Prioritizing Yourself for the Betterment of Your People

This week’s post features a guest writer to share her insights.  Please welcome Cristina Guerra, MPH, CHES, CWWS, Wellness Coordinator (and guru).  Today she is giving a shout-out to YOU, the people leaders, working hard to support your organizations and employees.  The majority of her work is to support HR team by providing guidance on the development of wellness initiatives. This includes identifying resources (health, wealth, emotional well-being and lifestyle services), implementing wellness programs, and consulting on structured benefits that will be most engaging, supportive and inclusive for employees.

Insights from an Experienced Wellness Guru: Cristina Guerra, Certified Health Educator & Worksite Wellness Specialist

It is no easy task for all involved, and I have had countless conversations about what employees want and need, what they find valuable and what they struggle with. I know you are successful at prioritizing the wellbeing of your teams, and so this week I ask you this: what can you do to prioritize yourself?

From a wellbeing point of view, we all know the importance of self-care and tending to our own mental and physical health, but it’s easy de-prioritize our own needs, both at work and at home. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many individuals, myself included, ignore their own concerns for the sake of others. Yet in turn, doing so is wreaking havoc and harm on our ability to have an impact. It is always easier to recognize that this is happening in others because we can more clearly see when someone else is functioning from a state of anxiety, exhaustion or burnout.  So, we work to help others resolve those feelings, and we subordinate our needs and promise to address them later, tomorrow, and possibly wait so long until we need to be re-active rather than pro-active.

But what price do we pay? Not focusing on our own wellbeing can breed resentment between us and those who are close to us—even if we are the ones who are putting ourselves last, and not them. We grow easily irritated, rundown and become less effective. If I had to guess, you went into HR because you wanted to have an impact, but it’s very difficult to help others if you haven’t put your own oxygen mask on first.

If you’re finishing off your days feeling more like a survivor than a champion, take a moment to yourself. Close your eyes. Pull your shoulders down and away from your ears. Inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale slowly and in a controlled manner out of your mouth. With your eyes still closed, check in with yourself. What do you need to do to to serve yourself in this moment, so that you can better serve others? Once you’ve identified something you can do for yourself, take the next step to write it down, and then make it happen.

Self-care looks different for everyone. I am often go-go-go, rarely allowing myself any down time, so for me, self-care one day might be getting my exercise in and doing an avocado face mask. The next it might be making my favorite tea and reading some of my book. Another day it it might mean allowing myself to take a nap without feeling “less-than” for needing some extra energy, or grabbing a snack and watching an episode of my latest Netflix obsession without feeling like I’m wasting precious productivity-time. But, we can re-frame some of those beliefs.  Self-care is productive, so however you care for your needs, it’s worth the time and effort, whatever that means to you. What self-care, tending to our needs, and prioritizing ourselves looks like might change daily, but the outcome is always that you can operate from a higher frequency. 

So, this is your gentle reminder to do something for you today. You deserve it!

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