You’ve probably heard some version of the old adage “love yourself before you can love someone else”. Or perhaps, “keep your tank full” so you can give to others. The cliches are true: how we treat ourselves directly impacts how we treat others.

When it comes to being your best at work, it’s more than just nailing a project or wowing the client. It’s about how you show up, and that requires some level of self-care.

I’m not talking about the take-a-coffee-break or workplace-meditation-app kind of self care -- though these may make a positive difference for you. True self-care in the workplace is about taking responsibility for who you show up as, and acting in ways that enables the best version of you.   

There are three hidden ways self-care can play an important role in how you show up.

  1. Positive self-talk. The most important conversation is the one you have with yourself. Is your saboteur re-telling you “old stories” from the past? If so, it may be time to update your story with new evidence that disproves the old story. Old stories will follow you around, but only if you let them. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Changing your internal dialogue to “I can...” instead of “I couldn’t...” can be an important first step in positive self talk. Is there an old story you’re ready to ditch? What new story will you tell yourself instead?

  2. Balance & boundaries. Work-life balance and boundaries are not written into an offer letter or designed in a company culture. The biggest misconception about work-like balance is that it’s something an organization provides to you. Work-life balance is a very personal, conscious choice to take responsibility for what you want in your life and career. You then make daily choices that support that vision with full awareness of the tradeoffs. Those choices can and often do look very different every day, and only you can make them. A good first step is to get honest with yourself about what balance really looks like, and what you’re willing and able to do to strike that balance.

  3. Environment. Maybe your immediate workspace isn’t exactly zen-like or conducive to whatever it is you need to be happy and productive. If your environment impacts how you feel and show up at work, find ways to make it work for you. My client recently told me that she purchased a digital photo frame to keep on her desk to remind her why she does the work she does. Perhaps taking care of yourself means changing your physical location to get a new perspective, literally, even if it’s just down the hall.

True self-care in the workplace is about taking responsibility for who you show up as, and acting in ways that enables the best version of you.

Regardless of level or line of work, the reality is, almost everyone can be doing more to improve how they show up at work and how fulfilled they feel. So much of that starts with taking care of and prioritizing yourself. Like everything, it’s a balance and one only you will know how to strike. Choosing to take care of yourself is choosing to be more in control. There is a place for this in the workplace and I encourage you to find it for yourself. 

What’s one small thing you can do to take care of yourself in the workplace and show up as a better YOU?