Carnegie Mellon University

Self Care

By Ashley Cross

Surprising Ways You Can Help Your Career (Through Self-Care)

We are feeling it: being burned out and ready to be done with this pandemic after an intense and crazy year. We’ve been waiting for things to get better - vaccines, stimulus checks, returning to the office, kids returning to schools, being able to visit friends/family and dine at an actual restaurant again… I know I’m not the only one tired from all this waiting. But what can you do?

It’s times like these where we need to focus on the present, rather than the end goal, to maintain our sanity. Let’s get back to the basics and address our physical, psychological and social needs.

Start with sleep, food, and hydration. If you are not paying attention here, you may likely feel exhausted before the day begins. It can be a lot to tackle at first, so start in one of these areas and continue building over time.

  • Take a look at your evening routine to improve your sleep.
  • Set a timer to stop you 5 minutes before a meeting, so you can grab a snack and some water.
  • Track the food that’s going into your body, so you can correlate your intake with your energy levels.

Look at your routines and your surroundings.
Your brain is like a computer. If you have too many tabs open at once, you are going to inevitably slow down.
  • Add something to your schedule each day that you can genuinely look forward to (i.e. jounaling, yoga, listening to music during your commute).
  • Step away from your laptop to enjoy your cup of coffee, rather than gulping it down at your desk.
  • Clean your office area to reset at the end of each day, so it’s one less thing to worry about the following morning.

Reflect on your finances and your career.
Many people were surprised with furloughs when the pandemic started. How can you be prepared if things turn for the worse at your company?
  • Build up your emergency savings.
  • Dust off your resume and update it with your recent accomplishments.
  • Casually look at the jobs that are being posted: what skills are in demand and how can you start learning them? Who knows? You may come across your dream job while scrolling through the job boards. 

Prioritize time for authentic connection.
Work will take over our lives if we let it. I know I’ve been guilty of focusing so much on my job to the exclusion of my social life and responsibilities at home. That’s why it’s so important to carve out that time and make it part of your schedule.
  • Set aside time each day to spend with your family or your pets at home.
  • Talk with a friend once a week.
  • If you are close to your co-workers, send them a funny meme here or there to break the monotony of the work day.
  • During these interactions, be as mindful and present as you can, even if you can’t give 100% of your energy.

What this boils down to? Solely focusing on the future robs us of the opportunities to be in the present: to focus on what we currently have and what we can do with it, right now. We must cultivate our own meaning, day in and day out, to make sense of all this waiting. We must also recognize the value of resting, recalibrating, and reconnecting, outside of work, if we are to progress in our careers.