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A New Approach to Self-Care in the Workplace

The past two years caused a seismic change to both our personal and professional lives, and it seems the dust is still yet to settle. Following the near-unanimous adoption of remote work during the peak of the pandemic, the lines between work and home have blurred signi.. Continue

A New Approach to Self-Care in the Workplace
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Growth & Best Practices

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Andrea Mullens

The past two years caused a seismic change to both our personal and professional lives, and it seems the dust is still yet to settle. Following the near-unanimous adoption of remote work during the peak of the pandemic, the lines between work and home have blurred significantly. In addition, employers and their managers had to adopt a significantly different way of working almost overnight. Though online and in-person meetings may seem similar at first glance, with the same agenda and attendee list, the majority of professionals grappled with a steep learning curve while transitioning to remote work during the pandemic. Whether faced with technical difficulties, a lack of privacy, or a feeling of disconnect from colleagues, it quickly became clear that we were dealing with two very different sides of the same coin.

Though stress in the workplace was a challenge long before the pandemic, it has never been more prevalent with recent studies even suggesting it caused permanent shifts to employee mentality. Yet on the positive, this pressing issue may help to catalyze an overdue shift in our attitudes to self-care and self-awareness. Without the borders of the office to compartmentalize work and home, the need to actively develop self-care practices should be front and center for us all.

As such, we were delighted to welcome Dr. Mary Hemphill to our Women in Cloud workshop series in February 2022 to deliver a targeted workshop on this theme. During the session Dr. Hemphill shared some invaluable advice on the issues we have all been facing with regards to maintaining a positive work-life balance in recent years and also dove into some unique advice on the nuances managers and team leaders can be aware of to balance their own mental health against the needs of their team.

Keep reading to learn about the workshop session and Dr. Hemphill’s blueprint for a self-care strategy that can cope with the realities of 2022.

 

Leading in the 21st Century

One of the first points touched on by Dr. Hemphill during the workshop was the concept of leadership and how significantly it has evolved in recent years. The collision of our professional and personal lives has redirected, reshaped, and redesigned the ways in which we need to be mindful to excel. Though true irrespective of position or personal status, the workshop explored the specific pressures that leaders may have been dealing with during this transitional period.

Highlighting that “we’ve gone from working from home to living at work,” Dr. Hempill went on to underline the importance of active self-care in 2022 and the fact that it should no longer be a passive activity - we should all take an active role in protecting our well-being and the resulting happiness it can create. One of the most prominent takeaways in this section of the training was the influence that emotional stability can have on your ability to identify when you begin to feel overwhelmed or distracted. Without a stable baseline, it can be difficult to spot the early stages of burnout or stress and therefore take action before the situation escalates.

 

Is self-care self-explanatory?

Perhaps, as it relates to very internal and personal experiences, it has been incorrectly assumed that self-care should come as second nature to us. To challenge this idea Dr. Hemphill spent a significant amount of time exploring the actual meaning of the term self-care. While there is a wealth of information online it is important to notice the ways in which we misinterpret the term. One of the ways this occurs is by buying into someone else’s definition of self-care. According to Dr.Hemphill, social media plays a significant role here as individuals often see a curated version of another person's life that could result in a false impression of what self-care looks like.

Another pitfall that she discussed was the habit of comparing one’s self-care practices to others. Self-care is a very personalized concept and therefore requires each individual to uncover what works for them specifically.

Finally, another common misconception highlighted by Dr. Hemphill was the idea that self-care equates to self-reward. She advised that prolonged disregard of our usual daily routines to reward ourselves for dealing with a stressful situation can be counterproductive over time. Instead, being meticulous and specific with the habits that contribute to our individual happiness is key to building a robust self-care routine.

The final way misinterpretation highlighted in this section of the workshop focused on when outer care does not match the inner dialog. Simply being well presented on the outside isn’t enough. It is imperative to negate self-deprecating thoughts and genuinely believe that you will have a successful and aligned lifestyle.

Looking forward, the next part of the training focused on delivering practical advice to the workshop attendees on how to avoid common pitfalls and focus on tried and tested methods instead. Dr. Hemphill outlined the 3 main components that should form the cornerstone of any robust self-care strategy – mental, physical and emotional.

From making the word “no” a standard part of our lexicon, staying hydrated and keeping active through to establishing ways to combat self-critical thoughts, the importance of addressing all three components in tandem was clearly underlined.

 

What is Compassion Fatigue?

The next element of self-care refers to a concept called compassion fatigue.

Compassion fatigue occurs when we struggle to respond appropriately to an unfortunate situation due to our emotional bandwidth being depleted of compassion. Signs of compassion fatigue include:

  1. Exhaustion.
  2. Reduced ability to feel empathy and sympathy.
  3. Anger and irritability.
  4. Increased use of drugs and alcohol.
  5. Dread of working with certain clients.
  6. Diminished sense of career enjoyment.
  7. Disruption of worldview.
  8. Heighted anxieties or irrational fears.
  9. Intrusive imagery or disassociation
  10. Hypersensitivity or insensitivity to emotional material.
  11. Difficulty separating work life from professional life.
  12. Absenteeism.
  13. Impaired ability to make decisions and care for customers/clients.
  14. Problems in personal relationships.

Final Thoughts:

There is no doubting the impact the pandemic had on our lives. Being mindful of ourselves, our emotions, thoughts, and surroundings will go a long way in mitigating those negative effects. It is important that we prioritize our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing above all else and actively develop the skills and awareness required in order to thrive in 2022 and beyond.

Stay tuned for more insights into our Women in Cloud activities and event program coming soon.