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9 ways to practice real self-care

According to a 2017 study conducted by Kronos Incorporated, employee burnout is the biggest threat to the modern day workforce. In the final instalment of our burnout series, we explore nine realistic self-care strategies that can help prevent and manage stress.

1. Less is more

Saying yes to whatever your friends, family and manager ask of you can seem like the right thing to do at the time, but overcommitting is a real problem when trying to keep yourself balanced and productive. Taking a step back to reevaluate your schedule and dropping things that aren’t adding value to your life can help free up some much needed time, energy and mental space.

2. Unplugging

Technology has paved the way for some amazing innovations (thank you GPS!), but sometimes we can get WAY too caught up in the online world. Try carving out some time to go media and technology free. Time away from our electronic devices can really clear our heads, put things into perspective and bring us back to reality.

3. Let’s get physical

Our bodies were made to move. It’s no secret that too much time sitting or lying down can harm both our physical and mental health. So whether it’s yoga, swimming, dancing or short daily walks – find something you like and incorporate it into your routine. It may be hard at first, but the more we make exercise a habit, the easier it gets and the healthier we feel.

4. Breathing easy

Meditation can really do wonders for our health. Meditation allows us to calm our bodies and minds, and provides us with a framework to develop a healthier relationship with our thoughts and emotions. Don’t believe us? Trust Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who all practice meditation daily.

For a deeper look into how the practice can help, our friends over at meditation studio A-Space gave us a few insights:

The practice activates the ‘relaxation response’ in our bodies, which helps calm our nervous system. As a result, our heart rates, metabolic rates and the production of stress-related cortisol decreases.

Although challenging, over time meditation allows us to create space between ourselves and our thoughts and emotions, allowing us to make more rational decisions and avoid procrastination.

So while you continue on your path towards finishing a project, closing a deal, getting that next promotion, or whatever your personal goals are – consider taking five minutes out of your day to try this guided meditation.*

5. Green juices and chocolate bars

An essential part of self-care is not beating yourself up over mistakes, and moving on from setbacks quickly. Life is all about learning, and balance. So whilst discipline and routine are important, remember not to be too hard on yourself and treat yourself once in a while – sometimes you really do just need that chocolate bar.

6. Quality time with quality people

Building a positive network is one of the most important things we do in life. It’s the people around us that really make a difference. Make sure you’re spending time with people that lift you up, make you feel good, and inspire you. This includes mentors that you admire, friends you share laughs with, and family members who have your back. Building these supportive connections and long-term relationships are vital to self-care.

7. Try new things

What did you learn today? It’s important that we step outside our comfort zones from time to time. It’s the best way to grow and develop. Suggestions include attending a different gym class, trying out a new cuisine, or going to the snow for the first time! With each experience, you’ll discover something about the world and yourself.

8. The language of love

How we think impacts how we speak. Make a conscious effort to catch yourself when thinking or speaking negatively, and reframe your language into something more positive or constructive. Speak with words of respect and kindness, not only to others but yourself too.

9. Thank you very much

Committing to expressing gratitude on a regular basis can help remind you of all the good in your life, and prevent you from getting bogged down by the negatives. Try writing down five things you are grateful for at the start or end of every day.

Staying positive and motivated isn’t always easy when we’re balancing our careers, social life and family commitments. There are many different strategies we can use to combat burnout. Be gentle with yourself, start small and you’ll begin noticing the difference a little self-care can make.

*If you’re interested in learning more about meditation, check out this free 5-minute guided meditation from A-Space.

If you’re struggling with deeper issues or need greater health support, here are some organisations that can help:

Beyond Blue
Black Dog Institute
Head to Health
Mental Health Australia

Image by Kayle Lawson for A-Space.