How I Practice Self-Care and Set Boundaries at Work

Just as it is vital to set boundaries in your everyday life, it’s equally important to set boundaries for yourself at work!

Practicing self-care should be the norm in all workplaces.

According to a recent survey, practicing self-care boosted confidence in 64% of people, increased productivity in 67%, and increased happiness in 71%. These are stats we shouldn’t ignore!

While it is still not encouraged by many employers, it is vital to your mental and physical health to start practicing self-care and setting boundaries for yourself at work.

Self-Care In The Workplace

Recently I have made it a top priority to practice self-care in the workplace.

For me, that looks like setting boundaries and holding firm about them with my coworkers and even with my management.

I’ve made these boundaries a point from the start of my employment in my current role.

When I interviewed I was firm about how I am as an employee and what I can bring to the table. But I also negotiated my salary quite well, and after starting, I made it a point not to go above and beyond with my work duties.

However, I do my work duties well, do all I’m asked, and take the initiative when necessary. It’s important to distinguish that difference.

Work hard, and do your job well, but there is no need to go above and beyond expectations unless you are getting paid to go the extra mile.

Going above and beyond is a long out-dated expectation that employers have of employees.

When you overwork yourself and have no boundaries you are bound to become overwhelmed, stressed, and burnt out. This then creates a ripple effect down a path to poor mental health, reduced confidence, and low self esteem.

The only person not having boundaries at work hurts is you. Every one else is benefitting from your stress and overwhelm; and that is simply not fair.

If you feel stuck in a rut with being walked on at work or are struggling to enforce your personal boundaries, this article is for you. Here is more on how I practice self-care and set boundaries at work.

How I Set Boundaries At Work

I didn’t always set boundaries at work. I honestly didn’t really know how to because I was always stuck in the mindset of having to overwork myself to prove myself or to show I was exceeding expectations.

After my mental and physical health suffered greatly in my previous job, I decided that was the end of that and in my next job, I would approach everything differently.

Because of this, my outlook changed drastically and as a result, so did my behaviors.

I changed my vocabulary.

From the first day I started, I removed phrases from my vocabulary that I would regularly spew out in my previous jobs:

  • Instead of saying “I’m happy to take on any extra tasks that come up.” I say: “Let me know If you would like my help with that task.”
  • Instead of “I’m all done with my tasks, is there anything else I can help with?” I say: “I will make sure to get these tasks completed in a timely manner.”
  • Instead of “That’s not my job.” I say: “This was not listed in my job description, however, if you would like to review my job duties, along with compensation, I’d be happy to discuss this.”
  • Instead of telling someone to stay in their lane, I say “Thanks for your input, I’ll keep that in mind for the next time.”

I now limit myself with my workload and I stopped feeling guilty.

With the phrases I use above, it really helps me to be able to limit my workload in a professional manner.

When management asks me to to take on an extra task, I simply use the phrases above or I don’t put myself out there too much.

I just try to limit my workload as much as possible. In my previous jobs, I never knew how to do this. I was honestly too scared to say no. Which brings me to my next point…

I started to say “no” by establishing boundaries with coworkers.

Yep. As scary as it may seem, I started saying no to certain things.

I started by practicing in my head by reminding myself “that is not my responsibility.” And once I did that, it became easier to not only say it aloud but to enforce it aloud.

Sometimes I still get the urge to want to help out a coworker with their tasks when I see how stressed out they are.

I’ve had coworkers who don’t know how to say “no” and take on too much work and are stressed out. And that feeling rubs off on me; it made me feel bad and want to help them with their workload.

I stopped inflicting that on myself. If someone can’t find their own boundaries in the workplace, it is not my responsibility to help them. Especially if they aren’t willing to accept the help/advice that comes with setting boundaries.

Do your mental health a favor and just keep to yourself. I’m not saying not to help with little things here and there, but don’t stress yourself out because your coworker got themselves into that predicament.

I take ALL of my PTO/vacation/sick time.

One of the biggest misconceptions about taking time off is that it is frowned upon to take time off. It isn’t though.

Girl, take your time off. Use it all. Down to every last hour and minute. Don’t feel guilty either.

In 2018, 768 million vacation days in the United States went unused. That is time you earned to take off. It doesn’t benefit you to not take it.

I used to feel guilty and felt like I had to explain to all my coworkers why I had to take time off, or why I was sick. Not anymore. I call in sick, let my manager know, and that’s it.

I request vacation time whenever I want to and don’t worry about who will cover while I’m gone. Why? Because it’s not our concern, as an employee, to worry about what is happening when we’re not at work. It’s your boss’ concern.

Enjoy your time away. Life is way too short.

How I Practice Self-Care at Work

In order to set all these boundaries you have to learn to practice self-care, daily.

That means truly caring for your mental and physical well being. I like to make sure I am setting myself up for success.

Here are simple changes I made in my day-to-day routine that have helped both my mental and physical health.

I take the stairs instead of the elevator.

I work in a major hospital with several floors. Taking the stairs wakes me up in the morning and keeps me energized throughout the day.

I take walks during my breaks and lunch.

Walking on my break helps my mental health tremendously, plus I am getting in a workout while at work.

Getting your heart rate up is so healthy for your entire body. We were not made to sit all day.

I create a “shutdown routine” towards the end of my day.

When it’s about 15 minutes before I leave, I start getting ready to leave so that I’m out of here right on the dot.

That means getting my purse ready, closing down any windows not needed, making sure all tasks are done well before I’m off.

I leave as soon as the clock hits the time that I’m off. I don’t stress about needing to stay late, nor do I stress about feeling obligated to stay.

Drink more water and bring healthier lunches.

I drink more water and make sure to pack healthier lunches. Drinking more water is so beneficial for you. It will help you to feel more energized throughout the day.

Bringing a healthy lunch will also help fight that afternoon fatigue that so many have at work after lunch time.

I wear something cute.

Silly as it may be, dressing cute has so many benefits.

Putting effort into my outfit to show up as my best self makes me feel good. It creates a feeling of feeling good about myself while also feeling my best. I exude confidence, which in turn leads to a better and happier day. Instant mood lifter!

In Summary: Setting Boundaries and Practicing Self-Care at Work

It’s so important to practice self-care and set these boundaries at work for yourself. It’s vital to all components of your health and well being. Please do yourself a favor and start today.

Start small or start big. However you decide, make the changes that are needed to improve your health and mood and I promise, you will notice an instant difference.

How do you plan to set boundaries and practice self-care in your workplace?

About the Author

Jovi Casie

Jovi studied Journalism at Southwestern College. She currently works full time and is a mom to a beautiful daughter, named Olivia. When she isn’t working or spending time with family and friends, she enjoys being a crazy plant lady, watching HGTV and spending quality time with her daughter. You can often find her cozied up in a local coffee shop writing for her personal blog. She hopes to one day work full time as a writer and to inspire others to live a happy and successful life.