When I entered the workforce in the late 1990s, working overtime, missing lunch breaks and banking up all your annual leave was seen as the noble thing to do. This was probably the result of entering the workforce at a time when it was influenced by the Baby Boomer generation. This generation grew up during the post-war years, and having a job meant security that put food on the table, which meant survival. It’s easy to see how a job was given top priority, and things like making time for recreation and leisure were far down on the list.
Fast forward to 2021 and the world of work has shifted. I was recently sent a link to a really cool place in Melbourne called the Cocoon Room. The Cocoon Room is where individuals and work-groups alike can unwind, unplug, and completely relax. What a fantastic concept. It got me thinking about how much the workplace has changed since I first started working. I feel so blessed to be living in a time where self-care is considered so important and places like the Cocoon Room exist.
When I can, I will be visiting the Cocoon Room. But for now, I want to take some time to reflect on what our workplaces typically look like now and take a deep dive into what self-care is, and why there is so much emphasis on the importance of practicing it.
Always being “on” in 2021
In our current working sphere, I have noticed a shift towards a more flexible approach to work. Thanks to modern-day conveniences like mobile phones, emails, and social media, we can now do our work from anywhere and anytime.
But is this a good thing?
Always being “on” and contactable can lead to feeling overloaded and overwhelmed. Constantly being worried about work matters can cause stress. Work-related stress is prevalent and costly to our nation; it is estimated that it costs Australian businesses a staggering $10 billion a year in lost productivity and sick days.
Thankfully, many employers now recognise the importance of having good mental health and the consequences of work-related stress. Work-related mental health conditions are now considered a work health and safety matter. Therefore, it’s commonplace for discussions around wellbeing and self-care to be conducted in the workplace.
What is Self-care?
Self-care is taking care of yourself so that you are functioning at your best to take care of the people and duties that are counting on you. Often when people hear self-care they immediately think taking time to be self-indulgent…or even selfish. But this is a popular misconception that is just plain wrong!
Basically, self-care means looking after all aspects of your health and wellbeing. From eating the right foods, maintaining your personal hygiene, getting enough sleep and regular exercise, right through to taking time out to just ‘relax and chill’. Self-care means being aware of everything you need to do to keep your mind and body fit and healthy.
Why should Self-care be practiced?
The old saying, “Prevention is better than cure”, applies perfectly with self-care. Too much stress on the body over long periods can cause:
This list is not exhaustive, but it certainly confirms how lethal stress can be on the body. But the good news is we all have the power to control stress; the beast within. And this is where self-care comes in. Being aware of looking after yourself is not just important; it’s a necessity.
How often should Self-care be practiced?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to self-care. It’s up to the individual, but the key is to build activities into your day that improve your overall state of well-being.
When it comes to practicing self-care, ‘slow and steady’ will win the race. The aim is to take time out for yourself doing something that makes you feel good. (Pro-tip, meditation doesn’t work as well if you hit the pause button every time a notification on your phone pops up!). A self-care practice could be as simple as a ten-minute walk each day at lunchtime or 20 minutes reading a book. What’s important is that you take time out for yourself regularly.
Self-care Pandemic Style
In March 2020, when the pandemic hit, life changed dramatically. Sure, life wasn’t easy before, but now that we have entered a time of absolute uncertainty, for many, hard just got a little bit harder. Over the last 18 months, most Australians have experienced some time in lockdown and doing normal things like going to the office, gym, movies, hairdressers, and catching up with mates at the pub have been off-limits. As we tune into daily press conferences to find out what tomorrow looks like for us, the mental load of lockdowns has been significant to many Australians.
Practicing self-care can’t change the circumstances, but it can help us cope with what’s out of our control.
Looking for self-care ideas?
The Creative Little Soul team share their self-care routines
As always, the team at CLS are here to help! They have generously shared some of their own regular self-care practices:
I love beauty face masks. Not only do they make my skin feel amazing, but they indulge me with some time out.
Essential oils in my diffuser. I have 2 in my house and have different blends and oils for different moods and vibes. Bedtime is more relaxing, chill blend. In my office it’s more uplifting and pick me up oils which are as good as a strong coffee.
Guilty pleasure is some trash reality tv, because sometimes it’s just good to zone out and not have to be a grown up.
Facetimes with my mom and sister or friends back home.
Hugs and cuddles from my partner Matt.
My community of people makes me feel supported and cared for.
I do yoga and meditation a few times a week
Getting outside on walks for fresh air at least once a week.
I love to stand in a hot shower and relax.
Coffee, chocolate, and wine are regular mood boosters for me too. I am very food driven lol!
Cooking. I always find it satisfying to see something delicious online (or think up some new recipe) and try to make it for myself!
I bake/cook something new that I haven’t tried before, and I also read fiction and motivational books.
Getting out into nature and escaping from the city is my favourite way to practice self-care. Putting my feet in the ocean, exploring a huge focus or even just a walk by the river really resets the mind.
I discovered Yoga with Adriene on You Tube a few years ago and I try to do yoga every day with her. I walk a lot. During the 2021 lockdowns, I’ve taken to growing bulbs under the guidance of my Mum.
In summary, self-care is really important. And personally, I am a big believer in the things we do every day make the biggest difference, and this can apply to things that are both good and bad for us. Self-care isn’t self-indulgent, it’s about filling your cup first, to give you the strength to look after everyone and everything else that is relying on you.
So, if you haven’t already built in some ‘me time’ into your regular schedule what will you be doing to look after yourself from now on?