Companies, leaders and managers are often accused of thinking more about the bottom line than they do their own employees. Unfortunately, this criticism stems from a bit of truth — but it doesn’t have to be true for you or your organization. Whether you are caring for yourself or educating your organization on the value of self-care, here are some thoughts to consider.

Mental Health and Self-care

We must move past the idea that talking about our mind, how it works and how we’re feeling is a bad thing. The human brain is a complex and well-designed machine. What do you have to do with machines? You must maintain them!

Whether you’re working from home or working in the office, take breaks. Get up, get moving and, for a moment, get your mind off your work. In the office, water-cooler chat is good. Take this opportunity to enjoy a calorie-free drink and share a smile with a co-worker, and don’t talk about the big project you’re trying to finish today. The walk to the break room, the cool glass of water and the interruption in the flow of work will help you in many ways.

If you’re working from home, you may consider taking a walk around the neighborhood or checking in with family members completing schoolwork, doing summer activities or chores, or working from home themselves. You might also say hello to a neighbor, pick up any trash blowing down the street (watch for cars!) or care for your pets.

Disconnecting From Work

Your company probably provides you with a few different ways to disconnect. Depending on your situation, you may have paid time off, vacation days, sick days, mental health days and the less-popular unpaid leave. Use them to your advantage! This doesn’t mean lying to your boss and using a sick day without cause, but you do need to rest your body, your mind and your connection to work so that you can return to the job refreshed and ready to go.

It’s OK to use your time off. You’ve earned it! If you are in an unfortunate position where you don’t have those benefits as part of your employment, reconsider whether that employer is still the right fit for you.

It’s OK

It’s important to your personal well-being to realize that it’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to take time to care for yourself.

It’s OK to …

    • Say, “I don’t know.”
    • Ask what an acronym stands for.
    • Forget things.
    • Introduce yourself to a stranger.
    • Ask for help.
    • Not know everything.
    • Seek clarity.
    • Have quiet days … and have loud days.
    • Stay at home when you feel ill.
    • Talk, joke and laugh.
    • Delight customers in new ways.
    • Say “no” when you’re too busy.
    • Make mistakes.
    • Not check your email after hours.
    • Take a walk to concentrate or for a one-on-one meeting.
    • Offer feedback regarding work or processes.
    • Use days off.
    • Challenge things you are not comfortable with.
    • Depend on your team.
    • Ask, “What else can I do?”

How Can I Start?

As a learning leader, you may or may not already be under the human resources (HR) umbrella in your company’s organizational chart. Regardless, you play a key role in helping the HR team retain the people who are investing in your company at the grassroots level: your employees.

Become a strategic partner with your HR team, and share with them your resources and expertise. Help them deliver wellness education and experiences that are both memorable and enjoyable. You can change your company’s culture to be more supportive of self-care!