How and why to promote self-care for greater career success for you or your teamJul 29, 2023
We are all living currently in very challenging and difficult times. Self-care is more important than ever at this particular time in our history. The current global situation is one of people just having recovered from the devastating effects of COVID. In the UK as well as elsewhere in the world, we are now faced with the cost of living crisis and other pressures. Under these conditions self-care can be an act of prevention, and taking a proactive role is crucial to avoid burnout as we will discuss later. So what is self-care? Let's start with the dictionary definition…
- the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health
- the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress
In this article we will explore what it is to practise self-care, and particularly how to fit this into your work schedule, and the business case for doing so. Whether you are an individual employee interested in how self-care could help boost your career, or whether you manage others and want to boost the productivity of your team…read on. The overarching message is that self-care shouldn’t be a luxury but should be seen as a necessity for everyone, to set us all up for a long, healthy and happy working life. For example, we will give ideas as to how to take breaks at work, and the all round benefits of doing so. If you manage others, would you like to reduce absenteeism and other costs to the business such as burnout? Then self-care is something for you and your team to practise.
There is a myth that self-care is selfish. We at The Careers Company want to smash that myth. Self-care is not selfish. It’s necessary. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, how can we give to our friends, families, hobbies, careers? In the event of an emergency on a flight, we are advised to put on our own mask before assisting anyone else. This is not seen as a selfish act, but a necessary one. If you need further convincing as to why self-care matters, let's look at the benefits of self-care in the form of greater career success. Not to mention greater happiness within our careers and lives generally!
According to a recent article from Unique Times (2023), “prioritizing self-care can lead to professional success.” This is broken down further into four areas:
- Increased productivity - when we feel better inside we are able to do more
- Improved mental health - greater subjective happiness and stability
- Better work/life balance - it’s not all about work!
- Increased resilience - ability to weather the storm
Let's look closer at each of these areas beginning with point 1. Another myth is that “working harder and longer is the key to success”, News18.com (2023). However, there is another way to increase productivity which is to work smarter, not harder. Cooper (2021) gives some suggestions for working smarter which may surprise you. These include “take more breaks, take an afternoon nap, spend time in nature”. These ideas are echoed by Unique Times (2023) who recommend we “take a break, go for a walk, or indulge in your favorite hobby.” Indulging in these kinds of activities is a win-win for you and your company. You will replenish your energy, free up your creativity, improve your overall health and wellbeing. All of this will have a positive knock on effect to helping you work smarter, not harder.
Now we turn to point 2: improved mental health. By incorporating these or similar suggestions in your working life, you will not only reap a range of benefits, but crucially avoid unwanted long-term effects and conditions. According to News18.com (2023) “neglecting self-care can lead to burnout, reduced productivity, and even long-term health issues, which can negatively impact your career.” Self-care is a way to set yourself up for long-term wellbeing and success. These unwanted long-term effects and conditions are not only deeply undesirable for the individual concerned, but also deeply undesirable and costly for the company that employs them.
Point 3 is reinforced by Corporate Wellness Magazine (2023) who state that an important consideration when setting career goals is work-life balance. While pursuing career growth is important, they argue “it's also important to prioritize self-care and ensure that your work schedule aligns with your personal values and goals.” Their advice is to “consider what kind of work-life balance you want to achieve in your career, and seek out positions or opportunities that align with those priorities.” Fit your work to yourself, not yourself to your work. Both you and your work will benefit from this shift in focus.
Point 4 is picked up by News18.com (2023) who state that “self-care is not just a luxury but a necessity that can enable us to sustain our career journey in the long run.” This idea of resilience and longevity is one we all need to take on board if we want to live in a way that is healthy, happy and sustainable over the duration of our careers. The bigger picture is that we want to live healthy, happy and sustainable lives. Full-stop. Career is just one part of the whole life. We are generally living and working longer. If we are to meet the requirement to work longer we need to take care of ourselves in all aspects of our lives - mentally, physically, emotionally.
So far we have looked at self-care and career success mainly from the point of view of the individual. However, if you manage others how do you promote self-care and therefore boost the career success of your employees? And what is the motivation for doing so? In a related article, Corporate Wellness Magazine (2023) emphasises focusing on the “Big Picture”. In their words, “the ultimate goal of corporate wellness programs is to improve the health and well-being of employees, which can in turn lead to greater productivity, reduced absenteeism, and lower healthcare costs for the company.” That is, self-care is not just something that is nice to do. It is the more profitable option when it comes to business.
If this all sounds good but you don’t know where to start, we’d love to hear from you. At The Careers Company, we are passionate about seeing the whole person, and helping them flourish both at work and home. Click here to contact us to find out how we can help you! Check out our blog here which contains more articles on all aspects of careers, including the importance of mental health awareness and wellbeing. We have a range of products to tackle different needs in the workplace for you or those you manage. A great place to start is Career Conversations With My Team which you can read more about here as well as our other products and services.
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