Self Care Ideas That Most Corporate Professionals Haven't Considered
You can't go very far when you're running on empty, no matter how hard you push. And that's why we've come up with this fun episode for you — consider it a virtual "filling station." All you need to do for now is hit the brake, find clarity, and refill your tank with self care ideas that use your natural talents.
Just like operating from your unique strengths, practicing self care makes a world of difference. Self care is not self-ish, because it results in giving your world the best of you [very punny, right?].
No matter your role in your team, your strengths can guide you in choosing the tasks that replenish you so that you can contribute your best - and achieve goals with less effort.
Our host Lisa Cummings is joined once again by TyAnn Osborn, and together they will guide you towards the things that could re-energize you. As you'll find out, filling up on self care ideas doesn’t have to be limited to studying mindfulness, meditation, and massage.
Surprisingly, self care can feel really practical in the workplace, despite the typical connotation, which seems to live outside of the office. There are many self care ideas that come right out of your natural talents - ways you can approach your work to re-energize you while you simultaneously get things done.
Here’s their conversation:
Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings, and you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work.
Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room, TyAnn Osborn.
Lisa: Today, we're talking about... We don't know yet what we're talking about, because we're doing a spin-the-wheel, where it tells us what we're talking about for the day. So let's spin.
Lisa: Ooh, this one is talking about self care ideas...
TyAnn: Self care.
Lisa: When you run empty.
Lisa: No, you should just start this Ty, because you've talked about when the cup is empty, you have nothing to give. We definitely need some self care ideas up in here.
How These Self Care Ideas Can Help You Avoid Burnout
TyAnn: That's it. So I think this is a really important topic right now. And, you know, we're all facing different struggles, no matter what it is. Depending on when you listen, there can be any number of things happening.
Maybe you've got a personal health struggle, maybe you're facing job troubles, potential job loss. Maybe you've got some family stuff going on, kids stuff going on. I don't know, maybe there was a global pandemic.
There's all kinds of things happening in the world right now, and something is probably happening in your life.
And here's the deal. You know, we have a lot of demands and pulls on our time and our energy. And often, we're trying to give so much to other people. If you're a manager, a people manager, you know, you're really trying to show up and be the best for your team. If you've got kids you're trying to give. If you're a volunteer, you're trying to give.
But the truth is, you can't give from an empty cup. And so this is really where we've got to build self care ideas in our own life so that we can have our own replenishment - things that help us so that we can help give to other people. Because, believe me, if you're just gonna keep pouring, nothing's gonna come out.
Lisa: That's a good point. It's kind of like, if you use your cup metaphor, I'm going to drink, there's nothing there. I'm trying to take a sip, there's nothing there.
TyAnn: Yeah, you're still slurping on that straw, like (slurps)... Nothing happening.
Lisa: And I, I see this with a lot of clients where we want to be it all. We want to give it all. We want to do it all.
Lisa: I have very high expectations of myself that I never meet. I see customers who have high expectations of themselves that they never meet, and they feel crushing expectations from other people around them, so that same family member, teammate, boss, all of those situations, and they are like, "Everyone wants a piece of me, and I've got nothing."
TyAnn: Yeah, "I've got nothing to give." And believe me, that is the number one recipe for burnout right there. Because, you know, we're people and a lot of us are strong in terms of achievement, and being able to really, you know, move forward. That's why we're successful in our careers. And we've kind of gotten to these points. But believe me, there's only so far you can push this before you will just hit a wall.
And often, you and I've talked about this before, oftentimes your body will tell you you've hit a wall before your brain will intellectually let you believe it. And, you know, I heard this one time on Oprah, she said, the universe speaks to you. And first, it'll be a whisper. And if you don't listen, then it'll start tapping a little louder. And finally, you know, if you keep not listening, it'll smack you upside the head. So I think it's really important to generate self care ideas, and create a practice.
And we can talk about, "What does that look like from a strengths perspective?"
Lisa: Yeah. When I think about self care ideas, I think about fitness. I think about fuel in the body, like what you're eating and drinking. I think about, "Am I consciously trying to direct my work to allow energizing things?"
Lisa: I also think about hobbies. Am I doing things in life that fill my cup back up?
Different Energizers For Different Folks — Scrap The Judgment
Lisa: There are a lot of things I think people can list if you ask, "What things energize you?"
Lisa: But then how many do you allow yourself to do, and how do you know the payoff, like, “Okay, if I allow myself to sleep 9 hours a night, which my body thinks it wants…”
Lisa: We can have self care ideas, but we might not give ourselves permission to try them. It feels self-indulgent.
TyAnn: So true.
Lisa: ...I think, "I don't have time for that. I have too much to do." But I think I also would like to drive to a gym and go do yoga in the morning and then, start work around noon, and...
TyAnn: Play with your dogs and the drums and take a nap.
Lisa: Yeah, I have songs to write. I have drums to play. I have dogs to take care of. I have a husband to hang out with. I have a lot to do. And that takes up a whole workday all by itself. These are beautiful self care ideas, yet I need to bring home the bacon too.
TyAnn: Right?! Did you time for work?
Lisa: Who's got time for that?
TyAnn: Yeah. So how do you fit these self care ideas into your day? And how does this feel like not just one more thing I have to do? And then where can I get the biggest bang for my buck?
Lisa: Yeah. Good point. You can have self care ideas, but they can also feel burdensome because they take up time. So what's the first step? I mean, and we're doing this related to strengths.
TyAnn: So what are all the answers to this mystery?
So a few things. I will just offer a personal bias. I think this word "self care" is used a lot now. It's thrown around. And sometimes when I hear it, it feels a little soft. Or it's all about like taking long hot bubble baths or something. And I think that feels a little squishy to me.
So how about we just say, things that replenish you? Whatever that is for you.
Lisa: The magic wand, we are now turning "self care ideas" into "things that replenish you." Very simple. That definitely makes it less squishy.
TyAnn: Yeah. And I also think we can take away judgment on that, because something that makes you feel good might not make me feel good. So it's very personal to you.
Lisa: Well, I think that we have one of those because I think that you're making fun of bubble baths, but that you actually do like them. And you like to read in the bath.
TyAnn: I do.
Lisa: Meanwhile, when we built our house, we built a bathless house because we don't take baths.
TyAnn: Hey, interesting trend in real estate, right?
Lisa: Is it?. I didn't realize that.
TyAnn: As someone who just went through that process, now you go in, it's kind of polarizing. Bath person. No bath person.
Some people have the big freestanding bathtub, it's a whole spa. Other people are like, "No, that's big waste." So it is a good metaphor for this topic.
Lisa: It totally is.
TyAnn: Because one person's replenishment is another person’s waste of space. So that's something that I do for myself and actually recommend for my clients as well. It’s just...take out a white sheet of paper. I'm a big believer in like analog tools, or get a whiteboard, and then just list out stuff you like.
And here's what's interesting. Sometimes that can be paralyzing to clients, like, “Oh, my God, where do I even start?” So just take away all of the judgment. It can be little things like, "I like chocolate ice cream." That can't be my entire self care regimen, by the way, or I'd gain 50 pounds. But, you know, just start listing without judging the list.
Creation and editing are two very different processes. Separate them so we can start listing out things. Start with the creation of a list. Write all of the things that replenish you. If that feels too limiting, just write things that you like - activities you enjoy.
Lisa: Don't judge it while it's landing on the page.
TyAnn: No judgment. As Planet Fitness says "this is a no judgement zone," (even though they misspelled judgment). So...
Lisa: They did?
TyAnn: Some judgment...
Lisa: You’re judging the judgment spelling, that is.
TyAnn: I know, judgment, right? Slightly judgy. So I would just say, try that, or I get clients stuck on... "I can only list work things that I'm excited about..."
Lisa: Ha ha. I hear your Maximizer talent coming out.
Maybe we can do categories for their self care ideas.
Lisa: Let's come up with some categories. You could list work things that you like,
TyAnn: Could be...
Lisa: Work people that you like.
TyAnn: (laughs) That's a big one.
Lisa: Because people are like, “You replenish me. When I'm around you, my energy goes up.”
TyAnn: But there are some people who don't replenish us. So they wouldn't go on the list.
Lisa: Right? Ha ha. Okay. So we've got work...tasks or responsibilities. We've got people.
TyAnn: Maybe workplaces.
Lisa: Ooh, like physical places?
TyAnn: Yes. Or maybe if you get to travel somewhere that's fun. Or maybe traveling for you to some location you dread that maybe you have to go once a quarter. And that's really a de-energizer for you. So don't put that on your list.
Lisa: And you might know, "Hey, I'll make another list of things I need to get my energy up because I know it's going to be drained more...when these things happen."
TyAnn: So this is the “things that bring me energy” list. So work stuff... and get as granular as you can in terms of work tasks. So I don't recommend putting things on there like, the XYZ project, because that's way too big.
So get very granular about what specifically about that project did you like? Did you like interacting with the project team members, because it was just that awesome team where you really felt like you clicked with everyone? Or was it because you got to be out front? That would be me. You know it to be out on stage or I get to be the one making the presentation. Or maybe you're that spreadsheet jockey and you came up with just a brilliant thing that you pushed a button and all these magic happened, and it was the coolest thing ever.
That would not be me. But for someone that could be.
Lisa: You can also see trends after the list is complete...if you make yourself stick with the list-making when it gets tough for a minute. Then you can see bigger trends. Like one that I know for me I've figured out is, I like making things, but I like making a class. I like making an audio file. I like making a song up. I like making all sorts of different types of making. Some are very tech-focused. Some are super creative, but I couldn't see that trend until I listed a bunch of the details.
That's when you get self care ideas that you never expected. They don't come out on the first pass.
TyAnn: That’s great! I love that. So then you can go back and say what is it about these things that are similar? It's a creative process.
Embracing What’s 'Weird' And Improving On What’s 'Standard' Are Self Care Steps Too
TyAnn: Yeah. And this is for people who are like, "Oh, I can't list that, because that...that doesn't count. Or, I don't want anyone to know that I secretly like to….[insert whatever crazy hobby it is].
I was working with a group of chemical engineers. And this one gentleman, he stood up, and he said, “I like Dutch oven cooking.”
And I thought, what a brave thing to say in front of a room of other chemical engineers. And I'm like, “You go! Dutch oven cooking! What a specific niche thing to do.” It's a brilliant self care idea, but he never would have called it that.
Lisa: Yeah. It makes me think of "things you do to decompress" as another category for the list of self care ideas.
Tyann: I didn't even know that was a hobby. And I like to cook too.
And whatever it is, it doesn't matter. It's all about what rejuvenates you.
Lisa: Back to your analog self care idea list: I facilitate an activity like this. I'll put the timer on two minutes, and I'll say, “Don't let the pen stop... keep going as a stream of consciousness thing."
What did I like doing when I was 9?
What am I doing when I lose track of time?
What activities are fun?
Who is fun to be around?
What am I good at?
What comes easily to me?
What makes me feel alive?
What am I saying when I crack myself up?
What topics to I love to learn about?
What makes me different from the average person?
If you just can't think of an answer, keep the pen going and move to another angle." What you brought up for me is my follow-on, that I'll often have people do, which is: Keep this out for a week, because you need to grab the little moments that you didn't even know, “Oh, I got a little spark out of that idea and it reminded me of a whole new set of self care ideas.”
And one of them that I think is really cool is: What makes you weird? And if I just ask you that, like, how many things could you list? Well, I might be able to add more than a normal person. But the little things like, what has anyone ever commented on? Because they'll come up. They'll pop in your head later.
Lisa: Okay, a weird thing about me is I eat canned things, because I like to eat vegetables and I like to be efficient. And I don't like spending a lot of time on my food. But I do want quality food in me. So somewhere in the middle, I found a jar of beets that I eat for my snack or my lunch. That's weird. I just stick my fork in the jar of beets and I eat it. Isn't that bizarre?
TyAnn: Lisa eats green beans out of the can as well.
Lisa: I will. Green beans are doable... but.. some of them are too squishy, like canned asparagus and spinach. Those are a no-go… Green beans, corn, beets — all workable for moments of vegetable efficiency.
But that is very weird. But if you start looking at it like, what energizes me? The energizing part isn't the beets. It's finding new efficiencies. Finding ways to break a rule, like that rule makes me think about how I don't have to cook because other people do.
I remember a moment when I got feedback at my house that I was not running the dishwasher as often as it should be because we were running out of forks. And so my answer was *not* to wash dishes more frequently or run the dishwasher more frequently. It was to buy more forks. And I got a real kick out of that. It was my special way of being efficient and effective.
So these weird things about you can generate surprising self care ideas.
TyAnn: I love that.
Lisa: When you see “Oh, I love coming up with something that is a solution to a problem that is not normal, that no one else would think of.” And I'll get a jazz out of that that will give me an hour-long high.
Lisa: So being able to write down those things, like the moments where you got a boost or you got a kick out of yourself.
TyAnn: This is so great. So you've said a couple of things that I think are brilliant.
Life is made up of all these little moments that are punctuated by the big thing.
But 99% of life is...just we go through life, right? So that's where we can look. And so much of what you said is like a Maximizer coming out, which by the way, I'm that as well.
But two examples for you in the food realm.
So we started getting those home boxes that come with the food and the recipe. The box comes in, you have the recipe and you put it all together. Usually it's my job to put the ingredients together.
Occasionally, my husband will put it together but he takes the recipe and goes exactly step by step and it comes out and, you know, it's fine.
I'm different. I take the recipe and use it as a launchpad. It's like a starting point because I'm often thinking, "Hmm, you know, what would make this better?Just a little bit of shallot, a little bit of garlic, you know, a dash of cinnamon..."
And then I’ll present it to him, he's like, “This is not the recipe.” I'm like, “I know. It's better. It's better.” That's like a hallmark of Maximizers: "I’m gonna make this better!"
Lisa: And it makes you really excited.
TyAnn: Oh, huge, huge jazz out of it. 'Cause I sort of have this image of myself back at the test kitchen of whatever company being all like, “I made it better,” even though that's not my job and I would never do that. Anyway, in my head, it's pretty exciting.
So, and a long time ago, back when the interwebs were still very new, I had this website, and one of the things I did was reviews of restaurants and products. This is really crazy to think about now.
But do you remember flight — I know, we'll get back there one day — and in the in-flight magazine, how there were always those lists of like, top 10 steak houses in the United States.... Well, I took that as a challenge. And so I decided to go visit all of them, and then do reviews on them and see if I really thought they were the top 10 steak houses.
So then I had a whole thing on.
Lisa: And you had this whole energy...
TyAnn: I do!
Lisa: ...about it.
TyAnn: And I'm 100% sure no one ever read that. But it didn't matter. I wasn't doing it for the audience, I was doing it as, like, a quality kind of thing.
Lisa: Hmmm. What's your take...you're making me think of...on the topic of self care ideas...how fulfilled we feel as humans and how alive we feel as humans, because I think there's a difference between being alive and feeling alive, like feeling alive for what you're doing. And that so much of it can come from striving and having a goal and that there's something around it even if it's something like, “I have this thing, I'm going to visit these 10…places."
Lisa: Whatever that thing is, so even making one of those lists...instead of it being an inventory of things you've found yourself get a charge out of it, could be like, “Oh, that sounds fun. I'm actually going to go do that.”
TyAnn: You know, there was research that was done about, and this was really done on couples and families. And something that was particularly bonding was something they came up with and called it a quest. But it works for individuals too, that whenever you have a quest, something that you're doing together, and it doesn't have to be like, “We're gonna go visit every continent,” even though that could be fun, but that might be a little unattainable for a lot of people, it could just be, “We're gonna go check out all of the state parks in a 30-mile radius from our house.”
TyAnn: Or we're gonna find a public fishing hole near where we live. I mean, it doesn't, it literally doesn't matter what it is. It's just something that's a common goal for you.
Bringing Strengths Into Self Care By Focusing On Things That Energize You
Lisa: I like that as a very actionable thing that you could do with this, where you're like,
"How can I do self care? Can I bring my strengths into it?"
And by the way, you can look at them and say,
"What would light these up?"
And that can be part of your list making. But also, if you do things that feel easy to you and energizing to you, they probably are in alignment with your strengths naturally.
TyAnn: That's a clue to strengths, too.
TyAnn: Usually your strengths are things that bring you energy and you feel naturally attracted to. So it doesn't matter if it's, "You know what, I'm going to try a seasonal fruit or vegetable this month. This is going to be the month of asparagus, and I'm going to go try that.” Whatever.
Or, "We're going to try a new place." You know, you often hear this, "We're going to try something new." Because if you put yourself out there a little bit, but it's a new adventure of some sort, it kind of satisfies a lot of this neat thing. And that's what really gets a lot of cool juices flowing for you. Doing the same thing over and over tends not to stroke that same area for you.
Lisa: Yeah. And I like how you do the... If you're going to come up with a quest as one of the action items like, what could your quest be? And could you have a quest that would be a workplace quest or a family quest? And then could you do one that would feel really enlivening to one of your strengths? And then even if you wanted to have a work or family conversation around it, how could this quest be really fun for this family?
Lisa: Or how could this quest, this big aspirational goal that the team is heading toward, which… How could you find a way that one of your strengths comes alive through it? It would be a really cool conversation.
Lisa: I don't know if this is the same video you were talking about with research? Jane McGonigal was a researcher and she was recovering from a concussion. She started a quest to get better. There's a TED talk where she describes what she did to power up. She called it Super Better. And it was how she gamified getting better. She was also a gamer and she figured out a way to get super better, but bits at a time. And this quest notion, whether or not she used those words.
TyAnn: I love that.
Lisa: ...it was baked into it. And it gives you a way to get there. Instead of feeling like, I think when people are bad at self care, when we're doing ourselves wrong, it's because I'm like, “Well, I'm, I haven't worked out this week, so I'm going to eat tater tots for breakfast.”
TyAnn: We like tater tots in our house as well. Gotta say. Tater tots loving family. And then someone might say, well, and if I had tater tots for breakfast, I might as well just go all in and have cake for lunch. And...
Lisa: Oh, and I put ice cream on my list of self care ideas. So we have that and then you're all downhill.
TyAnn: But it's an interesting kind of this concept too. So you know, a lot of people have workout on their list because they think that's what should be on the list. So I would say stop shooting on yourself. What brings you energy is what brings you energy. No one's creating this, by the way.
And so if you feel like a natural attraction to you would like to get more activity in your life, that doesn't have to mean I have to go to the gym for an hour and a half, and get on some torturous piece of equipment that I don't want to be on, that makes me feel icky... Or, I have to go to a Body Pump class where I'm embarrassed and don't know how to do it. That's not what that means.
Lisa: Yeah, I think that thing, like remembering, there's a notion, maybe it's one that other people have put out there for you. Or maybe it's something you've made up about what that word means. Workout is a good example of one that's loaded.
TyAnn: Yeah, a lot of baggage,
Lisa: I think quick shout out to the book, Eat, Move, Sleep. That’s a really good one for self care ideas.
Lisa: …asking yourself, how are you on your eating and moving and sleeping? But okay, like if you said, “Okay, I want to move.”
Lisa: What kind of moving is fun for me? Maybe for one person, it's taking a walk with a friend, and you got to have the social connection while you were power walking. For the next person, it’s going to a group exercise class.
Like I had... I went and hooked up my Xbox again, for the Kinect, to dance to Fergie. I mean, it's silly, but that's a fun workout for me. So why don’t I do it?
TyAnn: That counts. That counts.
Lisa: And then you go, “Oh, well. Well, I do. Why don't I hook that back up?
Lisa: Why do I have that unplugged?
TyAnn: So if you want to be Dance Dance Revolution, man, knock yourself out!
Lisa: I love Dance Dance Revolution.
TyAnn: Or if you just want to crank up the music, or take a walk, or if you want to try some, you know, whatever new class is out there...
Lisa: Take a whole new class! Whatever sounds fun for you.
TyAnn: ...there’s something. So I think it really is trying to get away again from, if you write something down because you feel you should, I would say take another look at that, because that's not bringing you energy. And this is supposed to be a self care list about things that are exciting to you and bring you energy.
So if you feel like you should call your mom every day and spend an hour on the phone with her, but that doesn't bring you energy, don't put that on your list. Don’t put that on your list.
Or even working out. If that doesn't sound so great to you, think about, “What does sound great to me? Hanging out with my friend sounds great. So maybe, I get an accountability partner at the gym. Then, that can be where I go to see my friends, I've kind of paired something I'm a little more iffy at with something I'm excited about. So together, I'm sort of killing two birds with one stone in a way that still feels awesome."
TyAnn: So I think that's part of that self care. So I would just say, get back to that creative space. Think about those things which bring you energy. Try to get down to those micro-segments.
I like organizing, that brings me energy. And so if I'm feeling a little out of sorts,
TyAnn: If I'm feeling a little out of sorts, I might just literally pull open my desk drawer and just get it sorted out.
Lisa: Oh, this is the perfect closing to this.
Self Care Need Not Be Hard Or Inconvenient — Grow On Micro Habits
Lisa: On the best self care ideas: My favorite TyAnn concept of the universe is “stop making things so hard.”
I make life hard because I think of all of these things I should be doing or want to do or that would feel great. But then they feel too gratuitous. It just feels like too much time. I don't have that much time for these eight hours of things I would prefer to do during the day.
TyAnn: It's too much.
Lisa: So the opening one drawer, and organizing one little space...
Lisa: The reading one page of a book, not even one chapter, but I like reading, I read one page.
TyAnn: Yoohoo, ‘crushing it! I’m winning.
Lisa: If you’ve read Atomic Habits, have you checked out that?
TyAnn: Yes. Yeah.
Lisa: It's like, I will put my workout shoes next to my bed, and I will put my workout shoes on and then maybe...I will do 10 push-ups, and that's your only expectation for yourself — 10 push-ups, just something that is...
TyAnn: ...that you can crush, you can win...
Lisa: ...very small and doable.
Lisa: ...and let it grow.
TyAnn: And you're like, I want to eat more vegetables. Great, I ate one asparagus. Winning! (laughs) Right? As opposed to, “Well, now I have to become a vegan.”
...which seems like a big thing.
Lisa: That is so funny as a closing thought too because I have some like vegan experimenting things that…
Lisa: Yeah! Say I’m plant-curious. If you're listening, hey, Becky Hammond from Isogo Strong!
TyAnn: We love Becky!
Lisa: Becky's a vegetarian. I was talking about well, you know, if I were to do it, I would just go vegan because I don't eat dairy so I would just like, that's the big battle with going vegan to me anyway, is I can't eat dairy anyhow. So I got past the vegetarian vegan thing. But I don't know about that.
And I started giving all of these reasons: "This gets in my way...this makes it a precarious approach...and this makes it inconvenient. And she's like, “Just have one more plant-based meal per day."
I said, “Oh, hello!” I hadn't thought of that.
TyAnn: Something doable.
Lisa: Stop making everything all or none. Stop making everything have a mutually exclusive this or that.
TyAnn: Stop making it so hard. Stop making it so hard.
Lisa: And with that, I think it is…the perfect ending.
So you've been listening to Lead Through Strength. As you think about not making it so hard and bringing your strengths into your self care practice, walk away with your list. Log those moments over the next month, maybe just a week or a few days. But catch the moments that were fun to you. Come let us know on social what they were for you because it is fun to hear the energizing moments for other people.
TyAnn: Absolutely. We'll talk about all of the self care ideas.
Lisa: We will. Because the variety is so much fun when you learn one person's trash is another person's treasure - in hobbies and in tasks at work. So with that, let us know which ones you're starting to implement.
We would love to hear how you took five more minutes for your self care so that you can fill your cup because we don't want you out of water. With that, we'll see you next time. Bye for now.
Resources: Self Care Ideas To Help You Fuel Up Your Strengths And Fire Up Your Life
Vital to self care is staying at your top form and performing better at work by knowing what keeps your strengths honored and insulted. Visit Lisa’s insightful episode about finding energizing tasks at work to discover what situations (or cultures) can either drain or motivate you based on your strengths.
But simply knowing what honors and insults your strengths or talents cannot complete a self care process. Lisa’s Strengths Blind Spots episode serves as a great reminder to “feed our talents the same way we feed our body." Spend time developing and nurturing them instead of squashing them down so they can best serve your performance and, ultimately, that of the team.
Finally, check out this episode on Wellbeing: Bravely Build a Fit Body and Mind Through Strengths with Lisa and Matt Swenson. You’ll learn to create healthy strengths habits around the 5 essential elements of wellbeing: career, social, financial, physical, and community. Life-changing self care ideas!