Photo of Dr Anne Malatt by Alan Johnston for articles and audios on self-care

Self-care moments: Working

- Photography by Alan Johnston
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Hi this is Anne Malatt with self-care moments and this is a moment on working.

We spend around a third of our days and most of our waking hours working, getting ready for work and travelling to and from work … how do we feel about work and in what quality do we spend that time?

Do we go to work solely because we think we have to, to pay the bills and tick life’s boxes?

Do we find it enjoyable being at work, or do we spend our working days watching the clock until our break, until the end of the working day, until the end of the working week, and then seek relief from all that waiting for it to be over, when it is all over?

Or do we love what we do for all those working hours of our lives? Does work inspire us, energise us, and enrich our love of life?

We all need to work as work gives us purpose in life but what purpose do we bring to the work that we do?

Do we make work about ticking boxes, completing tasks, and getting the job done to get paid?

Or do we do the job well, but make our focus the quality that we bring to work, how we are at work and how we are with other people? For work is about people and providing them a service, first and foremost.

If we don’t yet feel that way about work, how can we care for ourselves so that we can come to love our work, no matter what we are doing?

I have found that my love for work has grown naturally as my love for myself has grown. I always enjoyed my work and prided myself on doing a good job, but I did not care for myself as well as I did for others and so I became stressed, exhausted and burnt out. And working in a way that lacked care for myself created a tension in my body which I needed to seek relief from, in the form of food and drink and other pursuits.

As my care for myself has deepened, I bring that deep care to everyone I work with. That care comes with a lightness of being and an ease, for it springs from the deep well of care I have for myself.

This is not something we are taught in our families and our education systems. The love of work starts with the joy of caring for ourselves. Learning as a young child how to feed and dress ourselves, make our bed and keep our room clean are simple, essential tasks that can be taught with a feeling of love and joy, or made to be a hard task, even a punishment at times.

If we grow up learning that work is hard, we may learn to work hard, but we will find it hard work, and we will need to seek relief, rewards, and treats, for all that hard work.

If we start from the premise that caring for ourselves is our first work, it is simple to learn to work in a way that is not hard at all, and feels lovely in the body, and then this quality becomes something that we can bring to the whole of our lives, including our work. It all starts with honouring our bodies.

Our bodies are the marker of whether something is true for us or not, and the more we care for and honour our bodies, the more we know what is true. When we work, where we work, how we work, how long we work for, can all be known in the body and if we honour the body we will develop a rhythm with our work that will sustain us through the working day and throughout our working lives.

3 COMMENTS

  1. What a great article on something we do most days and have been programmed with all sorts of images on how we do work, beautifully written and inspiring to go deeper into this thing we call work. Thank you Anne

  2. “The love of work starts with the joy of caring for ourselves.”

    I have also found this to be true. It’s a wonderful realisation and turns what work is thought to be on its head.

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