Don’t be a Martyr…take care of YOU 1st!

When you’ve chosen a profession like Human Resources that, at its core is about caring for others, it’s easy to forget that you, too, are a human who needs and deserves care. Nothing has taught us more about the importance of self-care for HR professionals than a global pandemic.

Self-care means different things to different people. Some may want to stretch out and relax in a warm bubble bath while others may enjoy a walk through a nearby park, or savoring a favorite treat or even binge watching a favorite series on tv.

It’s also much more. Self-care can include things like setting boundaries for yourself and others to protect your time, your emotional well-being and your physical health.  Finding ways, even micro-moments to relieve job stress, restore your peace, and rejuvenate is critically important and we must make it a priority, not an afterthought. 

Our roles as leaders and HR professionals demand we provide emotional and psychological safety for others, to be effective in this aspect of our work, we must be our best selves and to be our best selves, we must care for ourselves the same way we would care for others.

We must also be aware of REAL vs FAKE self care and not allow ourselves to be hijacked.

Real Self Care

  • Fuel your body with food that provides nourishment
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Be selective with those who you choose to share space and time
  • Do something YOU love
  • Move your body in ways that feel great to you
  • Unfriend/unfollow those who bring you anxiety or drama
  • Sleep in
  • Call your BFF and just talk
  • Saying “No”
  • Buying something you absolutely love and wouldn’t typically buy for yourself
  • Spend time outdoors everyday (try before 10am daily if you can)
  • Pet a dog/cat and soak in their genuine unconditional love

Fake Self Care

  • Restrictive diets
  • Alcohol/drugs
  • Saying Yes to everything so you don’t disappoint others
  • Spending money to fill a void
  • Working out when it doesn’t bring you joy
  • Pressuring yourself to learn more, do more and be more

Once you’ve prioritized yourself, keep these suggestions for self-care in mind to avoid HR burnout:

  • Physical Wellbeing –

DIET: Research shows that in times of high stress, the drugs of choice during business hours are caffeine and sugar. There’s science to convince you why their overuse is terrible for your body and mood, but you already know it is true, so we’ll skip the chemistry and anatomy lesson here. Being mindful of what you are eating and drinking can make a difference in how you feel. Practice self-care by switching out the coffee and doughnuts for water, herbal tea, fruit, or a handful of nuts.

EXERCISE: Movement releases chemicals in your body, which naturally elevates mood. Exercise is also a great stress reducer. By staying limber and active, your overall health improves. Break up your day by getting up from the desk, taking a walk around the office (house), and add some stretches. Outside of work hours, try to get some fresh air and have a consistent exercise program, such as yoga, weight training, or jogging.  Set a reminder on your Outlook calendar to get up for 5 minutes every hour and walk around your office or step outside if you can!

PREVENTATIVE CARE: Make sure you keep up on your check-ups. It’s essential not to sacrifice an annual physical, cancer screenings, and dental cleanings. You’ve got just one body—treat it with respect by keeping up with the required maintenance!  We have to change the oil in our cars, fill them with gas and replace parts periodically, our bodies are very similar in the care and maintenance they need.

REST: Don’t neglect getting adequate sleep. Failing to get enough rest can make you irritable, forgetful, and less productive. At a time when you need to be at your best to help employees and leaders through this ongoing crisis, you need to be sharp and at your best. That’s impossible if you’re sleep-deprived.

  • Emotional Wellbeing –

RELAXATION: When you’re feeling overwhelmed, look for ways to ease your stress with activities that relax and rejuvenate you. Whether a massage, mani/pedi, or curled up with a good book sipping your favorite tea, everyone has activities that transport them to their happy places. Don’t be a martyr. Prioritize your self-care with your favorite relaxation go-to’s, and you’ll keep burnout at bay.

STAY SOCIAL: Once it is safe to do so again, remember that self-care can also mean spending time doing activities you love, whether alone or with others. Until we get the all-clear, virtual meet-ups, texting, or phone calls are great substitutes for in-person events.

SEEK HELP: It is okay not to feel okay. There are resources to help you cope with mental health and wellness issues. Addressing feelings of isolation, sadness, anxiety, or depression is vital for your wellbeing and the ability to empathize with and support others feeling the same.

In the end, self-care is anything that is solely for you that makes you feel better, and you get to decide what is and isn’t right for you. It’s ok to ask yourself what you really need or want in that moment and do it!

Self-care isn’t selfish, it is ensuring you’re at your best so you can continue to serve others and feel great at the same time.  Don’t let anyone define it for you or stop you from doing it. You can’t pour from an empty cup, after all.

Barbie Winterbottom is an HR Expert and CEO of the Business of HR. With 20+ years of experience in the HR field and a former CHRO, Barbie has taken her expertise and experience and coaches HR Professionals to transform themselves and their careers with a focus on being a business leader first.

You can email Barbie directly at [email protected] and check out her coaching website to learn more