Woman sitting with her legs crossed on white linens with a laptop and coffee

Genuine, unselfish self-care strives to maintain your mental, emotional, and physical health. It enables you to properly tend to whatever tasks and responsibilities life brings your way. You may have found that your productivity at work — or really anywhere in your life — is suffering. If your reaction is to work harder, that’s understandable. However, you may want to consider integrating some reasonable self-care measures into your routine to truly get back into a productive rhythm.

Why Slow Down?

Most Americans live in a “do” mindset. Everything that matters in life revolves around doing. Having a job doesn’t matter as much as what you do while you’re working. Simply having a family isn’t as important as what your family members accomplish. Living life itself doesn’t have value until you set goals and then accomplish them.

Of course, living life in this perpetual state of action and achievement isn’t sustainable. The problem is, many people think slowing down or — heaven forbid — stopping for a minute simply indicates weakness and a failure to thrive. The sentiment is ironic, as slowing down and letting yourself breathe a bit is often the key to finally succeeding in living a happy, productive life.

If you’re struggling with being productive, especially at work, the answer may be as simple as giving a second thought about yourself once in a while.

Ramping Up By Slowing Down

If you’re nodding in agreement, but you’re not sure how to utilize self-care in ways that can ramp up productivity, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here are a few suggestions for different ways to incorporate self-care with an eye towards productivity.

Take Care of Maslow

Self-care, at its root, involves making sure your body has the basic elements it needs to survive and thrive. This is especially true if you work in a field that is particularly demanding such as nursing or social work

Take some time to consider the bottom rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is an important place to start and it includes the following things:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Warmth
  • Rest

It is easy to provide for these needs:

  • Eat healthy foods
  • Stay well-hydrated
  • Give your body an opportunity to regularly rest and recuperate

Addressing these basic needs of life is an excellent starting point for genuine self-care. They keep your body alive and well and can be instrumental in maintaining sustained productivity.

Communicate with Others

Further up Maslow’s hierarchy are things like security, intimate relationships, and self-esteem. Many of these needs can be filled by simply taking the time to communicate with others. 

From a quick text to a full, in-person heart-to-heart, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or family member who you trust. This opens up a door to socialize, to process, and, consequentially, to provide a little emotional self-care to yourself. The simple act of talking with a friend can do wonders in curbing anxiety and managing stress in your life: two of the primary goals in proper self-care.

Establish Boundaries

Setting up separate “work zones” and “relaxing zones” is a helpful way to feel like you can unwind and rest at times. This is a key habit to establish, especially if you work from home, where the lines between work and fun are easily blurred.

By creating definitive boundaries, you can focus entirely on work during work hours. Then, after work is done, you can unplug by making a meal, reading a book, exercising, or even tossing a bath bomb in the tub (so long as you’re careful to avoid the extra headache of a plugged drain!).

Increasing Efficiency Through Self-Care

As you consider implementing self-care into your routines, remember that the goal isn’t to create more time to be productive, but rather to become more efficient with the time that you work. It’s an important distinction, as being efficient requires working smarter, not harder. 

If you create twice as much work but it takes four times the effort, your productivity is going to lead to burn out. However, taking the proper time to care for yourself can enable you to be healthy and more efficient while you’re working, which boosts your productivity in the most holistic way possible.