The rise of self-care at work is an interesting one: we live in a world where hustling hard is the name of the game. There’s a seemingly never ending race to the top. Success is the standard and anything less is a failure. To say it’s stressful is an understatement. At the same time, the stigma around talking about stress, sadness, and frustration (aka feelings, for those of you unaware) is waning. 

People are more and more vocal about what’s weighing on them and taking the steps necessary to seek help. Employees today expect their companies to offer them work-life balance and great benefits that make them feel recognized for their work. All of these expectations and needs falls under the umbrella of self-care

We’ve previously shared some tips and tricks to jumpstart your self-care routine. Here, we want to get down to the nitty gritty of maintaining a routine of self-care at work and how we do it in our own office. We’ll cover why it’s important and some of the ways our team takes time for themselves between meetings and quarter planning. We hope, dear reader, this inspires you and your team to prioritize your health and well-being because a happy team is a healthy and productive one.

Stressed out!

The hard reality of self-care

Self-care is a call to action; it’s a response to the stressors in our life. It’s what we do when things don’t feel right and a way of sticking it to the proverbial man to prioritize our health and well-being. 

Self-help author and blogger, Brianna Wiest, aptly sums it up, “don’t build a life you need to regularly escape from.” It is worrisome that self-care has become a way to escape our reality, instead of support it. 

But what is important here is the why behind the what. Why do people feel the need to scroll through Instagram for hours on end looking at the people and places they wish to be? How come our gut instinct is to bail on plans with a friend instead of letting them know we need some alone time? What’s so bad about facing the problems stressing us out? 

Because it’s easier to escape reality. 

It’s the reason reality TV (rather, not-so-reality TV) is so popular. Watching the trainwreck that unfolds on The Real Housewives allows viewers to compare their seemingly tame lives to the women who live lives as fast as their cars. 

But binge watching entire seasons of your favorite show over your weekend, every weekend, because you need to focus on someone else’s problems rather than face your own? While binge watching our favorite shows can help lift our spirits, it’s a problem if it gets in the way of everyday activities and relationships.

Balance is the name of the game with self-care

The name of the game is creating balance

Going back to what Wiest wrote, it’s imperative to bring more balance in your life. So how do you know when to hop on the self-care train? The easy answer is, now!! It’s never too late or too early to start. You don’t need a rock-bottom crash to start one (and we really hope that doesn’t happen to you). But listening to your body, your mind, and the people around you is a great place to start the self-reflection necessary to developing a self-care routine. 

Some signs you need a self-care routine, a listicle:

  1. Totally deflated after work? You need a self-care routine. 
  2. Regularly canceling plans to lay in bed? You need a self-care routine. 
  3. Can’t seem to find inspiration or motivation? You need a self-care routine. 
  4. Is it difficult to work through your daily tasks? You need a self-care routine. 

Taking care of yourself can happen anytime of day, and probably should! Since we spend about one-third – that’s 90,000 hours – of our lives at work, it’s essential. You’re not a robot, and all those negative emotions and issues will most likely creep into your day-to-day

That’s why self-care at work is so important. Building time into your day to take a walk around the block or chat with co-workers in the break room is just as important as deep work. Like we said, you’re not a robot! Breaking up your day helps you stay motivated, your brain recharged, and even helps retain new information so you don’t feel like you’re underwater. There are huge benefits to yourself – and even your company.

Drowning underwater

The ROI on self-care at work

This section is meant to be copy/pasted to your boss or your HR department, start below! 

The World Health Organization defines a healthy workplace as one in which:

…workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety, and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace by considering...identified needs.

Identified needs include positive health and safety in the physical, psychosocial, and cultural work environment. Healthy workplaces are encouraged by employers and exhibit commitment to improvements inside and outside the office. 

That’s all fancy talk to say that healthy workplaces are ones where we can bring our whole self to work: physically, mentally, emotionally. All of it! And the more, the better. This all just translates to compensation, benefits, and work perks. A majority of working people today want great benefits – actually, over 80% of workers expect it.  But unfortunately, a study found that workers rated the daily tasks, work-life balance, and morale at their company only as average.

How is the company going to succeed if your employees are unhappy? In fact, genuinely happy employees mean happy customers. Gallup found that more engaged employees improves customer relationships, translating to a 20% increase in sales. People are intuitive and they can sense when someone finds true joy in their day-to-day. 

So let’s get down to the numbers. Employees say that better work-life balance and well-being is a key consideration to leaving their current job for a different company. But with turnover costs averaging about $15,000 per employee, it’s too expensive not to take action. Furthermore, a study found that if Canadian businesses offered robust health and wellness packages, billions of dollars could be saved. Lost productivity due to absenteeism and personal and health-related issues were the driving costs. People want their companies to support them holistically, and it benefits companies to do so.

Supporting employees and fostering healthier workplaces is not just good for business, it’s good business. 

Why people leave their jobs

Self-care at work isn’t always glamorous 

Self-care isn’t all vacations, excessive amounts of pizza, and laughing with friends like you see on your Instagram feed. What’s true for one person might not be true for another because we all recharge differently. 

Self-care routines are pursued usually because we feel immense pressure, out of control, we’re unmotivated, and unhappy in our lives. Fears of financial instability, job pressure, relationship pressure, and concerns with physical and mental health contribute to these unhealthy emotions. 

But the cure to these fears and mindset is not hopping on a plane to run away from problems. Neither is excessive indulgence in vices like shopping or comfort foods to get a quick kick of dopamine. It’s doing the work to face your fears, no matter how scary, challenging, or out of our comfort zone it is.

Getting yourself organized is key to self-care

That’s why we say self-care is not always glamorous. It’s downloading and keeping up with a budgeting app or maintaining a spreadsheet to get in control of finances. Or, it’s saying no to a dinner out with friends and cooking at home instead. It’s bringing your coffee to work rather than buying it on the way to work. Maybe it’s waking up 30 minutes earlier to go for a walk or to practice yoga, or even just keeping up an at-home morning routine. It’s finally booking an appointment to see a psychologist and sticking with it.

Sometimes it’s making the decision to cut certain things out of your life. Whether it’s social media or even a toxic job or person in your life, it’s a tough decision, but it’s one that can have immeasurable benefits. 

What is glamourous though, is the feeling of accomplishment when you start to see the positive benefits of finding a self-care routine that works for you. It’s going to take time to get there, but it’s oh so worth it when you do. 

Our founder, Tracy

Tracy’s self-care at work routine 

Without self-care, says our Founder and CEO, Tracy Lawrence, the company wouldn’t be where it is today; self-care plays a significant role in her life. It’s not only a duty to herself to practice self-care, but a duty to the whole company, as well.

Her self-care is guided by a simple question:

Are you doing the work you love with people you love?

This became a guiding question for her after a conversation she had with her father in college. Instead of feeling remorse or boredom from staying in and reading a book on a Friday night, he advised her, find joy in everything you do.

Since then, Tracy has prioritized finding joy in her life personally, and professionally. Heck, it’s woven into Chewse’s cultural fabric – it’s even one of our values! From building meaningful relationships with coworkers to finding joy out of a long day of meetings, it’s an everyday practice to find joy.

Along with finding joy in the everyday, she makes the most of the down moments. When we chatted with her for this post, she was between fundraising meetings. Fundraising is a time that does not lend itself easily to down time or slowing down. So instead of looking at work emails in the down time between meetings or events, she calls a loved one or meditates.

Tracy explained that if she didn’t actively practice self-care on a daily basis, she could easily burnout, like many first-time and experienced founders. She’s seen first-hand that founders and executives who experience burnout don’t just burnout, they flame out. They experience intense physical and mental health issues that are not only tragic for her own health, but for the health of the company.

So instead, building a sustainable work environment for herself and her company are as much a priority as disrupting the culture of work as we know it.

Hanging out with co-workers

Self-care habits around the office

Our staff knows a thing or two about self-care, too. At a company where we value love and excellence in our work and day-to-day interactions, self-care is crucial. As Tracy mentioned, if you’re not taking the steps necessary to care for yourself, your health and the work at hand are sacrificed. That’s why we start meetings with a Color Check-in to gauge how everyone is doing and hold Attitudes of Gratitude to share appreciation for coworkers. We also conduct monthly manager-direct report check-ins for regular feedback on progress and improvements.

Self-care at work is an especially significant practice. Taking time out of the workday to step away from your desk to cool off or reset your brain is an important key to success. So how do we at Chewse do it? We asked our staff to give us their techniques for self-care at work. Here’s what they had to say*:

Mel B, Restaurants Team

I try to take walks outside and to take as much paid time off as possible without feeling guilty, especially when I know that I am achieving or projecting to surpass my goals. I try to be honest about color check-ins and if I’m red, then saying so. 

Also, I really love chatting with my coworkers in the kitchen and eating snacks. And of course, I love to say hi to all the dogs in the office.

Emma, Restaurants Team

Honestly, I think our color check-ins enhance our ability to express what we need and offer an avenue for others to step in when people are red. Taking a break with my team and laughing is always a great way to get out of a bad mood. Transparency is the perfect platform to ensure everyone feels safe and can take the steps they need to practice self-care. Let’s face it booze does not hurt either. 

Mikael, Restaurants Team

Coffee walks for sure, stepping outside is a necessity for me to collect myself and feel the restorative rays of the sun. Heading over the park across the street is a nice 5-minute getaway as well. 

Another thing that really helps me is having a sense of humor with my deskmates and those around me. Laughing and smiling is a great change of pace from the work-hard mentality of  “getting shit done!”

Jay, Growth Team

Currently, I go and sit by the window in the office with my laptop to get some sun. I also like to walk around the block to the neighborhood market, buy a bag of chips, and sit in their eating area by the window.

Gertie, Growth Team 

Lunch alone (LOL), as counter to Chewse culture as that is, I’m an introvert and talking to people is exhausting sometimes! There are times when I just need to put my head down and read a book or something.

I have a playlist I listen to when I’m in a bad mood that lifts my spirits. Going for a walk to get hot drinks I can’t get in the office, like a hot cocoa or a mocha, is key. Also, DOGS. PLAYING WITH DOGS.

Mel C, Growth Team

I think this is something I do not do enough of, as I often eat my lunch while working. I do like to walk to coffee with people I work with. Even though we talk about work-related topics, it’s nice to get fresh air.

Regina P, Dispatching

Getting up for a drink of water a good excuse to walk away from your desk. More importantly, dehydration causes irritability, headaches, and confusion and disorientation. All terrible for the workmode. 

And one more big one: remembering to look at the bigger picture. Take a moment to remember how other people or departments are feeling, how the company needs to make changes to be successful. Take a step back and ask yourself, is that tiny mistake you made REALLY going to cost you your job and reputation? Probably not.

Victoria, Growth Team

I drink lots of water, so much water! At least once a day, I try to go outside, even if it is just for a few minutes to soak up the sun. I try not to take my work home, unless absolutely needed and I like keeping my desk organized (to my liking, hehe). 

Self-care and mental health at work should definitely be normalized and supported by offices!

Gerri, Restaurants Team

I like to ask friends to talk, go for a walk, or I go on a walk by myself. Drinking water is also key! Keeping caffeinated and feeding myself based on what my body needs not what my eyes and mouth want, LOL, is harder in practice here, but important! I like to get in early to practice my morning routine.

All workplaces should definitely talk about and offer more self-care options. Your health is your wealth. Happy and well-rested people are more productive and it’s betta for business and humans!

Workplace Culture is a Combination of Love and Excellence
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Food as a form of self-care

Food is our love language. It’s the great unifier! When we’re feeling low, or when we’re celebrating a big milestone, food always finds a way to warm our hearts – and our bellies. For the most part, food is the most visceral way to make ourselves feel better. And offices are beginning to recognize the importance of encouraging self-care routines at work through, what else? Breakfast catering, workplace lunches, happy hours, and treats for any occasion! 

Fueling our bodies and our minds to be our best selves is even easier if your company offers food at work. People are more productive and less distracted when they make it a point to take a lunch break. 

Take it from Tracy and all of us at Chewse, maintaining a self-care routine at work is not only good for you, you’ll be more successful in the long run. Don’t sacrifice your physical and mental health stressing about what other people think of you stepping away from your desk to take a walk. So we challenge you to ask yourself: what’s your workplace self-care routine?

*Names have been changed and comments have been edited for brevity.