breather for some time to yourself. Rest your eyes, take a walk, or jot down thoughts in a journal. And definitely don't skip your lunch break!
  • Communicate: Consider that taking on less work doesn't equate laziness or incompetence if it's what will help you perform better in the long run. Be clear when setting expectations with colleagues and managers to prevent over-promising and under-delivering on your work.
  • Optimize your workspace: Create a positive environment for yourself to work in. Decorate your desk with sayings and pictures that inspire you and make you happy. Plants and visually pleasing stationery can also brighten up your space. In short, make an area you actually want to work in.
  • Get moving: Exercise is a fantastic way to take a breather from the office while increasing your wakefulness and your physical health. Many companies offer fitness classes or gym memberships that make it easy to start, but you can also head outside for a quick run or yoga class.

As important as jobs are, it's also imperative that people take time to focus on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being first. You won't be able to work if you're sick, burnt out, or anxious. We need to take good care of ourselves before we can productively put out good work and innovate new ideas.

Book an appointment with your career advisor if you would like to get support on incorporating self-care into your career or job search!