My 7 Necessary Self-Care Tricks for Busy Work Weeks

Thursday, August 17, 2017

In a work meeting on Monday, one of my coworkers gave a short shpiel thanking all of us for the work we had already done this week & were preparing to do in the days to come. You see, I work for a Jewish organization, & in the wake of a rally full of literal Nazis, we had a lot of work to do: statements to write, members to check on, campaigns to get off the ground, content to prepare & share... we knew we had a long, full week ahead of us.

As my coworker spoke, she reminded us all to take care of ourselves personally while we were working so hard professionally. I chimed in with something to the effect of, "Self-care is important during tough times!" She rolled her eyes & responded, "No, it's not self-care, you millennials. Just do what you need to do to take care of yourself." OK, well, that's what I meant. Isn't that what self-care means?

I think self-care is important, & maybe it is a millennial obsession, but since when is focusing on our mental & emotional well-being a bad thing? Perhaps the generations before us don't focus on self-care enough!

Look, this week has been really hard. It's been a lot of work, & only a little bit of sleep, because when I'm anxious or busy, I don't sleep very well. It's emotionally grueling, too, to keep up with the news cycle when the news cycle is all about racism & anti-Semitism & hatred & bigotry & the list goes on.

Here's how I deal during difficult weeks:
  1. Keep easy food on hand. I don't really cook - like, at all. When I'm busy, I make even less effort, which usually results in ordering takeout or buying chips from the bodega down the street & subsequently feeling like utter shit. This week, wary of falling into that old trap, I ran to Target & bought frozen veggie burritos & a few Lean Cuisine pizzas. Are they the healthiest? No, but they're way better than ordering Domino's or binging a bag full of Cheez-Its - & they're just as mindless, so I don't have to put in much effort.
  2. Sneak naps on my lunch breaks: I don't usually take lunch breaks, actually, but on busy weeks, they're a must - & when I've streamlined a meal plan like that, I need less time for lunch, which means lunch breaks become nap breaks. Sometimes even 15 minutes of shut-eye can calm me down & rejuvenate me so I feel ready to get back to work. Perk of working from home!
  3. Don't underestimate the power of a shower. During particularly busy work weeks, I tend to work through times that should include taking a shower & sprucing myself up & becoming a real person. When I do finally take a moment to clean up, the result is almost always a complete 180. Even if it's temporary, it's important. Again: perks of working from home, I guess, though, is it a perk to not have to prioritize personal hygiene?
  4. Find a mindless TV show to binge while I work: I love to keep the TV on (or more specifically, my iPad), while I work, but I can only work through really brainless shows. I just finished the first season of the CW's Riverdale, a sinister take on the Archie comics, & now I'm back to watching season three of The O.C. Oh, & amidst it all, my guilty pleasure Bachelor in Paradise started, so maybe it's my lucky week, after all!
  5. Read a book: During weeks like this, I end of working well beyond standard office hours. Still, I try to take time for myself where I can, even if that just means reading a book during bathroom breaks or for a whopping five minutes before bed. Right now, I'm reading Nathan Englander's What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, a book of short stories that isn't necessarily light-hearted, but it is incredible, & it feels incredibly appropriate for the times, too. It's nice to get lost in something that's not work.
  6. Seek out support: This might seem like a no-brainer, but I think that I, at least, tend to forget about it or downplay how much it matters, especially when I'm feeling overwhelmed. I tend to think I ought to deal with it by myself - but why? That's what friends, family, & fianc├ęs are for. When someone asks how I'm doing, I am honest without being a whiner or a downer, which opens the line of communication to talk a little bit about where I'm at & get a little bit of support.
  7. Know my limits: I've said no to a few things this week. I said I couldn't take on an additional project request from a colleague; I told Mike I needed to go to bed early instead of doing date night. I haven't bailed on everything, but during weeks like this, I try to pay attention when I'm feeling overextended, recognizing that time is a precious resource when things feel hectic. 
The world's a scary place right now, you guys. Take care of yourself. And tell me: How's your week going? How do you get through particularly busy weeks?

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