"Tranquilista": 10 Ways to Give Back to Yourself During a Workday

An excerpt from Kimberly Wilson's "Tranquilista: Mastering the Art of Enlightened Work and Mindful Play"

1.  Practice office yoga

Taking a moment to open up your body after continuous work at your desk is critical self-care. Here are a few of my favorite stretches to keep my mind and body supple:

  • Take ten deep, slow breaths.
  • Lower your neck to the right, drop your chin to your chest, and your left ear to your left shoulder. Repeat this U-shaped movement with your head at least five times.
  • Interlace your hands behind your back, lift your arms up, and sway from side to side.
  • Bring your left hand to your right knee and your right hand to the chair back for a seated twist. Gaze over your right shoulder, take five breaths here, return to center, and repeat on the other side.

2. Keep your energy flowing:

  • Sustain yourself. Ensure that your fridge is stocked with heaps of quick and easy, but healthy, food. I’m a fan of organic frozen foods, as I like instant gratification and have little patience.
  • Stretch yourself. Get up regularly from your computer for a stretch break.
  • Schedule dates. This may seem obvious, but when your next free date is in three months (and it’s not because you’re rolling in social invites), it is time to reevaluate your usage of time.
  • Take play dates. Head to the hills to see fall foliage. Take a class on a topic you’ve always found fascinating. Go for an afternoon bike ride to clear your head.
  • Stay connected. Remember birthdays, send thank-yous, and give kudos.

I encourage you to go the extra mile to take care of yourself, your relationships, and your mind, which longs for stretches of play coupled with downtime.

3.  Take some time for yourself
Knowing when to stop has never been one of my strong suits. An ongoing goal of mine has been to have a day off and to keep my “Creative Fridays” sacred. I stress my use of the word ongoing. After a decade of running at this pace, I have come up with a few parameters to help keep me, and my energy, in check. Facing burnout or exhaustion is not pretty — for you, your clients, your team, or those poor souls who are inhabiting your space. Treat yourself as you would a beloved member of your team — give yourself rewards, time off, and kudos.
Just as you must replenish yourself so that your creativity will flow, you must also fill your entrepreneurial well. Here are my favorite ways to bask in being my own boss while rejuvenating and staying inspired:

  • Get a massage, wax, mani, pedi, or hair coloring.
  • Shop.
  • Go to a matinee.
  • Attend industry-related conferences.
  • Take a trip to NYC for some top-notch yoga or market research.
  • Head to a café to write.
  • Take personal development workshops.
  •  Read, read, and read some more.
  • Set boundaries on your accessibility.
  • Browse a bookstore while the rest of the city is at work.
  • Meet up with a friend for an art exhibit.
  • Take yoga, dance, French, or writing classes during the weekday.
  • Set a bed day.
  • Go on a retreat.
  • Take a midday run or walk to clear your head.

The great thing about doing all this on a weekday is that most of the population is at work, so you have appointments, grocery stores, art galleries, and dance classes to yourself. Honestly, this may be reason enough to become your own boss! But one challenge in working for yourself is that work stays on your mind 24/7. You can’t gleefully leave a desk of pending projects each night like you did when you were working for someone else. As an entrepreneur you take on a whole different (and heavy) burden.

4.  Be the brand
This heading sounds so corporate, but I mean this in a very all-encompassing lifestyle way. Ideally, whatever you do for a living is an integral part of your life and who you are. That means that you incorporate it into your thoughts, words, and actions. For example, if you run a consignment boutique, it would behoove you to wear clothing from the boutique and always look your best. If you are on the board of a green nonprofit, it is important that you incorporate greening practices into your everyday actions. If you own a stationery store, it would benefit you to send the most luxe invites to your soirees on custom, recycled paper note cards printed with soy ink.

Let your lifestyle and business revolve around your values.Try not to separate them. Separating work and life is a foreign concept for entrepreneurs. If you make a living doing what you love, you will not have the separation that a typical nine-to-fiver may feel.

Make choices that align with the values you project in your business and vice versa. This will allow you to be the same person at home, at work, and on the go. We are not such compartmentalized beings that what is important to us in one area of our lives should be ignored in another area. Bring your passions to the forefront and let them infuse all your decisions and the way you present yourself to the world.

5.  Find your sanity
Don’t forget to take care of you. Starting a new project, job, or business is incredibly exciting, and the journey will fuel you in a way you may never have experienced before. You will literally eat, sleep, and breathe your enterprise, especially during start-up. Be sure to indulge in a sampling of the self-care suggestions outlined in this section to keep yourself in top-notch form. This will allow you to operate your business with oodles of energy, enthusiasm, and innovation — all critical for your on-going success with enlightened work.


About the Author
Kimberly WilsonKimberly Wilson is the author of Tranquilista and Hip Tranquil Chick. She is also the designer of eco-fashion line TranquiliT, and the founder of the Tranquil Space Foundation, which promotes yoga, creativity, and leadership in women and girls. She lives in Washington, DC. Visit her online at http://www.kimberlywilson.com. 

Excerpted with permission from the book Tranquilista: Mastering the Art of Enlightened Work and Mindful Play  ©2010 by Kimberly Wilson. Printed with permission from New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com.

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