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Self-Care: Office Edition

“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”
― Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

What does it mean to self-care? I think there’s a misconception that this only includes applying facial masks or investing in bath bombs. While these are ways that individuals might choose to take care of themselves, they’re not the only way. According to psychologist Raphailia Michael, self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health It’s an important practice to incorporate into one’s life no matter your occupation, and it’s just as important when serving on Team Care Force because our schedule changes throughout the year. This past September, we had six weeks of back-to-back events; a few of my teammates were only in Boston for a few days out of that entire month! However, from November through mid-March, the team has spent the majority of our time in the office. While this has allowed each coordinator role group (blog, social media, and mural) to focus on their tasks and improve Care Force systems, at times it has been a challenge to stay engaged and motivated when the work does not have as immediate tangible results. I’ve learned that taking care of yourself is important for preventing burnout and ensuring you’re in tip-top shape for service in the office and for prep and event days. We all try to take ownership of the moments that we can control in order to fully enjoy this experience. Care Force offers a unique and valuable opportunity to serve; none of us want to miss out.

In honor of World Health Day, we’ve created a trilogy of blogs that offers suggestions for self-care in the office, at home, and on the road. This first post is focused on self-care suggestions for an office setting. Here are some suggestions for creating self-care space while at work.

Four stick figures with speech bubbles over their head. The three figures on the left have one cog and the figure on the right combines the cogs from the other three stick figures into their speech bubble.

Brainstorm with your team

Are you working on an initiative and feel like you’ve hit a wall? Set up time to meet with a team member to get a fresh perspective Share the aspects of the project that are most challenging or frustrating for you and work with them to come up with ideas. An outside perspective might be exactly what you need to figure out your next steps to successfully finish your task.

Take some time away from your desk

It might seem counterproductive to leave the office when you’re working, but there are many productive benefits to stepping away from your screen to get up and move. Employee energy, engagement, and efficiency are boosted by taking short breaks away from your desk throughout the day, says sports scientist Jack Groppel. Instead of meeting in the office, ask if you can have a walking meeting instead. This will get you and your co-worker outside, giving a great change of pace, as well as providing fresh air while allowing you to enjoy nice weather. The fresh air can be refreshing, motivating, and might even spark your creativity. Another way to break away from your screen is to take your lunch out of the office. Pack a lunch and eat it outside or just take a lap around the block. Sitting for an entire workday can get old fast and this is an easy way to shake up your routine. One of the perks City Year HQ provides is use of the Meditation Room. Use this space when you need a few minutes to yourself; pair it with a meditation or breathing app, and it can be a great way to de-stress.

Request the tools you need to be successful

Care Force is a great experience because you’re able to grow both your hard and soft skill sets. During prep for events, you’re learning how to use different power tools while event day is focused on volunteer management and interaction. However, these learning moments aren’t only confined to events; you can learn while serving in the office as well. Is there a particular program that you’ve been wanting to learn more about? Maybe you just want more practice time with the circular saw or the jigsaw? Or perhaps your working group is working with software that you don’t know much about and you just want some additional information or training. My manager reminds the team that support can only be given if it’s asked for. No one can read minds; Care Force staff included. It is vital to take ownership of your productivity and knowledge, or lack thereof, and ask for support in learning these new skills.

 

Employee Assistance Program

There is one resource that is available to all AmeriCorps Members (ACMs) that is helpful at work, at home, and on the road – the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provided by SupportLinc. SupportLinc offers a variety of services across multiple platforms to support ACMs during their year of service. If you’re faced with a challenge during your service year, whether it’s work-related or personal, SupportLinc provides referrals for six face-to-face counseling session per concern. Their website has a variety of resources ranging from career development to financial information to wellness advice. They even have applications you can download to your phone. Read more about the program here, and for even more information, watch this 11 slide presentation with voice-over explaining the different benefits. If you’re nervous or unsure how to reach out for a session, read this NPR article about starting therapy.

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Additional Suggestions

  • Take breaks between tasks
  • Find a passion project for the year
  • Reflect on leadership mission statement or personal goals for the year
  • Journal your accomplishments and challenges
  • This information can be useful for future interviews or cover letters
  • Plan team time
  • Download a meditation or breathing app
  • Write notes to colleagues
  • Clean/organize your work space
  • Write down three nice things about yourself
  • Go on a coffee or snack run
  • Invest in fidget toys
  • Read a chapter in a book

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