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Self-care is non-negotiable, especially in the workplace.

When’s the last time you stretched your legs, drank a glass of water, or even took a deep breath? Whether you’re working full- or part-time in an office, factory, laboratory, or shopping mall, chances are you’ve been forgetting to take care of yourself. The presumed urgency of work demands — from sales calls and customer inquiries to meetings and inventory checks — can make it seem like the world is going to end if we’re not one hundred percent productive one hundred percent of the time.

This internal pressure we feel to work as hard as possible is often compounded by the expectations of people around us. Bosses, colleagues, friends, and family can pressure us into thinking taking breaks is selfish and unproductive. So instead of going for a walk, enjoying our lunch break outside, or escaping for a holiday, we chain ourselves to our work for fear of seeming lazy or undedicated.

Impact on employee health

Our cultural obsession with work and busyness is having damaging effects on our mental and physical health. As we reported in this infographic, fifty percent of adults work more than forty hours a week, and 75% of Americans describe their work as stressful. One way of coping with the stress is to skip work, which is what approximately one million workers do every day. Of the employees who do show up to work, 51% say they aren’t as productive because of the stress. In the long run, work-related stress and anxiety can contribute to depression, which is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Working too hard is also hurting our bodies. We’re spending obscene amounts of time sitting in transit, at desks, and meetings. Truck and taxi drivers have particularly sedentary schedules, as do security guards, engineers, programmers, and so on. This lack of movement is known to cause high blood pressure, obesity, increased risk of certain cancers, and musculoskeletal problems in the long run. Conversely, many of us work jobs that require a lot of heavy lifting, excessive time spent on one’s feet, noisy and/or claustrophobic environments, and other unhealthy conditions the human body wasn’t designed to endure for hours on end.

Get moving!

It’s so important for us to incorporate dynamic movement into our day. A few months ago, LifeSpeak expert Tim Sitt joined our live Ask the Expert webchat to explain why movement is beneficial, and how to make it an effortless part of our routines. Even simple exercises like stretching and mindful breathing can make us feel more calm, energized, and focused. This in turn helps us engage better with others and improve our overall sense of well-being.

If it’s hard for you to remember to take a break, set an alarm to go off roughly every twenty minutes. You can use it as a prompt to rest your eyes for a few moments, phone a loved one, eat a healthy snack, take a stroll around the building, listen to a song or podcast, etc. Self-care manifests in many different forms, but ultimately boils down to anything that encourages you to disconnect from work and feel centered again.We have a number of articles on self-care as it relates to employee well-being, which you can find here on our blog. Our digital library is also packed with over 2,000 expert-led resources on this and many other topics, including stress, anxiety, depression, fitness, nutrition, and hundreds more. Email us at [email protected] to find out how our platform can help your staff thrive.