In 2017 I was working two part-time jobs and one full-time job.
If you've worked multiple jobs, you'll know this isn't an easy feat. My motto then was “just push through” but boy was I wrong. I neglected self-care and eventually burned out. Having gone through this experience, I knew something had to change and decided to take a break from work to take care of my health.
I returned to the working world with more experience and wisdom than I had before. I knew that to prioritize self-care, I had to integrate it into my daily work.
You may be thinking, how do self-care and work go together? I get it. Generally, when we think of practicing self-care, it doesn’t involve all the work that falls under the Community Manager title — although this work can be fun and rewarding. For a long time, I thought of self-care as taking time off, going on vacation on a beach somewhere, or sleeping in on the weekend.
However, self-care doesn’t have to be a huge event, separate from your everyday work. Weaving it in, in little ways throughout your day, can lead to an even healthier work-life balance.
Here are five things I do daily as part of my self-care routine.
As Community Managers, we tend to spend most of our work hours glued to our screens. Morning often quickly turns to night as we sit at our desks, only getting up for the occasional bathroom break. This means staying in one position for a long time, which can lead to many health-related risks over time.
Tip: I like to get up and move my body around by doing some stretches, walking around the space, or even jogging on the spot for a few seconds. I find that repeating this every hour or so helps reduce stress and leaves me feeling a little more creative throughout the day.
While I love working remotely, I miss those random office chats. You know, those conversations by the coffee machine that left you feeling more relaxed by the time you returned to your desk? I really underestimated how much those social moments aided my mental health. Those were the days!
Tip: If you’re back to working at the office, take some time to have a watercooler chat with a colleague. This will leave you feeling less isolated and who knows? You could end up sharing some great ideas.
If you’re working from home like me, take some time to message a colleague to check how their day is going, or call a friend just to chat for a minute while you take a brain break.
You don’t need to spent hours cycling through sun salutations or in deep meditation to get the benefits. A good self-care practice is weaving small moments of stretching or meditation into your workday, whether in the middle of a task or during your break.
Tip: I like to do some basic stretches right at my desk to ease areas of tension (like a couple of shoulder rolls when I feel tight in that area). Here are a few desk-friendly exercises to inspire you. Yoga poses like reverse prayer and twisted arms can even be done at your desk.
Is yoga not your thing? Meditation can also be an excellent stress reliever. Spending 2-5 minutes meditating focusing on your breathing while playing some calming music is also a great way to reset.
As silly as it sounds, I find laughter to be one of the best ways to combat stress and practice self-care.
Tip: If you’re short of hilarious teammates, you can watch some funny videos on YouTube before getting back to work. I usually take laughter breaks for five minutes but I always make sure to put a timer on so I don’t get too carried away.
For Community Managers, no day is ever really the same. Some are exciting while others can be upsetting or frustrating. When I feel like I’m having a tough day at work, I usually scribble my feelings on a piece of paper — I find it to be immensely therapeutic. By writing down how I feel, I become more expressive and can healthily confront my emotions.
Tip: If you’re not much of a writer you could scribble down anything you want on a piece of paper; doodles, lines, random objects, a tree, you name it — as long as it serves as a way to express yourself. Go for it!
Work can be demanding for all of us. Some days, it may feel impossible to even take an hour's break. I find that a little planning ahead can help combat this.
Tip: To make sure I have a little time to devote to self-care, I like to block out time in my calendar for things like lunch breaks, body breaks, or any other type of break I may need. This ensures that no one books a meeting in that slot and I can take guilt-free time off during my workday.
By prioritizing my mental health and taking the steps I have mentioned in this article, my creative juices flow better and my body is usually well-rested — which means I’m better able to show up for my community. Win-win!