Alissa PenneyBy Alissa Penney

I’ve often found myself committing the HR faux pas of trying to cram as much work as possible into one day and reaping the ‘benefits’ of feeling burnt out for at least a day afterward, if not longer! We have all probably worked +12 hour days just to make hard deadlines only to go home and collapse, then turn around and do it again for weeks on end. It’s also likely that you work in a salaried position that doesn’t have any financial reward for working those long hours and I’d venture to say that you aren’t being heaped with words of praise for all that work either.

How to Take Care of Yourself—So You Can Take Care of Others

So how do you stay motivated to keep your drive and passion as an overworked, under-appreciated HR professional? Some of us, myself included, probably go home to a couple glasses of our favorite adult beverage and maybe grab some takeout on our way. Maybe you’re a step ahead of your week and you manage to get in some meal prepping so you can have healthy meals each night (more power to you!) but it’s possible that many of us have established some unhealthy coping habits to help us make it through tough work weeks. This is where I encourage you to consider taking on some self-care habits so you can be your best at work self.

Self-care, if you’re not familiar, refers to something that you do to help boost yourself up after especially difficult tasks/days. Perhaps you have some personal habits already in place that lift you up such as meditation, yoga, hanging out with friends, or an exercise routine that helps you blow off steam outside of work. For myself, I like to listen to audio books, meditate, play some of my favorite music, and play video games when I have some free time (I’m a Millennial, can you blame me?).

Six Simple Strategies 

What do you do when you’re at your wits’ end at work? And how can you help promote self-care for your HR co-workers? I’ve compiled a working list below as a jumping point for your team to implement if/when possible:

  • Hold weekly team meetings to debrief things going on that week and allow time to vent. I recommend scheduling these meetings on Fridays as a way to separate the weekend from rest of a hectic week!
  • Make a dedicated space in your office to give yourself 5-10 minutes of breathing room. I use the chair opposite my desk and just breathe deeply for that 5-10 minutes. It’s been scientifically proven to help calm your brain and retrain your body to better handle stress.
  • Get up from your desk (or stay seated if you have mobility issues) and do some gentle stretching. Personally, I like to do “silly” stretches where I lift my hands in the air, wiggle my fingers, and twist from side to side like a tree swaying in the wind. I might even make whooshing noises as I breathe in and out! It always makes me laugh which, in turn, helps release serotonin and dopamine in my brain, helping me to feel better in general. It sounds, and is, incredibly silly, but maybe it’ll work for you!
  • Set aside time to talk with your HR co-workers casually about things they’re working on. By encouraging them to share, it opens doorways for you to share as well. Not only does this help you grow closer as a team by building trust, but it will also help you not feel so alone when you have emotionally heavy work tasks.
  • Put a mirror by your computer monitor, or somewhere else very visible in your office and smile at yourself a few times during the day. I have a mirror in my office and will smile and make faces at myself occasionally throughout the day. Again, this is another silly exercise, but when nobody else smiles at you throughout the day, you should at least be able to smile at yourself! This not only helps you to feel better, but it will help release a bit of tension you may be carrying around with you. Employees will get the added bonus of hearing your voice sound more pleasant on the phone if you smile at yourself during phone calls!
  • If you’re an HR supervisor, schedule time periodically to have your team all together where you don’t talk about work. Maybe you do a potluck or a carry-in and focus on how each member of your team is doing outside of work. Or, if your team isn’t this kind of team (yet!), perhaps you set aside a time with each employee one-on-one to talk about how they’re doing in a judgment free space. This is a small step on a journey to help break down some barriers at work and encourage your employees to come to you should they need support.

Find What Works Best for You

I am 100% certain that some of these strategies are silly and probably not something that you’ll be immediately comfortable with, and that’s OK. It’s also very possible that your team isn’t the kind of team that can share with each other without it being an all-day affair (it can be nice sometimes, but you do have to get work done too!). These are strategies that have worked well for me and teams I’ve led in the past—if they aren’t right for your team, let’s sit down and talk about your team’s needs and see if we can’t come up with good strategies for your workplace together! The most important thing about self-care is that it should do just that—take care of you and, by proxy, those around you.

What are some strategies that you’ve used in the workplace to help bolster yourself and your co-workers? Let me know in the comments below!

Still not sure where to start or need a little extra help rolling out self-care and team-building initiatives? ABetterHR is here to help! Give us a call, send us an email, or schedule a time to discuss your goals and how we can help you get to your Better.


About the Author

Alissa Penney is the Owner and Lead HR Consultant of A Better HR, an HR consultation company focused on helping small, thinly stretched HR teams do Better work. She loves getting to learn about what makes other HR professionals passionate about the work they do and helping answer difficult HR questions! She’s also an HR for HR contributor and community steward for the Legal & Compliance and Wellbeing groups.

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