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Opinion: 6 ways to elevate self-care, well-being

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According to a recent report by Gallup, employee well-being affects the number of employee sick days, job performance, burnout and the possibility of unwanted turnover. While there are steps an organization can take to promote well-being as it relates to corporate objectives, there are many ways individuals can take responsibility to elevate their self-care and well-being personally and professionally.

  1. Master your energy. In our instant access world, we forget that we can set boundaries to master energy. For example, you can manage mental energy by getting a small break every 60-90 minutes by the way you set boundaries in your calendar. Set up your appointments on the hour but give the actual appointment time 30-45 minutes, allowing for a boundary of time to stretch or get a glass of water. In addition, you don’t have to be available for every request. If someone interrupts you asking for a minute of your time, you can say, “I can’t meet with you right now, but if you want to set up a time to talk at 2 today, I’m available.” You take control of your energy when you understand that boundaries are completely within your own control and are not subject to other people’s demands.
  2. Resolve inner conflicts. Although it may seem that conflict is about another person or an unfortunate situation, there is no conflict unless there’s an inner conflict first. The inner conflict is an opposing drive, demand or desire related to values or priorities. For example, you want a promotion, but you’ve been putting off talking with your boss about your desire. You want to elevate your career, but you also want to avoid rejection. You can recognize inner conflicts by paying attention to your feelings of dread, anxiety, frustration and other signs of misalignment. If unaddressed, inner conflict affects your well-being.
  3. Seek regulation before resolution. Conflict is a leading contributor to elevated stress and relationship dysfunction. If you’re in conflict with someone, it’s easy to lose control and have regrets later. That’s because when you’re overstimulated, your prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of your brain) shuts down, and your primal brain takes over. The primal brain only cares about self-protection and doesn’t consider the consequences of overreacting. One of the most important self-care principles is learning how to self-regulate. Self-regulation is the ability to stabilize thoughts and feelings before reacting in a way you’ll regret later. The rule of thumb is this: When angry or agitated, it’s not the right time for a conversation. First, you need to calm down so that you can strategize instead of shooting from the hip.
  4. Manage your narrative. We human beings are meaning-making machines. Someone says something we perceive as threatening and our stress response heightens. We think things like, ‘They’re out to get me,” and “I must have done something wrong.” The problem isn’t that we’re making up meanings, the problem is believing everything we think. If what you’re thinking doesn’t bring you peace, you must challenge your thoughts.
  5. Stay connected with others. If you’re feeling disconnected, reach out and let someone know you’re thinking about them. If a disagreement left your last conversation a bit strained, reconnect by a quick check in that goes something like this, “Hey I just wanted to check in. I felt that we rushed through our conversation yesterday. Are we OK?” Even a simple, “I appreciate you,” goes a long way in restoring connection.
  6. Leverage yourself. If you’re burning the candle at both ends, ask yourself why. Maybe it’s time to leverage yourself by hiring someone to do the things that create stress for you. If you’re caring for young children or an elderly parent, having someone to do your grocery shopping, cooking or housecleaning can be the difference in chronic stress and well-being. Stop thinking in terms of money and think in terms of value. The value is in improving your health and well-being so you can relax and be present to what really matters at this stage of your life.

Marlene Chism is a Springfield-based consultant and author of “From Conflict to Courage: How to Stop Avoiding and Start Leading.” She can be reached at


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