October is an opportunity to celebrate and remind us of the importance of creating a healthy workplace. After all, many of us spend a fair bit of our time at work and work-life does impact our health.
Is creating a healthy workplace as simple as providing opportunities to “move more” and offer “healthier food choices” at meetings? It depends on how health is defined and what individual health goals are.
A comprehensive approach to workplace health sets the stage for getting at the fundamental drivers of health in organizations – how we manage, how we communicateand how we make decisions- all of which are also important when thinking of personal health and self-care.
What I do know is this – self-care is important! It is not selfish to take care of yourself. In order to be the best that we can be, we need to care for ourselves. Most would agree that health is more than the absence of disease; it encompasses physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.
My self-care, for example, is very individual and I try to integrate it into my work day. Here is what self-care means to me:
To Be Active: I like walking, short distance running, gardening, hiking and going to the gym with my co-workers at lunch. Activity is how I manage my stress – it is a vent for me.
To Read: it is nice to get lost in a good book. Although personal development is important to me and I have a lot of those sorts of books - I always have a good non-fiction book handy.
To Write: I don’t ever intend to publish my writing (I am not a grammar expert and I am sure a publishing company would balk at my efforts). I simply love writing my thoughts down and creating stories.
To Embrace Silence: One of biggest stressors is noise – it may have something to do with being hearing impaired. It is vitally important for me to sit with no background noise and enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine and just “be”. This is “my meditation”.
To Enjoy Time with Family and Friends: Most important to me is FAMILY and FRIENDS and food is usually included (I am a dietitian after all). I truly believe that a family meal nourishes the soul. I like simple, “real” food that is purchased locally when possible.
What is important to you and your coworkers? A simple way to find out is to ask them to finish the sentence: “For self-care, I choose to …..” You may discover common interests, like walking together at lunch or an after work reading club once a month. Your workplace team can also start building a repository of “self-care” and “creating a healthy workplace” resources. A few are listed below as a starting point. Enjoy learning more about your own self-care and those you work with.
Resources to consider:
Coping with Stress (includes Stress Index test)
A Closer Look at Self-Care
by Bonnie Smith Conrad, RD