Photo of Karen Doerr, SPHR

What does self-care have to do with diversity and inclusion? Part of practicing inclusion is taking the time to take care of you. We can’t be our better selves or be fully present if we ignore our own needs and limitations. These restrictions impact not just us, but also the quality of our relationships and interactions with others; and thus, our capacity to foster an inclusive experience in the workplace.

Given that this is an important but often overlooked topic, I’ll be exploring the concept of self-care, and its impacts on self, others and our places of work. For the moment, I’d like to share with you my first insight…

Just breathe.

Many of us feel like we are living in a constant state of VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. These concepts can bring about an increased heart rate, shallow breathing and a tensing of the neck and back—and with good reason. Now more than ever, we are navigating market and business instability, polarizing news and social media, increased demands at work and sometimes, increased responsibilities at home. Our list of to-dos starts to feel more aspirational than attainable. Our breathing becomes shallow and at times, we even feel like we are gasping for air.

But let’s stop there. This blog is a reminder to take care of you. How’s that going? Take a moment to stop…and breathe.

I love that when I hear or see the word breathe, I can’t help but to stop everything and breathe. We are not talking about just any sort of breath either—I stop and go for a belly breath, in conjunction with a nasal breath. The kind where you can feel your back expand with your intake of air; where the air simultaneously feels like it’s traveling upward into your sinus cavities.

A thoughtful breath doesn’t just feel good, it replenishes the body and its various systems with oxygen. That oxygen in turn lowers our blood pressure and heart rate, fuels our cells and allows us to be more fully present and feel less anxious.

But we can only reap these benefits through daily practice. When something is new and not part of our current mindset or day-to-day routine, we need to consciously practice it. That often means putting reminders in our calendar, placing a sticky note by our computer screen and maybe even downloading an app.

There’s so much more for us to explore in the realm of self-care. But in this fleeting moment, I invite you to remember this:

A few focused breaths take mere seconds, you can do it anywhere, it’s good for you and it’s free. So…breathe.