Putting Your Own Lifejacket On First

People are often afraid to take care of themselves because they are worried they will be seen as selfish, or because they are proud of how tough they are and think they can simply power through adversity, but we are all human, and we all need to take care of ourselves, in whatever way works best for us. And, if we truly want to be present to take care of others around us, we need to put our own lifejackets on first so that we can be strong for them. So self-care is not selfish – it’s essential.

The NHS have chosen the theme of ‘self-care for life’ for this year’s Self Care Week embracing the notion that we only get to have one life, so why not take care of it in order to live it to the fullest? In line with the rising awareness of mental health matters, and the importance of maintaining mental wellbeing at work, here are 5 steps towards Workplace Wellbeing, which was also the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day:

  1. Remember that everything you do is your choice

No one is forcing you to be anywhere or do anything, so make the most of where you are and make use of the power and autonomy you have everyday. Whether it’s choosing to do the job you do, or the company you work for, or how you commute to work every day, every single action you take has choices associated with it – channel this energy and choose to feel empowered rather than overwhelmed.

  1. Get clear on what’s important to you

This includes understanding how you define success, and how much you value your time outside of the office. Often we get absorbed into a culture of presenteeism without considering the detrimental effects this has on the rest of our lives. Figuring out what you value helps you to have clearer boundaries to make more time for the activities that recharge and energise you, which ultimately makes you more efficient at work too.

  1. Find your own way to check in with yourself

Whether it’s journaling, meditation (Headspace, the meditation app is very useful), and yoga, or it’s running with/without music, going on long walks, or even cooking – find an activity that allows you to switch off the noise we all get in our brains, and allow everything to settle. This will help you to get calmer, more grounded, and more able to deal with high intensity or stressful situations.

  1. Build or find your own support network

No man (or woman) is an island, and we all need allies, whether we’re struggling with something or we want someone to share good news with, having friends at work we can rely on is very important. It’s not about ‘networking’, it’s about building connections based on mutual respect and trust, knowing that you can understand and support each other.

  1. Remember it’s ok to ask for help

Often we resist asking because we’re afraid it will be seen as a sign of weakness, but people generally love helping! And we are human – we cannot possibly know everything and be able to do everything immediately. Admitting we don’t know something might feel scary at first, but it’s a muscle we can practice using, and after a while you might just feel how powerful it can be.

Siobhan Kangataran is the founder of ToGetHer Further and writer for the ToGetHer Further blog – if you are interested in contributing a guest post or interview for the blog, please get in touch via the Contact page.

**Please note this piece has previously been shared on the RICS Diversity & Inclusion website in November 2017.** 



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