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Self-care and work-life balance: How to take care of yourself

September 10, 2022 - 16 min read

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Taking care of yourself is always the first step

10 self-care practices to achieve work-life balance

Overlooking self-care can be costing you a lot

No, you don’t need to be busy all the time

Your feelings are always valid

How can a coach help you?

We shudder to think of people who don’t believe in prioritizing self-care. Before the pandemic, one survey found that 67% of Americans put the needs of others before themselves and even felt guilty when they did take time for themselves. But 68% of those respondents wished they spent more time taking care of themselves. 

Regardless of what’s getting in our way, we need to include self-care in our daily routines. After putting in long hours at work, who wouldn’t want to uphold their work-life balance with some personal time? Self-care and work-life balance go hand in hand. 

We know that’s way easier said than done. It’s easy to feel like we’re too busy for it. 

That’s why we’re here. Take a deep breath, find a comfortable spot, and read on to learn how to take care of yourself and uphold a healthy work-life balance.

Taking care of yourself is always the first step

When people ask, “How do you maintain a work-life balance?” we always answer by saying we need self-care. 

Some people might see self-care as a trend, but it’s here to stay. One study found that 73% of Americans became more conscious of practicing self-care in 2020. Plus, 69% said they planned on incorporating more self-care into their routine than in the years before. 

We know that the workplace has plenty of stressors. When you’re too busy to relax, your energy levels diminish, and engaging with work gets harder. These workplace stress triggers might lead to exhaustion or burnout and interfere with your stress management techniques, indicating that you need a better work-life balance.

The importance of work-life balance isn’t only about having the time to put your feet up. Work-life balance demands that we disconnect from our jobs and devote energy to our personal lives. That might mean a full social calendar, a regular exercise plan, or weekly relaxation rituals to limit stress.

But the bottom line is that we create a lifestyle that allows us to value our professional ambitions without forgetting that there’s more to life.

Our lifestyles should allow us to easily take time to improve our well-being and mental and physical health, rather than feeling like that’s impossible. To do this, we need to know what self-care practices work the best for us to uphold our work-life balance.

If you need extra support to incorporate self-care into your work-life balance, discover how BetterUp’s coaches can help you create a plan that works best for you.

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10 self-care practices to achieve work-life balance

One fun thing about self-care is that it looks different for everyone. Some people prefer to meditate, while others want to work up a sweat. Learning how to have a good work-life balance means that we incorporate self-care into every aspect of our lives. This means we’ll find ways to care for ourselves at work and home.

These self-care practices are a great way to work on self-improvement. If there’s something we want to improve, like our sleep schedule, we can add it to our self-care list.

Here are 10 self-care strategies as examples to help our work-life balance:

  1. Get enough sleep. Let’s be firm with our bedtime. We’ll start by prioritizing a nightly routine that helps us relax, like drinking tea or using essential oils. This will also help us wake up early, giving us more time for more self-care and slow morning routines.
  2. Practice mindfulness and meditation. Carving out time in our day to reconnect with ourselves allows us to be more in tune with our emotions. Practicing mindfulness and meditation doesn’t require much time, so we can sneak these in on our lunch breaks or after work.
  3. Go for a hike. Time for some physical activity. Going for a hike also gives us the chance to breathe some fresh air, connect with nature, and appreciate a change of scenery. 
  4. Learn how to say “No.” It’s great that we want to help others, but we also need to learn when to put ourselves first. Next time a coworker asks us for help on a project, and we’re already swamped, say no to prioritize our energy and time. 
  5. Unplug from social media. While social media is handy for connecting with others, it’s also draining. Muting our notifications, limiting app usage, or having a weekly digital detox will help us have better personal time or be more focused at work.
  6. Set boundaries with others. Setting boundaries in our professional and personal lives helps to keep our relationships respectful. Don’t be afraid to sit down and have conversations with people about setting healthy boundaries. This is an act of self-care. 
  7. Spend quality time with people. Our social connections uplift us. Even if we aren’t extroverted, quality time with your support system is helpful to recharge. 
  8. Let go of being a perfectionist. Some things don’t go our way, and we don’t always have full control. Next time a work project doesn’t turn out how we hoped, let’s be proud of ourselves for what we accomplished.
  9. Explore new places. Traveling is exciting, but it doesn’t have to be extravagant trips. Try exploring a new coffee shop in a different neighborhood or eating at a new restaurant every few weeks.
  10. Take care of our hygiene: Besides doing a face mask, we can take a soothing bath, do a foot scrub, or even just brush our teeth. Whatever helps us feel clean, fresh, and rejuvenated is a great self-care practice.

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Overlooking self-care can be costing you a lot

Think about your past workweek. How does your body feel after finishing work? How much time did you spend at work? How much did you spend at home with your loved ones or doing something you enjoy? When you overlook your self-care because you’re working too much, you’ll face consequences you need to avoid.

An excessive workload and overworking will upset your work-life balance. Of course, you have a lot going on at work, but that doesn’t mean you should shrug off your self-care practices. If a few days are busier than the rest, it’s okay. But constantly working too much leads to chronic stress or burnout. Your motivation will slip away as you drain all your energy and ignore your passions. 

Your excessive workload won’t just impact you, either. Your relationships won’t be as strong, and your loved ones will notice when you stop making time for them. 

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Start to improve your listening skills. Listen to your mind and body after each workday. Do the work hours drain you? Sometimes, you’ll have to cancel your plans or skip your workout to rest. And that’s OK. If you don’t, you’ll become physically and mentally exhausted.

Take the time to learn your cues, and keep track of when you’re running out of time to practice self-care. That’s when you need it most.

No, you don’t need to be busy all the time

You might marvel at people who seem to have infinite energy to do things. But in fact, you shouldn’t. That’s hard to do when you feel guilty if you aren’t doing anything. Your intrusive thoughts make it difficult to relax because you keep thinking of all the other things you could — or think that you should — accomplish. 

Perhaps you’re used to a lot of stimulation, or you’re a workaholic. Workaholics feel like they should be working at all times. They have persistent thoughts compelling them to work, even after putting in more hours than necessary. 

If you’re a workaholic, it’s time to realize the importance of having downtime. Prioritizing rest over action is nothing to feel ashamed about. Carve out time in your daily routine for nothing but self-care.

Block time off in your calendar to remind you how important it is to slow down. You can spend this time meditating, socializing, or doing absolutely nothing. Either way, let yourself enjoy the rest you deserve.

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Your feelings are always valid

Working on your self-care practices and work-life balance isn’t all sunshine and roses. If something’s bothering you, whether professionally or personally, have the self-advocacy to speak up for yourself. Acknowledging what you’re feeling is a valid form of self-care. 

Some days you feel down, while other days, you feel on top of the world. You can’t avoid one or the other, so you should learn to accept your feelings for what they are. 

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Self-care will increase your self-awareness, too. Perhaps one self-care strategy isn’t working with your lifestyle and doesn’t help you feel like your authentic self. Think about why that is, what that tells you, and what other strategy to pursue instead.  

There’s resilience in self-care and work-life balance. It’ll teach you to believe in your abilities and create change when you meet with any obstacles. And sometimes, those obstacles are how you treat yourself. Remember to be kind.

How can a coach help you?

Self-care and work-life balance vary from person to person, and that’s OK. What might work wonders for you could have a completely different impact on someone else. But the best way to achieve well-being through self-care plans and help your mental health is by sticking to practices that work for your lifestyle. 

Don’t try to conform to something that isn’t a big priority to you or doesn’t make you feel good. You’ll have questions about work-life balance as you learn more about it, but you don’t have to do it alone.

A coach can provide many different benefits as you begin to practice self-care. They can hold you accountable and help you create a plan full of action. Your coach will help you recognize what’s holding you back and plan how you can move forward and level up. But most importantly, they’ll be someone who’ll help you celebrate your wins and be excited about your future.

Find someone to help you feel productive and excited about the new habits you’re incorporating into your daily routine. At BetterUp, our coaches will help you develop a growth mindset as you establish healthy habits to benefit your future.

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Published September 10, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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