Wellness & the “9 to 5”: 6 Tips to Help You Guide Your Wellness Process Terri April 12, 2015 3 Comments Today’s post is a guest post by Tiana Brawley, a College Access Counselor and Blogger in Brooklyn, NY. Please welcome Tiana to our community and comment below to support her post, Wellness & the “9 to 5”: 6 Tips to Help You Guide Your Wellness Process. If you’re like me, you are working a “9 to 5”, or better yet, an “8 to 6”. The income is okay. The workday is extremely busy- flying by, its lunchtime before you know it, and at the end of the day, all you’re thinking about is…the bed. Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the current position I am in- I am a college advisor for high school students. High school students are truly a joy to work with, and I am grateful for the relationship building aspect in counseling. But after work, I am left with a feeling that something is missing. No, it’s not that I’ve skipped out on lunch like I’ve done before because my day was so packed. What’s missing is…the other part of my life. Sounds dramatic? Not really. In fact, you may be thinking the same thing if you work in a similar “9 to 5” workspace. I have taken on many “9 to 5” positions just to pay the bills- years of retail, internships, and even volunteer based work- however, none of these positions ever made me feel complete. When I found my current position, I thought, “This is IT!” I could be an advisor for the next four or five years. But for some reason, that has since changed. Sometimes while you are doing the work you are in, you envision yourself with different goals and aspirations. I am passionate about the very thing that leads to me to the issue with “9 to 5” jobs: balance and wellness. Ask yourself, what do these concepts mean to you? Do you feel as if you are practicing “a balanced life?” Are these terms just cliché? For me, balanced looks like having other things to do besides work – in particular, helping other people in developing their “self-care” process, finding their own balance, and seeking their purpose in life. Believe me, everyone needs work in the above areas. But why is it that in our “9 to 5’s” we feel so drained and uninspired to really take care of ourselves and pursue our other passions? Lets break it down: You May Be Drained & Uninspired if… Your 9 to 5 isn’t your passion. There is often the mindset that you are in that work space to make ends meet- often creating a stress-induced space which revolves around money (money = stress) After work, there seems to be little to no time to invest in your future or your passion: you skip out on events, social occasions, or things you would promise to do because of your work fatigue. You find yourself taking your work home…whether that’s physically or mentally. Have you ever had a task to complete and you snuggled in your bed, typing furiously to get it done? Do you think about your students, coworkers, or even supervisors, and just become mentally exhausted (this, too, is taking work home, folks). You enjoy your work, but you don’t know how to take yourself to “The next level.” You have a passion, but you don’t know how to translate that into an actual position or role. Basically, you are in a “transitional crossroads.” We may all identify with one or more of these points listed above. If this is you, you are not stuck- nor are you a “mess.” It may mean that you are thinking about the “next step,” and most of all, may need to practice some much needed self care (don’t we all?) For some of us, we may not have identified what that next step, passion or purpose is. Maybe the “9 to 5” is working for you! Whatever your situation is, here are some tips and tools that can help in guiding your wellness process. 6 Tips to Guide Your Wellness Process 1. First ask yourself… How do I define self-care? What do I NEED throughout my week to thrive and feel happy? For me, I need to feel like I’ve accomplished important goals, I’ve caught up with some friends through text or a phone call, I’ve reached out to someone positively, I rested well throughout the entire week, and I had reflection time. Brainstorm what it is that makes you feel complete through the week or what gives you a “boost” throughout the week. 2. Are there any organizations or groups that I could join that align closer to my passion/interests? This may sound simple, but getting involved in something provides a great balance to your regular “9 to 5.” While we often experience a routine in our workplace, other organizations or groups can provide spontaneity, opportunities to grow in your leadership or take on new leadership roles, and most of all, craft your talents or passions. Aside from that, organizations allow for you to build relationships, which are refreshing and can re-inspire you from day to day! 3. Take note of your accomplishments and goals daily and/or weekly. After each workday, I like to write down what I accomplished, whether it’s tangible or intangible. For example, I like to write down when a student tells me what college they’ve been accepted into, as well as major tasks that may have taken me a long time to complete. Writing down your accomplishments allows for you to reflect on your work, find meaning in your current position, and will also help you find meaning in your personal life. In addition, isn’t it a breathe of fresh air when you realize you have accomplished a goal or task, or you have made strides or progress in a certain area? If you need help shaping monthly and weekly goals, please reference the Mocha Girls goal mapping workbook here. 4. Evaluate whether there is room in your current position to incorporate your passion and interests. There is nothing like taking advantage of your current position to infuse your passions and talents! If there is room in your schedule to take on this task, go for it! There are a few things to keep in mind, however. If this talent or interest is adding to your workload, it may take some careful and strategic planning so that you are still able to perform your regular duties and tasks in addition to your new project. Also, it’s important to check in with your supervisor/manager to ensure that your project/interests aligns with your current role, and this endeavor will contribute to your role, not take away from it. Adding your interests into your current role can improve your job satisfaction, and possibly connect you with other people who share your same interests and passions! 5. Avoid bringing work home by creating separation from work and personal life. Lets face it, if you are working a 9 to 5, there are bound to be times when work will follow you home. I have been notorious for taking work home, and many times have been dubbed a “workaholic.” This past year, working from home really took a toll on my mental and even physical health. I was exhausted before bed, I was constantly thinking about work related tasks, and there was so much guilt associated with leaving many things to do at work. This is clearly not a healthy way to seek balance, so this year I decided I was going to be more proactive about my work/life balance. One way that I created this division was to have a “life book,” which consists of everything that has to do with my personal life and a “work book,” which is, obviously, everything that has to do with work. This may look different for everyone, but think of ways in which you can separate your work and personal life. (More on how to design a “life book” for yourself, see Projects section of my blog. Link in my bio below.) 6. Keep a gratitude/thankfulness journal. The “9 to 5” can make it very difficult to find your personal balance. Maybe, there were times when you felt like giving up in your work because it seemed to have lost its purpose. I suggest keeping a gratitude/thankful journal to maintain a sense of gratefulness for all the other aspects of your life that are going well and may be taking for granted. Family, great supportive friends, and just waking up to be alive are all things to be grateful for everyday. Even having a job with a steady income, no matter how stressful or demanding it may be, is something to be grateful for. Make it a habit to write down or keep a journal of the things you are grateful for when you find you are in a challenging position- you will be surprised at how looking back on this list can get you through a tough day and/or change your perspective! 3 Questions to ask yourself if you feel you need work/life separation: 1. Do you need to turn off your work email alerts on your phone at a certain time? Or completely uninstall your email from your phone? 2. Do you need to restructure your work time and/or create a schedule for yourself to manage your time? (i.e. create a physical block schedule of tasks to work on, requests for assistance in completing tasks, come in earlier one day a week to catch up) 3. Do you need an evening activity after work (such as the gym, going to the library, café, special event), which will fill the time you may work from home? It is important to block yourself from feeling like you have to work from home. The reality is, most of the time, we don’t have to work from home, and only feel the pressure to do so. Once I started creating strategic things to do list, starting with a goal I had for the day, I realized I was putting more pressure on myself to complete these tasks. Now, I end my workday with a “things to do” list for the next day, so that I reminded of any tasks that I left uncompleted, and then I shape a new goal for that day. There is always an opportunity to accomplish goals at work and to feel like you have had a successful work day-that ends when you leave the office! Let’s face it, everyone’s workspace looks different and we all have different responsibilities. The typical “9 to 5” does not allow the time for us to have self-reflection, a peaceful break, or even leave the office/building everyday. This is definitely my workday. And quite frankly, work, in itself, isn’t designed for you to have your “you” time, and maintain a healthy balance. Our workspace may not even support this idea. However, it is important that you get in tune with your self-care process and really listen to it. Even in your workplace, YOU come first! Tiana Brawley is a 25 year-old College Access Counselor working with high school youth in Brooklyn, New York. She is apart of a grassroots organization called “People Power Movement,” and co-chairs the “wellness collective” in that group. She has facilitated various professional development self care workshops with both youth and adults. Tiana is passionate about community building, youth leadership, and most of all, wellness! Visit her blog, soulfreewellness.wordpress.com for more in depth, tips, tools, wellness resources, projects and activities. Her blog is a guide and space for working class people to develop their best forms of positive and affirming living! @soulfree2015 Share Your Wisdom! Comment Below. What does self-care mean to you? Do you feel as if you are practicing “a balanced life?” Is work-life balance an attainable goal? Should it be?