4 Ways Self-Care Improves Productivity

Posted by Deanna Singh | May 26, 2022 9:00:00 AM

If you’re like many Purposeful Hustlers I know, you tend to burn the candle at both ends. You juggle work responsibilities with family, volunteering, side hustles, hobbies, and community engagement. If you’re not keeping busy, you feel slightly guilty and immediately fill up any downtime you may have.

I definitely support ambition, but here’s the thing: engaging in constant busy work does not necessarily get you ahead. There’s truth in the phrase, “It’s better to work smarter than harder.” And to increase your output—to work smarter—you have to practice a little self-care.

Self-care doesn’t necessarily involve facemasks and massages (although it could!). At its core, self-care is about treating yourself with respect and taking steps to actively protect or improve your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

What does self-care have to do with productivity?


If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll end up feeling depleted. Your attention will waver, and you may become stressed or anxious. In this state, you cannot perform at your peak—not even close. Research shows that stress severely effects productivity by diminishing energy, reducing creativity, and making it harder to focus. Stress is also linked to physical ailments such as nausea, fatigue, muscle tension, or even cardiovascular disease, obesity, and other long-term effects.

Sadly, we sometimes treat our cars better than we do ourselves. We stop and fill the gas tank when needed, we care for the interior and exterior, and we occasionally take our vehicles to a mechanic for maintenance or repairs. How often do you stop and fill your personal tank? Do you recognize when something is “broken” and requires more time and attention (i.e., when you’ve hit a wall and are experiencing serious burnout or anxiety)?

It's time to normalize self-care in our professional environments and personal lives. When we dare to slow down, assess, and re-strategize, we are not only giving ourselves a gift, but we’re preparing ourselves to better serve others.

To start improving your self-care, I challenge you to try any of the following 4 practices:

1. Focus on Physical Health


Good physical health is the root of productivity. You can’t climb life’s daily mountains if you are neglecting to get enough sleep, eat well, or move your body. Sleep is one factor we especially neglect. The Sleep Foundation reports that Americans are “chronically underslept,” which leads to challenges in maintaining “focus, attention, and vigilance.”

Try starting a nightly wind-down routine. Turn off all screens an hour or two before heading to bed, listen to soothing music, or write in a gratitude journal.

Exercise and nutrition are just as important as sleep. According to Harvard Health, consistent exercise not only improves physical health, but improves memory and increases mental alertness.

2. Set Healthy Boundaries

Practicing good self-care means setting healthy boundaries. This could entail shutting off all email notifications after work hours, saying “no” to projects that fall outside your area of expertise, or having an honest conversation with your boss or co-workers when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of responsibilities.

In a past blog post, we discussed how to tactfully say no to unsuitable requests. Take a look!

3. Engage in Calming Practices

When life gets stressful, it’s a good idea to have a calming practice to fall back on. This could be meditation, stretching, prayer, journaling—whatever feels right to you. I recommend practicing your technique of choice regularly, preferably on a daily basis. For me, mornings are the best time to engage in mindful meditation/prayer. If you need help getting started, try downloading an app like Calm or Headspace.

4. Create Space


At times, self-care means physically removing yourself from a stressful environment, or simply creating space for yourself to think or reflect. Go for a walk, step away from your desk, hit the gym, or find a quiet space to read/reflect/enjoy a cup of coffee. Sitting quietly and allowing your mind to wander can help with problem-solving or aid in creativity, BUT you have to give yourself the space and permission to do so! It may feel strange to allow yourself this type of freedom in the middle of the work day, but it can do wonders for your productivity.


Self-care is directly linked to productivity and output. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we’ll be in no position to do our best work, support or care for others, or tackle life’s daily challenges. Self-care is highly personalized and certain techniques will resonate with you more than others. The important thing is to try. Take time to engage in some self-care over the next few weeks and find out what works for you. Your productivity depends on it.

Topics: Self-Care, personal development, Hustle, productivity

Written by Deanna Singh

Deanna Singh is a business consultant, speaker, and podcaster who is internationally recognized for her work in leadership, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Deanna helps her clients create more equitable and inclusive work environments and engage more authentically within their internal and external communities. A gifted communicator, she is a champion for marginalized communities through her work. Her podcast, Uplifting Impact with a focus on looking at the intersection of Leadership and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, focuses on solutions and is directed at people who want to break the status quo. Singh earned her Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Fordham University, a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University, a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and certification in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Cornell University.

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