4 Ways to Protect Your Well-Being in the Workplace
The need to take care of my wellbeing at work didn’t happen overnight. It was a months long process from the first tears shed in the restroom to the realization that my spirit was in distress.
I transitioned from working at a two-staff program with a laid-back office environment to a busy senior center that provided comprehensive programming seven days a week.
At the beginning, I wasn’t aware of what was happening to me. It was a new job and I was learning how to navigate the space as an awakened Filipina post my Raised Pinay experience that gave me a deeper understanding of my soul journey as a woman of color.
But this job came with new personality dynamics of colleagues and the various everyday needs of the 250 clients aged 60 years old and up who we serve. So, I chucked it up to “new job growing pains”. But the exhaustion and stress that came with this “newness” was disrupting my flow; I felt it in my body, mind and spirit. And the “treat yo self” manis just weren’t cutting it for self-care.
I needed to do more.
I began my 2017 with the deep intention to reflect on the word self-care and what it truly meant for me. I read up on it (came across Jenna Wortham’s reflections) and wrote about it (on why holistic spaces for women of color are important). Using what I have learned through my soul journey this past year, I have put them into practice in my workplace.
I am still learning how to protect my well-being as it can affected by changes in the office, seasons and just life. But I hope that this sharing can help you as you experience your own motions in your work life.
If you are already in the habit of setting intentions to bring clarity or motivations in your personal life, direct some of those intentions to your daily grind and hustle. Allow these daily intentions to serve as a reminder that you are more powerful than that “To Do” list or those “big day presentation” nerves.
If you are new to setting daily intentions and you want to welcome them into your work routine, your intentions can be as simple as:
I intend to inhale and exhale today.
I intend to bring joy to the work I do.
I intend to commit to the boundaries I’ve set.
I intend to hold space for colleagues.
Whatever your intentions may be (as a veteran or rookie intention setter), tailor them to the challenges, meetings, presentations or job responsibilities your day has planned for you.
When I come in to the office, my desk welcomes me with personal photos of loved ones, a short poem I wrote, small artwork by a Filipino client, cards received and the two small snake plants gifted to me by a Filipina client. Little by little I have transformed my desk into a personal sacred space. The feeling that something is mine in the office makes the space feel like home.
Self-care tends to revolve around what you do to care for yourself after a long day at work, but rarely do we ask, what do we do to care for ourselves at work? Creating your own sacred space can be one of the answers to that question. An office desk-turned-sacred space can bring positive vibes to your day, but it can also help heal you in the thick of your workflow if needed.
If you feel like you are freaking out or the energy of the office is getting to you negatively, take a moment to reground yourself in your mini sacred space. Breathe, close your eyes or mediate anything to help your well-being in that space of yours during tough times.
Emotional Sharing vs Emotional Dumping
This year, I am learning the difference between sharing and dumping emotions onto people. And I have discerned which dominates my interactions with colleagues as well as how my colleagues interact with me.
While emotional sharing allows me to connect with my colleagues in a deeper level, I am recognizing that venting about work to my colleagues is a form of emotional dumping which can contribute into creating an atmosphere of negativity. And being on the other side of the emotional dumping does not feel so good at times.
After developing awareness on the impact of emotional dumping on both sides, I am more mindful of my interactions with colleagues, asking myself: “How do I contribute to the daily flow of the office culture? Is this a sharing or dumping?”
I have been fortunate enough to have a director who is mindful of their staff’s needs. I have shared ideas with her on how we can shift the office culture that pays more attention to protecting our mental health during work.
It is a challenge for me to be honest with my own frustrations and stressors, but the few moments that I have voiced out my concerns to my boss have felt a positive change on my well-being.
Opening up about the need to take care of your well-being far outweighs than sucking it up and going on with your day. There is always power in speaking your truth.
Kristina Bustos is a freelance journalist with a decade of experience covering fashion, entertainment, food, wellness and women of color narratives. She also has worked with older adults for more than four years, currently creating and teaching educational programming such as Filipino American Studies and Women’s Activism in the U.S. You can see more of her writing in The Riveter, Paste Magazine and Essence Magazine.