Flowers, chocolates, singing telegrams... some Valentine’s Day delights are just sweeter (and less weird) when they come from somebody else, especially at the office. But there’s plenty you can do for yourself when it comes to at-work self-care. I’m not talking about hand cream and a face mask, I’m talking about how you can treat yourself to build self-confidence, set boundaries, be a better leader, and grow creatively.
I spoke to Kari Clark, Founder and CEO of Uplift, a platform for companies to advance working moms by turning motherhood into a career advantage, about what self-love looks like at work (the kind you won’t get fired for, that is).
Start With The Physical: Take Three Deep Breaths
I *know* you know this already, but a 20 to 30 second pause to breathe can change your entire day. When you feel yourself getting worked up, overwhelmed, or stuck, take your hands off the keyboard, inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat twice. You’ll get some mental space, and destress. Kari also recommends doing this between meetings or when switching from one project or task to another--it’ll help you clear your mind and focus on what’s next.
List Your Accomplishments: Micro Edition
Before you wrap up your workday, make a quick list of all the things you did today. Gretchen Rubin calls this your “Ta-Da List,” and it’s a powerful, visible affirmation of your accomplishments. Instead of dwelling on what you didn’t do and ending your day worried about what’s still on your to-do list, take a minute to pat yourself on the back for what you did do. It’s often more than you think!
List Your Accomplishments: Macro Edition
Make a list of all the amazing things you’ve done: jobs you’ve gotten, presentations you’ve nailed, kids you’ve grown and raised, 10Ks you’ve run, anything that fills you with pride, personally and professionally. Keep the list in your desk or on your phone, and give it a read when you need pumping up before a meeting or interview, to remind yourself that you are awesome.
This ritual also applies any time you’ve had a disappointment. Allow yourself time to feel let down, and when you’re ready, check your list. You’re still you, you’re still accomplished, and you’re ready for the next challenge!
Ask For What You Want
Asking for what you want is about standing up for yourself, the way a good Valentine would stand up for you. At work, you’ve got to be your own advocate, whether it’s for flexible hours, the chance to lead a meeting, or a promotion. Know that you are worth it, and that you deserve the opportunity to go for more. And, notes Kari, if you ask for everything you want and you get it, you aren’t asking for enough--think bigger. What’s the worst that could happen? You hear “no.”
If you don’t feel like you know how to ask for what you want with confidence, you might want to start by asking for a coach. Professional coaching can help you build confidence, set priorities, and define boundaries.
Check in With Yourself
When was the last time you took stock of your emotions, stressors, and priorities? Taking five minutes to reflect on the state of your work-life union can help you identify pressure points and strengths you may not see on a day-to-day basis. Kari and her team at Uplift developed the Working Mom Check-Up, which takes your pulse on your risk for burnout, helping you understand where you stack up with other working moms. The Check-Up is like having a heart-to-heart with yourself about your needs, as any good Valentine should.
Being your own work Valentine isn’t about conversation hearts and red roses--it’s about appreciating who you are at work and beyond and letting that color your workdays. But if you need to buy yourself a box of chocolates, Kari says that’s a great addition to this list.