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Self-Care in High-Stress Workplaces

Your health is #1. Take care of it!

Taking care of ourselves in highly stressful work environments (that we all experience) is usually the last thing on our minds.  We are so focused on purely surviving, completing tasks and caring for others that we forget about ourselves.

Self-care tips in high-stress jobs

Self-care is often overlooked, or we feel we do not have the time, especially for those in naturally stress-inducing industries, as we help others in need.

Tammy Ward’s journey from her intense RCMP days to delivering life-transforming talks is inspiring. She’s lived through the kind of challenges that most only hear about, emerging with insights into stress, self-care, golden and grounded. Let’s dive into her tips for keeping cool and caring for yourself, even when stress is near. 

The Workplace "S" Word

It’s not what word might come to mind. This workplace “S” word greatly hinders productivity, revenue, and overall workplace satisfaction.

Stress is like that uninvited guest at your party – it just shows up. 

Stats Canada released a study in 2023 that revealed that a little over 4.1 million people experience high or very high-stress levels of work-related stress (over 21% of all employed people).

That’s a lot of stress. And there are a lot of sources for this stress. 

Stress in the workplace

Some stress sources outlined in the study were: 

  • Heavy Workload
  • Balancing Work and Personal Life
  • Emotional Load
  • Pay
  • Lack of Control 
  • Workplace Relationships
  • Job Security
  • Harassment/Discrimination 

And this isn’t an exclusive list. Stress can happen from many triggers. 

The American Psychological Association (APA) emphasizes that chronic stress can lead to significant health issues ranging from anxiety and depression to cardiovascular diseases.

We want to stay healthy, so how can we mitigate stress in the workplace?

Self-Care vs Stress

The average Canadian spends about 36 hours per week at work. That can feel like 1000 hours if you’re constantly stressed, overwhelmed, or unhappy in the workplace.

Self-care isn’t just for Sundays. 

Being intentional with practices aimed at maintaining and improving mental, emotional, and physical health counts as taking care of yourself. 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), effective self-care practices can mitigate the effects of stress and enhance one’s ability to cope with work-related pressures.

Integrating practical self-care rituals in your workday can exponentially impact the stress level you feel.

5 Practical Self-Care Strategies

Check out these tips from Tammy about integrating self-care in a high-stress work environment!

#1. Mindful Breathing:  Mindful Breathing: Inspired by Tammy’s emphasis on deep breathing, practice mindful breathing for a few minutes each day. This simple yet effective technique can help reduce stress, improve focus, and anchor you in the present moment.

#2. Physical Movement: Physical Movement: Whether it’s a structured yoga practice like the one Tammy founded or a short walk during your lunch break, incorporating physical activity into your routine can significantly alleviate stress and enhance your mood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity weekly aerobic activity.  The best form of movement is the one you enjoy!

#3. Non-Toxic Living: Tammy advocates for a holistic approach to wellness, which includes surrounding yourself with safer, cleaner products. Check your environment and make changes where possible to support a healthier lifestyle.

#4. Emotional Resilience: Drawing from her motivational talks, Tammy encourages facing challenges with courage and openness. Cultivate a support system, whether it’s through colleagues, friends, or professional networks, to share your experiences and learn from others. We all need someone we trust that we can talk with. Keeping everything inside is the worst thing we can do.

#5. Lunchtime Learning: Turn your breaks into opportunities for growth. Tammy’s approach to luncheon learning sessions can inspire you to dedicate time to personal development, even in the midst of a busy workday.

Forward-thinking organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of supporting employee well-being and self-care. This includes creating a culture that values work-life balance, offering wellness programs and learning, and providing resources for mental health support.

Put You First, And Seek Out Others

At the end of the day, the only one who will always be there for you is you.

Self-care is about the small stuff, like taking deep breaths when things get too much, moving around instead of sitting all day, leading a healthy lifestyle, getting enough sleep, and knowing when to step back and chill.

And hey, this isn’t a solo journey. Just like you’d lean on your friends or family when things get rough, it’s normal to look for support at work, too. A good supportive team, where everyone’s got each other’s back, can make inevitable stress much less daunting.

As Tammy often says, “Speak up as if your life depends on it… because it does!” Let this be your mantra for getting through stress in high-stress workplaces.