Self-care at work? Is that even possible? With technology today, it is so easy to become so immersed with phone calls, emails and projects, that its easy to forget what time it is! It is important to practice self-care in all kinds of working environments, whether it be a high stress job, or an unpaid internship

What is self-care at work?

The technical definition of self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.  Ok, well that is pretty overwhelming.  Another definition is “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during times of stress.  Ok, well that is even more overwhelming.  So, how can we figure out a way to make this daunting taste more realistic in our day to day lives?

Five years ago, our team led a self-care challenge which was quite successful for our clients and ourselves.  Maybe this chart of our self-care challenge looks familiar to you? I love the idea of having a group of people all help each other stay accountable for better self-care.  We hope that our new 2020 challenge inspires you to make your nutrition and health a priority.

self-care calendar challenge

Why is self-care is important:

At the end of the day, you are the person who determines whether or not you took steps to improve your self-care.  It is the one thing that you can do each day to either bring you closer to or further away from the life that you imagine.  I like the quote that we used for our first challenge by Deborah Day “Nourish yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is obtainable, and you are worth the effort”.

I also like Brianna West’s quote about self-care shown below.  I agree, it is important to think about how to start with the basics of self-care and focus on what you really need each day and attending to those needs instead of stressing yourself out all day and coming home to bubble baths and chocolate cake.  Each person is different and part of the adventure is to figure out what really restores your mind, body and spirit and how to come up with ways to recharge yourself throughout each day.  I encourage you to join our challenge to help you discover what self-care practices work for you.  We hope to help you stay focused on these healthier habits.  Remember, self-care does not have to be elaborate or expensive. Actually, I think that the simple practices are often the most accessible, obtainable, and sustainable.

How to weave self-care into your daily living:

Whether you work from home, in an office or on the road all day, let’s start the conversation of how to take better care of ourselves. What makes the most sense for you to try to add into your day to practice self-care?  You can look at our January calendar from 2015 to see if you can find some inspiration there.  How about one of these? I think you might be able to try one of these at work today:

  • Have a cup of tea
  • Write in a journal
  • Expressive gratitude

Ready to dive deeper? Take a look at these tips:

self-care at work

Ways to Practice Self-Care at Work

1. Relieve stress using the five senses

Stress can be relieved in many different ways using the senses, so find what works best for you! Here are some of the things that I use:

  • Sight:

    • Imagine a peaceful place. Look away from the computer screen and think about a calming ocean, or a serene mountain top.
  • Sound:

    • If your company allows, play some relaxing music while you work. Headphones are a great option as well. I am partial to Lindsey Stirling, who is a pop violinist.
  • Smell:

    • You can’t really light a candle in the office, but scented hand lotion is a great option! Lavender is my favorite, but there is also a great Mint Eucalyptus Lotion that smells incredible!
  • Taste:

    • Take a piece of minty gum, and chew on it slowly. Enjoy the taste and the sensation of chewing
  • Touch:

    • A stress ball, or any kind of object can be great for relieving stress in a tactile way. I have a ball shaped like a strawberry that I got from a health fair that I give an extra squeeze when I want to relieve stress.

2. Take a deep breath to practice self-care at work

When I find myself getting overwhelmed, I take a step away from my desk, close my eyes and take a deep breath. It allows me to refocus at the task in front of me, and provides some mental clarity.

self-care at work

3. Take a short walk for self-care at work

If time, weather, and location permit, take a short 10 minute walk outside. It will energize you, wake you up if you are feeling sleepy, and helps relieve stress!

self-care at work

4. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Start at your face. Tense up your facial muscles, then let them relax. Work your way down your body. Going from head, to shoulders all the way down to your feet, letting each muscle group tense up really really tight, and then allowing them to relax. Or if you are fortunate enough to be able to grab a yoga mat and do a few poses, even better!


5. Sit up straighter

Have you ever noticed that you start the day in an upright position, and at some point you’re slouching in your chair? Not only could this cause back pain, but it also makes you less productive and tired! Sit up straight! It will make you more confident and more productive.

self-care at work

6. Stay Hydrated for self-care at work

I will be the first person to admit that I have a caffeine addiction. And while coffee has a time and place, make sure you are drinking plenty of other liquids to keep your hydrated. I love my S’Well Water bottle, because it keeps my water cold for 24 hours (especially when there is ice in it). If the taste of water doesn’t appeal to you, try adding lemon or other fruit to it! You can also take seltzer water, and add a little bit of juice to it. Herbal teas are another great option. Chill them down in the summer for a refreshing drink, and keep it hot in the winter. I keep bags of tea in my desk and in my work bag to make when I need something different than water.

water bottles

Self-care also includes nourishing yourself properly.  Follow our blog for nutrition tips and hacks to make healthy eating sustainable!

low fodmap shrimp and vegetable

Photo by Kaitlin Eckstein

Do you have any tips for practicing self-care in the office? Do you struggle with balancing nutrition at work? Our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can help! Give us a call at 301-474-2499 today or visit our contact us page.

This blog has been reviewed, updated and reposted in March 2020.


self-care at work

Klara Knezevic is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Maryland. She has over a decade of experience in the nutrition field and currently serves as the CEO and co-owner of Rebecca Bitzer and Associates, one of the largest nutrition private practices in the country. Klara is passionate about sharing practical nutrition tips to help you feel confident in the choices that you make. Coauthor ofCooking with Food Sensitivities Survival GuideandNourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating.