When we think about searching for a job, we think about productivity, perseverance, and just basically really hard and focused work. You have to talk to professional references, edit your resume again and again, put in application after application, make follow-up calls. But what if I told you that there is something even more important than all that?
That's right, I'm talking about self-care. It's a word that gets thrown around a lot, but what do I mean when I talk about self-care? Before you can navigate the world of work, your basic needs must be meet first.
Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has identified and classified these needs into the 8 dimensions of wellness: Emotional, Environmental, Financial, Intellectual, Occupational, Physical, Social, and Spiritual. These needs are very important to reducing stress, increasing creativity, decreasing burnout, increasing happiness, positivity, and contentment/satisfaction, increasing focus, and creating and maintaining stronger/healthier social connections and interactions.
So what are these 8 wellness dimensions and how do you make sure that you're meeting them?
This is going to vary greatly on an individual basis since everyone has different areas of strength and weakness. For example someone may have their physical needs met without needing to change anything because they already rely on their bicycle to get around town, and they have a healthy diet and sleep routine but that same person may need to focus on improving their emotional and social needs as they are spending much of their time alone or with people who make them unhappy.
The key is to identify your own personal areas of strength and then focus on areas which can be improved the most.
If your emotional needs are met then you feel confident that you are able to use effective coping skills to handle the many challenges that life throws at you, you feel satisfied with the amount of time that you have for leisurely activities, and you are good at building and maintaining healthy relationships with those around you. If this is not the case, then this may be an area of wellness that you should focus on improving. Some examples of ways to improve emotional wellness include:
Focus on your sensory details, touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing. Just focus on the basic experience of the here and now: this dog feels soft and I like the way it feels to pet him, this candle smells nice and I enjoy this scent, this song makes me feel happy, this food tastes really yummy, I feel warm and safe when I hug you, I like the way this painting looks and I feel relaxed when I look at it.
Focus on the positive rather than the negative. Think about the things that you're grateful for and focus on the things that bring you joy rather than the things that make you feel negatively. For example, pretend it's a rainy day and you don't like rainy days but you enjoy pretty flowers. You could choose to focus on the negative 'I hate rainy days, this sucks' or you can choose to focus on the positive 'Well I don't like rainy days but at least the flowers are being watered and they will look amazing in a few days.'
Don't overschedule! That is, make sure that you leave yourself time to do the things that you enjoy whether that be sewing, singing, woodworking, writing, playing videogames or something else that you enjoy.
Discover coping techniques that work for you. There are millions of ways to cope with stress. If you aren't sure which techniques work for you then try out different things until you find something that works. Also keep in mind that coping techniques can change. Maybe coloring in a coloring book was something you used to cope with stress but now it's not working anymore, try occasionally switching it up.
Be honest and open with your feelings and be receptive and sensitive to others feelings as well.
If your environmental needs are being met then you are surrounded by a calming, clean, and green environment and you feel content in your home and community. If this is not the case then you may want to focus on this area of wellness. Some examples of ways to improve environmental wellness include:
Declutter your space. Pick up trash, recycle, donate unwanted items to a community organization such as Goodwill, organize your things in a way that works for you where you will be able to find what you need when you need it.
Sanitize your space. After decluttering comes the sanitization, wipe down counters, sweep, scrub out the toilet. Personally I enjoy lighting a nice smelling candle while I do this to improve emotional as well as environmental wellness.
Take a walk in nature. With so much going on in our lives sometimes it can be easy to forget the importance of our connection to nature. This is a need, not a want. If you find that you do not spend a lot of time outside, then plan a time for a gentle walk, hike or even take a few days off (if possible) to go camping in the wilderness.
Be an active member of your community. The best way to make sure that your community is meeting your environmental needs is to be an active participant in one way or another. Maybe volunteer for some community cleaning or weed pulling events, join a neighborhood watch or neighborhood garden, plant a tree, pick up trash you found while on your walk, vote in local elections, join an environmentally focused club or peer group.
Have designated spaces in your home or space for specific activities. For example, if you plan to work from home, then make sure you have a designated work space in your home.
If your intellectual needs are being met then you feel confident in your critical thinking skills, creativity, and concentration while actively seeking out ways to learn and improve. If this is not the case then you may want to focus on this area of wellness. Some examples of ways to improve intellectual wellness include:
Try new things. A big way to improve intellectual wellness is to learn new things, whether that means picking up a new hobby, trying a new food and writing about the way it tastes, or watching YouTube videos on a new topic that you don't know much about.
Participate in activities that will expand your knowledge and challenge your critical thinking- tasks such as reading, chess or Crossword/Sudoku puzzles.
Take a class, attend a workshop or a lecture.
If your physical needs are being met then you are in good health, and participate in a well balanced diet, and daily exercise. On most days you get an adequate amount of sleep and wake up feeling well rested. If this is not the case then you may want to focus on this area of wellness. Some examples of ways to improve physical wellness include:
Meet regularly with your healthcare professionals. Make annual wellness appointments and additional appointments as needed with your primary care doctor, dentist and any other health professionals you may have (this will vary from person to person and may include an optometrist, counselor, psychiatrist, orthodontist, OB/GYN, dermatologist, etc...
Avoid drugs, smoking, and limit alcohol consumption or eliminate completely if possible.
Take any medications you need regularly and as prescribed by your doctor.
Exercise. This is a big one! Work out every single day even if you can only do so for a short amount of time. Physical activity, along with improving mood, increases memory, focus and cognitive function which also lowers the risk of developing cognitive impairments as we age, such as dementia.
Sleep! Make sure that you are getting a good amount of sleep. This varies from person to person but the general rule of thumb is 7 to 9 hours.
Stay hydrated. Make sure to drink enough water throughout the day.
Maintain proper hygiene. Shower, brush your teeth and hair, and change your clothes daily.
Social: If your social needs are being met then you have a well-developed support system, a sense of belonging and excellent communication skills. If this is not the case then you may want to focus on this area of wellness. Some examples of ways to improve social wellness include:
Schedule social events. Go to a movie with friends or to a concert with your brother, make time for the special people in your life.
Connect with loved ones who live far away. Send an email or give someone a call whom you haven't talked with for awhile.
Volunteer somewhere or join a club.
Be genuine, respectful, and authentic, while conversating with others.
Spiritual: If your spiritual needs are being met then you have a clear sense of your personal values, have a strong feeling of self-confidence (confidence not arrogance), and you have a feeling of inner peace. If this is not the case then you may want to focus on this area of wellness. Some examples of ways to improve spiritual wellness include:
Practicing in your religious/spiritual belief activities. This can include going to church, praying to your higher power, yoga and meditation, etc...
Be altruistic. Think about what you can do to help others. Donate old clothes, food, blood, money, or other things to those in need. Volunteer some of your free time at a community organization.
Engage in personal reflection. Spend time thinking about what you feel gives your life meaning. What are the core values in which you try to follow. Journaling can help if you aren't sure where to start.
Financial: If your financial needs are being met then you feel satisfied with your current financial situation. If this is not the case then you may want to focus on this area of wellness. Some examples of ways to improve financial wellness include:
Create a budget that works for you.
Open up a savings account, even if you can only put away a small amount at a time.
Avoid making too many unnecessary purchases.
Buy items when they go on sale or purchase them from secondhand stores.
Choose to eat at home rather than going out to eat.
Clean out and organize your fridge so that you can see which items will go bad first and reduce waste.
Join free rewards programs of companies that you frequently visit (when applicable) to earn points towards free or reduced priced items.
Refinance where possible. For example, if you feel that your car payment is unmanageable, see if refinancing is a possibility.
Utilize community resources such as the library to check out books and DVD's rather than purchasing them.
Try a free budgeting/financial management application on your computer or phone such as Mint.
Occupational: If your occupational needs are being met then you have a strong work ethic and are satisfied with your current choice of work. If this is not the case then you may want to focus on this area of wellness. Some examples of ways to improve occupational wellness include:
Take a class, learn a new trade, or go back to school.
Learn healthy coping techniques for dealing with workplace stressors.
Find work somewhere that aligns with your core beliefs and values.
Work on updating your resume.
Get help if you need it!
At DKA, we specialize in helping people meet all of these goals in order to become employed and successful in their career. Call us today at (520) 790-7677 for more information or browse through our website (www.dkajobs.com)
Disclaimer: This guide is not a substitute for professional advice. Consult a professional for specific advice about your situation.