3 Reasons You Should Be Balancing Work With Self-Care

3 Reasons You Should Be Balancing Work With Self-Care

Guest post by Capri Fiello


If you’ve ever worked in a competitive workplace environment, then you know how hard it is to stand out. To be noticed, and get promoted. Working harder to get ahead in your career can quickly lead to feeling burned out, which in turn breeds negative thoughts and attitudes about your job. This can easily cause your productivity levels to drop, which will hinder your efforts in climbing the professional ladder.



One of the best ways to deal with a stressful work environment is to balance it out with healthy personal wellness and self-care routines. Setting aside time for yourself will help put you in the right frame of mind to tackle any obstacle you may be facing professionally. Here are a few ways you can take charge of your career through personal wellness.


Maximizing Productivity


Thirty-three percent of American workers routinely do not take breaks for fear that they won’t be seen as a hard worker by their employers and co-workers. That’s  about 42 million people in the United States who won’t allow themselves a break in order to save face in the workplace. Unfortunately, they have it wrong. It may sound counter intuitive, but stepping away from your desk during the day has tremendous benefits for your overall concentration and productivity levels.


Taking a break allows your brain to quite literally reset itself, as brain activity shifts from the problem solving area of your brain, or the prefrontal cortex, towards other areas instead. This brief rest period encourages your prefrontal cortex to renew focus.  When you come back to the task at hand you’ll be recharged and re-motivated.


Giving yourself a break also prevents decision-fatigue. Being a leader in the workplace requires you to be a decision-maker. However, making frequent decisions without giving yourself a chance to take a step back and take a mental break can affect your reasoning ability and decrease your motivation. This leads to simplistic decision-making and procrastination. Both massive productivity killers.


Breaks are essential for renewing your energy levels, improving your motivation, and increasing your determination. A clear head and an organized mind go a long way in helping you take control of your career trajectory. So don’t be afraid to take a step back from the project you’re working on.


Boost Your Professional Image


From the first interview to your last day on the job, your professional image is everything. Looking and feeling your best boosts your confidence levels, improves the way you interface with your colleagues, and positions you for success.

When constructing your professional image, your self-care routine is essential. It only takes one day of forgetting your deodorant for your co-workers to remember you as the colleague that smells – which is the opposite kind of impression you make if you’re trying to position yourself as a leader at work. Make sure to keep up with all of your grooming needs, from moisturizing to keeping your nails trim. For any personal problem areas that bring down your confidence, such as cold sores, dry skin, or hair loss, there’s an effective treatment that can put your insecurities at ease. For example, valacyclovir is an effective and fast-acting way to manage cold sore outbreaks.


The phrase “dress for success” might be a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Studies have shown that looking the part of a professional emboldens you to act the part. People psychologically link their clothing to how they interact with their surroundings. Beyond influencing your own actions, what you wear also influences the impression other people have of you. An outstanding professional image depends on a strong personal dress code aimed at positioning you in the role you aspire to.


Combat stress


Working around the clock may lead to some short-term success, but it won’t be long before stress causes you to crash. When you leave work at the end of the day you should do so without looking back. Do your best to leave work at work, and devote yourself fully to enjoying your time away.


Schedule some time that is specifically for you. Enjoy your favorite hobbies and activities. Relax. Mental relaxation is imperative,but try to do a little more than just spend your night in front of the TV. Physical activity is a very effective way to relieve built up stress, and distract yourself from any day-to-day troubles. Couple this relaxation with an appropriate bedtime and a good night’s sleep. You’ll be primed and ready to dive head first into the next day’s tasks.

Creativity Comes In Many Forms

Creativity Comes In Many Forms

Chances are, if you don’t work in a “creative” industry like advertising or the arts, you may not spend a lot of time thinking about creativity. Your job might not call for creativity in the traditional sense of the word. But no matter what you do, you will run into problems at work. Some of those problems can be conquered with creative solutions.

Being Creative

When it comes to creativity, there is no shortage of quotes and anecdotes about what creativity is, and how to be creative. Here are just a few. Maybe you haven’t thought much about creativity. Or maybe you don’t think of yourself as a creative person. If you’d like to be more creative, the question becomes, can you? How do you begin to get those creative juices flowing? We decided to look a little bit deeper into a couple of quotes about creativity to find out.

Pablo Picasso – The Artist

Pablo Picasso said that, “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” The truth of this is easy to see. This line of thinking suggests that we all start out as creative, and some of us lose the inclination as we age. It’s no secret that children lack many of the inhibitions we slowly age into. This leaves kids able to explore and make mistakes without the fear of what others may think. Often too, with the rules of the world coming into focus as we get older, our imaginations can dwindle. Children are the most inventive because they don’t care what the rules are.

Leo Burnett – The Business Man

Leo Burnett started one of the worlds most successful advertising agencies. He said this about creativity. “Curiosity in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” They say that curiosity is a cat killer, but Leo Burnett suggests that being curious, asking questions, and investigating why things are they way they are is the secret to creativity. Looking at any small thing and wondering about it gets your thoughts moving and looking for ways something can be done differently.

Albert Einstein – The Genius

Perhaps the most famous smart guy ever, Albert Einstein said that, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” The key takeaway from this sounds like it should be the “having fun” part, but I think the focus should be on the bit about intelligence. A common phrase among writers is to write what you know. This old adage suggests that you must know your subject before you write about it. The same is suggested by Albert Einstein, to be creative, you must first have the intelligence, and then you can have fun with it.

So Turn on Your Creativity

If you’re faced with a problem at work, or you’re just looking to turn you on your creative faucet, follow the advice of these three. Leave your inhibitions behind and don’t focus on what you think is possible. Always be curious about the situation. Ask questions and poke and prod at a thing, no matter how small it may seem. Finally, learn about stuff. Learn everything you can about the problem at work, or whatever interests you. Then let that intelligence play around.

Do You Choose Comfort or Do You Choose Challenge?

Do You Choose Comfort or Do You Choose Challenge?

Let’s imagine two people at the beginning of their careers. Both start in an entry level position with basically the same qualifications. Both say they aspire to one day become head of a corporation.


Easier vs. harder

Both are presented with the opportunity to take on a new challenging role. Neither are particularly qualified for it.


Person A decides they’d prefer to stay where they are for a little longer and get more comfortable in their present position before taking on something quite that challenging.


A little nervous, Person B decides to take the chance anyway. Person B. doesn’t do all that well in the role. They realize they need to expand their skills in XYZ. They take the opportunity to seek out and shadow people with XYZ skills.


Consistent choices

Over the course of their careers, Person A and Person B are given the opportunity to take on extra work. Person A will generally choose to go home at the end of the work day and relax or hang out with friends. Rather than do that, Person B will generally choose to take on the extra responsibilities.


Person B will consistently put themselves in slightly uncomfortable situations in the name of testing what they’re made of and expanding their bounds.


It’s obvious where this is going. Person A always chooses the comfortable option. They won’t become head of a company, but it turns out when it came down to it, all that talk about possibilities was in actuality just talk.


Person B generally chooses to push out of their comfort zone. Even if they’re afraid of failing they try anyway. The shallow end of the pool is safe, but it holds no interest for them. There’s a big blue ocean out there. There’s no telling what they’re going to find in that ocean, what dangers may be lurking in its depths or what beauties, but they are determined to find out.

Person B may or may not become head of a corporation, but they will certainly have made way for the possibility!

Why A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Why A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Everyone knows, if you want to remember something you should write it down.  But did you know an even better way to establish something in your memory is to draw a picture? In a study from the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology participants were asked to remember a particular word by writing it down and by drawing it. Later when asked to recall the words, people remembered the ones they drew better than the ones they wrote down.


No art skills necessary

The other interesting thing was memory was boosted not only for words, but for concepts, ideas, imaginings. The drawing doesn’t even have to be good, it just needs to be enough to jog the memory. Something drawn in ten seconds or less will do the trick!


Your relationship with the visual

The reason drawing something creates such a strong bond is because in order to draw it, you have to focus on the thing you want to remember much harder than you would if you were simply writing the word down. You have to imagine how you’re going to draw it, and then take the time to draw it. Writing is automatic, but for most of us drawing is more involved and engaging.


People remember visuals more readily than words

Go ahead and try it yourself. Make a list of ten things you want to remember three days from now. Write down five of them and draw a picture of the other five and see which ones produce the better recall.


Drawing is something just about everyone enjoyed doing as a kid. Now it’s time to start enjoying it all over again as an adult. Take advantage of the benefits of drawing pictures as a memory aid and bring a little more art into your life!

Been Asked To Write Your Own Performance Evaluation?

Been Asked To Write Your Own Performance Evaluation?

Performance evaluationss are a part of every job. In general, the review is given to us, but sometimes we are asked to give a self-review.


Some people will jump at the chance to weigh in on how they’re doing. Others find the whole prospect so intimidating they’d rather pass on the review altogether.


If you’re in group B, don’t worry. We’re here to help.


What should you include?

Remember, even if you’ve been asked to do a self-review it doesn’t mean the powers that be don’t already have a clear picture of how you’ve been doing. They know what they think. They want to see what you think, so be honest. Talk about what you did well and where you fell short. Also talk about what you learned and ways you see to improve.


Questions to ask yourself

If you don’t know where to start here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

What aspects of your job do you enjoy? Why?

Is there an accomplishment you are particularly proud of?

Is there anything where you feel you missed the mark entirely?

What new things have you learned?

Are there things you would have done differently in retrospect?

Where do you feel you could use improvement?

Are there new skills you feel you need to acquire to better do your job?


Be professional

If you don’t think your boss or co-workers are doing a good job, now is not the time to bring it up. Focus on what you have done/plan to do. Don’t finish the review and hand it in immediately. Sit on it overnight. Read it again in the morning with fresh eyes to ensure everything is grammatically correct and you’ve included everything you wanted to include.


The benefits of a self-review

Even if you’re not thrilled at the prospect of doing a self-review, it is an opportunity to actually scrutinize what and how you’ve been doing. It’s one thing to passively listen to someone else tell you how you’ve been doing, it’s another to spend time determining it for yourself. Once you’ve done an honest self-evaluation you can take steps to improve where you need improving. You can set goals and make plans for what you want to do going forward.


Keep track of your accomplishments

Whether you are ever asked to write your own performance evaluation or not it’s a great idea to keep track of your accomplishments as you go. Not only are you keeping yourself on track, but if a self-assessment should come up, you don’t have to scrounge for examples of what you’ve been doing. You already have a list!

Create Peace Within Yourself

Create Peace Within Yourself

Do you ever wake up feeling anxious? You haven’t even gotten out of bed and your heart feels constrained.  The busy talk of your mind has already set in before your feet have even managed to slip into your slippers. You can’t even imagine inner peace. If we’re not careful the business of our lives can take over our lives and create more stress, more worry, more needless mental noise and physical turmoil than necessary.


It might feel like being stressed out is a normal part of busy lives, but that’s not true. We may not be able to control all the demands for our time and attention that stress us out, but we can manage our stress response. We can learn to quiet the overactive mind. Here are three simple de-stressers anyone can do at just about any time.


Progressive muscle relaxation

When you’re feeling overwhelmed your muscles unconsciously tighten. It’s as if they’ve grabbed hold of the stress and can’t let go. They way to pry the stress out of your muscles is to consciously tighten them, one at a time then release. The release triggers a relaxation response.


Give yourself about five minutes of undistributed time to go through your muscles. Find a quiet place to lie down. Take a couple of deep breaths. Then bring focus your attention on one part of your body at a time. Tense the muscles in that part of your body, holding as tightly as you can for a couple of seconds then let go. You will feel that part of your body relax in response. Start with your feet, go to legs, pelvis, stomach, chest, arms, shoulders, hands, neck, face.


Once you’ve finished with the individual muscle groups tense everything as tight as you can. Curl your toes, make your hands into fists, squeeze your eyes shut. Breathe in deeply through your nose then release the breath with an audible sigh through your mouth.


The sigh of relief

When we are stressed out we tend to breathe in the upper registers of our chests, in a very shallow way. As if we are in fight or flight mode. Deep breathing is a natural de-stresser.


Start by noticing your shoulders. Are they tense, are they hovering somewhere around your ears. Relax your shoulders and your jaw. Close your eyes and breathe in slowly through your nose, from deep in your solar plexus to the count of five. Hold your breath for a count of five then breathe out slowly through your mouth with an audible exhale for a final count of five. Repeat.


By slowing breathing in, and slowly breathing out with an exaggerated exhale you simultaneously release the stress response and activate the relaxation response.



When you hug someone with all the hug you’ve got, full arms, full heart and hold it for a moment you activate a natural oxytocin response. Oxytocin helps relax your blood vessels, strengthens your heart and helps your mind feel more impervious to stress.


A heartfelt hug can naturally release hormones your body needs to calm your busy mind and relax you physically.


Use these three simple techniques to help you find peace in yourself so you can find it outside yourself.

“What Sets You Apart From Other Job Candidates?”

"What Sets You Apart From Other Job Candidates?"

You are sitting there in your job interview and things are going well. You are qualified for the job, you’ve developed a rapport with the interviewer, you believe you can be an asset to this company.  The thing is there are ten other candidates interviewing for this position with just about the same qualifications. The interviewer has to determine what sets you apart from the pack. There’s a good chance he or she will come right out and ask – What makes you unique?


Don’t underestimate the importance of this question

If you’re not prepared for this question you might be inclined to go with the first thing that pops into your head. Something about your love of Fellini movies or a joke about never actually feeling unique because you are a twin.


Go deeper into your qualifications

This is not the time to try and wow the interviewer with unexpected answer or a joke, it’s time to double down with particulars of your qualifications. Get specific with details or anecdotes about your skills, or your experience. Talk about unique experiences you have had and how they will benefit your new employer. Or a situation where your skills made a difference either in a previous job or some other relevant aspect of your life. This is a good time to bring in numbers to back you up. With my X skill I was able to implement a time saving strategy that saved my co-workers Y hours a week.


Demonstrate how hiring you will make their lives better

Many people have similar qualifications. What is it about you that will make life in their location more productive/more pleasant/smoother. Are you particularly good at motivating others? Are you particularly adept at problem solving? Again don’t just say “I’m good at motivating others.” Put that statement into some sort of context with details to back it up.


The point here isn’t to toot your own horn about how great you are. It’s to talk about things you did that made a difference in previous situations. Let the interviewer conclude for themselves how great you are.

Go From To-Do to To-Done

Go From To-Do to To-Done

To Do lists are a great way to keep yourself organized and on track. They take the chaos of everyday and add order. Many people swear by them, but a to-do list only works if it manages to consistently become a to-done list.


If you’re one of those people who only manage to move their daily to-do list over to the next day and rather than one who consistently manages to get things done we’re here to help!


Make priorities your priority

If crossing things off your-to do list is motivating and makes you want to get to the next thing, imagine how motivating it would be to cross off a priority. Generally, your to-do list isn’t a list of ALL IMPORTANT things. It’s a list of everything you want to accomplish. Do yourself a favor and your life a favor and start with your priorities. You will breathe easier as soon as they are done and will be much more inclined to look at the rest of your list with an open heart and mind.


Don’t let your thoughts get in the way

So very often the biggest obstacle from getting things done is your thoughts about getting on with the task. The task doesn’t have to be hard or unpleasant for this to happen. It’s hard to say why we develop a mental block against doing certain things. Sometimes it’s a fear of failure, sometimes it’s a fear of success or the size of the task. Regardless of what’s blocking you, the best thing you can do is push aside your mental blocks and START. Tell yourself you’ll just give this task a two minutes. Most likely you’ll keep working on it past those two minutes because getting started is the hard part. However, whether you keep at it longer than two minutes or not you will have started. And when you get back to it the next day you’ll have already crossed the initial hurdle.


Don’t be swayed by the mermaid call of distractions

So many to-do lists are waylaid on the shores of distractions. Once you’re working on a task ignore your emails and the phone. Make your life a no social media zone until your task is complete.


Set goals for your list

One way to do this is to give each task a designated time slot. Rather than just writing down a list of things you want to get done in a day, give each one a time slot. Giving a task a time slot makes its completion seem more official. Set goals for yourself. By the end of the day I will have accomplished XYZ. Congratulate yourself on a job well done.


Break big tasks into smaller ones

If you are a procrastinator by nature a big task is exactly the sort of thing that will make you want to turn around and make a run for it. That’s why it’s important to break a big task down into smaller manageable pieces. Don’t think about trying to accomplish the whole thing. Think about the small section of it you are going to complete today. Every small section you complete will motivate you to keep going the next day.


Vanquish the perfectionist inside you

One of the big stopping blocks to getting things done is trying to get them done perfectly. By setting unattainable standards for yourself you’re blocking things from getting done at all. Do your best, not compared to anyone else, but compared to you and leave it at that.


Notice your thoughts

If you notice yourself giving yourself negative talk, nip it in the bud. Instead of letting yourself go on about how you will never get things done and the task is out of your ballpark, remind yourself that you’ve got this. By prioritizing and breaking big tasks into smaller ones and trusting yourself you’ve got this!

Move A Mountain One Stone At A Time

Move A Mountain One Stone At A Time

What is your ultimate goal? Go wild. Think of a mountain moving goal. If you could achieve anything what would it be? Assuming you went for that huge goal rather than something easily attainable, achieving it must feel nearly impossible. Of course, the mountain is impossible to move. But what about a stone? You could certainly move a stone. The key to achieving any goal is to step away from the overwhelming big picture and concentrate of the smaller things you need to do to get you there.


Now let’s say your goal isn’t actually mountain sized (even if it feels that way), but simply something you truly want to achieve.


Create a plan

Back to those stones. You don’t want to just go around moving them willy nilly. Although you might eventually make some headway, it won’t be as fast or efficient or helpful as if you have a plan. The way to achieve a long-term goal is by setting and achieving short term goals that get you from here to there. Write down everything you need to do, everyone you need to speak to, any courses you need to take, accomplishments you have to attain. What do you need to do first, second? Put them in order and set up a timeline for the completion of each.


To keep you motivated, your goals need to be attainable and relevant. They need to be SMART







Celebrate achievements along the way

On the way to achieving your long-term goal, you are achieving short term ones. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for those achievements. Reward yourself for a job well done. Give yourself reasons to feel good about yourself. Getting to the destination is great, but it’s also important to enjoy the sights along the way. To sometimes stop and take pictures and have a glass of wine in front of a job well done.

Be The Inspiring Leader That Brings Out The Best In Your Team

Be The Inspiring Leader That Brings Out The Best In Your Team

As a leader you know the success of your team is going to depend in large part on the people you have working with you. You spend a lot of time and energy finding just the right people. You don’t simply look for experience, you look for people with the right attitude, who you believe have potential, the ones you see growing with you and your team


Now the question is, how do help those people reach their potential?


Listen to them

When you give someone your complete attention, you are giving them space to express what they think and how they feel. People feel valued and want to do their best when they feel listened to. Really listening to someone isn’t simply a matter of listening to the words they say, it’s about listening with the intention of hearing the meaning of those words.


Does this person need help with some aspect of what they’re doing? Are they saying they can do more? Is something making them uncomfortable?


If you aren’t completely clear, ask questions. Listen to what they say and respond appropriately.


Give clear direction

Make sure people understand exactly what you expect from them. Never make assumptions about what they already know or what they can do. Ask them. Make it your business to know exactly what everyone you work with is capable of.


Challenging your people is great, but before you challenge someone to hit a homerun, confirm they know how to play baseball.


Once you start seeing results, ensure you praise effort not ability. A person who feels valued and encouraged will work a lot harder to do a great job than someone for whom a task comes easily.


The Fast Company article Six Habits of People Who Know How To Bring Out The Best in Others puts it this way, “As a leader, the most important part of your job isn’t your results. Your job is to inspire your employees’ results.”


Be honest

You may be really strong in certain things and less proficient in others. People will trust you if you are honest with them and in turn feel comfortable being honest with you. Instead of feeling like you need to appear to you know all the answers, let people know when you don’t. Let them know when you need help and accept it graciously when it’s offered. Trust and honesty are integral to building a strong team. Success in organizations with a strong team backbone is shared success everyone can feel proud of.


Acknowledge a job well done

When someone does good work or great work, acknowledge it. When someone feels like their efforts are noticed and appreciated they will keep doing what they’re doing and will be inspired to do even more


See the opportunity through the eyes of your team members

People are excited about doing their best when their work when it’s motivating and fulfilling. The article, Bringing Out The Best In Employees from the London Business School, mentions five characteristics employees consider important for feeling fulfilled in their work:


  • Having responsibility for doing something worthwhile
  • Being given a high level of freedom for how results are achieved
  • Having an opportunity to extend oneself and to develop expertise
  • Being given an opportunity to work with good colleagues
  • Achieving recognition for doing a good job.



Set an example

You want to inspire people to do their best. That means you need to be doing your best, day in and day out. You need to set the example for others to follow. The most long lasting, dedicated people are the ones who are inspired by possibilities. You might think you can get more out of people through intimidation or rewards, but really they will do their best when they’re inspired to do their best. Be the inspiration.