How to Practice Self-Care at Work

The terms “self-care” and “workday” seem to be at odds, but there are actually a number of things you can do at the office to contribute to an overall happier, healthier life. Here, seven simple practices to try out during your nine-to-five. 

25 Totally Free Ways to Practice Self-Care

white bowl full of salad

Take an Actual Lunch Break
When was the last time you ate lunch at work not slouched over your desk, shoveling last night’s leftovers into your mouth? A lunch break is called a lunch break for a reason. We’re not suggesting leaving the office for a two-hour boozy feast, but we highly recommend getting away from your desk for at least 20 minutes and taking the time to actually enjoy your food and stretch your legs.

Don’t Say Yes to Everything
We’ll admit, this one can be tough, but at a certain point, saying yes to every spare project will mean taking on too much and your work (and your emotional state) will likely suffer. It also might have the inverse effect of what you’re going for, signaling to your manager that you don’t have enough on your plate (you do!). Instead, be upfront with your team and boss about your workload (you spend X amount of time on Y, etc.) so they know where to prioritize your time. Psst: Put together your “brag sheet” so you can list off your responsibilities with ease.

woman wearing headphones around her neck

Create an Uplifting Playlist
Obviously this only applies if you work in an industry (or office) where listening to music is kosher, but speaking from experience, the right playlist can totally turn around your day. You’d be surprised what a little Beyoncé can do after a bad meeting.

Ask for Help If You Need It
Just like you should feel comfortable saying no to taking on extra work, be OK with asking for help. Your coworkers would probably rather spend a couple extra minutes explaining something—or pitching in on a project—than having you turn something in that’s subpar—or worse, unusable.

pretty work desk with computer and flowers

Make Your Desk a Happier Space
It’s kind of sad, but true: We spend a hell of a lot of time at our desks. And since we can’t see ourselves reaching early retirement anytime soon, we might as well make the most of the time we spend in our office. Whether that means bringing in a few pictures that make you smile, or buying a few fresh flowers each week, there are lots of little aesthetic changes you can make to your workspace that will improve your overall mood.

Compliment Yourself
Whether you just nailed a huge presentation in front of 20 clients or your boss had no changes on a proposal you submitted, take just a few seconds to pat yourself on the back for a job well done (and write it down on that brag sheet!). Feeling good about yourself is an important part of self-care, and all it takes sometimes is taking a step back from the day-to-day grind to remind yourself what a badass you are.

woman filling up water at a sink

Get Up and Move
Last, but certainly not least, don’t don’t don’t sit at your desk all day. We won’t go so far as to say that sitting is the new smoking, but spending eight-plus hours a day in the same position is unhealthy mentally and physically. You don’t even have to hit the gym during lunch, just make sure to get up multiple times throughout the day for a brief reprieve—even if that just means going to the bathroom and taking the long route to the kitchen to refill your water bottle.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...