Practicing Self-Care as an Administrative Professional

January 11, 2023


If there’s one thing that’s true as an administrative professional, it’s that you’re often forced to wear many hats. Balancing multiple tasks at once, answering hundreds of emails, meeting critical deadlines, and assisting in major projects can become stressful and overwhelming. Without the proper self-care techniques in place, the demands of the job can often lead to burnout. 

Executive assistants and administrators are left with one vital solution: practicing self-care. This includes taking care of your needs, knowing your limits, and knowing when to slow down. Not only will this expand your career possibilities, but it will also lead to greater levels of life satisfaction.

This enlightening webinar reviewed some key self-care strategies for admins. Speakers Mary Ryan and Zach Tsuleff engaged viewers in a dynamic discussion about personal and professional wellness. Long-time and experienced administrative professionals, their guidance and expertise are necessary for all members of the ASAP community. 

In a time where self-care so easily takes the back-burner, be brave enough to say “yes” to yourself first. Let’s go over the chief elements that were discussed in this webinar. 

Defining Self-Care as an Admin

What does self-care look like as an administrative assistant? First off, it’s important to note that self-care is not a commonly talked-about aspect of the job. In most cases, administrative professionals follow this career path because there’s a shared desire to help others. And in many ways, there’s an unspoken expectation to take care of others without hesitation.

Mary stated that “we’ve ended up in these roles because we have a passion to support and assist.” While this is a beautiful purpose to have, it’s easy to forget your needs when swept up in your job’s duties. 

Mary and Zach further defined self-care. They expressed, “self-care does not have a Webster’s definition. It’s inherently making your health a priority to improve your own health.”

Moreover, self-care is about taking care of yourself with the intention of better-taking care of others. They remark, “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” It’s impossible to support other people if you are not supporting yourself. 

So, let’s break the myth that self-care is inherently selfish. This ideology Mary and Zack talk about informs the opposite. When you take care of yourself, your ability to care for others inevitably strengthens. This ripples into every facet of your life. Your job performance will improve, as well as your overall joy and personal fulfillment.

Knowing Your Value as an Individual and Administrative Professional

With this in mind, how do admins start to put self-care into action? And what does self-care look like in an administrative context? Soon, we’ll discuss tangible ways to practice and implement self-care. But there’s one important piece to the self-care puzzle that cannot be understated.

This essential element is knowing your value. It’s nearly impossible to embark on a self-care journey without knowing your worth, first and foremost. Mary and Zach expanded on this,

“Someone told me a long time ago that if someone has the inability to see your worth, it does not devalue you…So first, we have to start with valuing ourselves enough to care for ourselves.”

What does it mean to know your worth? 

It’s about knowing how much you contribute to the world with your gifts, talents, and unique skills. But, in many cases, admins may feel replaceable at their jobs. Though there is some thread of truth here, you are never replaceable in your daily life. The effort, time, and attention you place on yourself is ultimately worth it. And with a better understanding of your intrinsic worthiness, the better you will care for your well-being.

Putting Self-Care into Action

Here are some concrete ways administrative professionals can start prioritizing their self-care.

Set Boundaries: Know Your Limits

Boundaries are probably the most critical part of an effective self-care practice. However, many individuals struggle with setting and maintaining boundaries. This is especially true in an admin setting, where there may be a fear of letting down higher executives or your team.

Boundaries can be defined as the limits you place to protect your emotions, time, body, and mental wellness. Start implementing boundaries at work simply by drawing a line and knowing your limits. If you feel that you’ve reached your capacity, it is okay to say “no,” or even “not now.”

Some examples of healthy boundaries at work include,

“I cannot complete this task off-work hours, but I’d be happy to complete it tomorrow morning.”

“I am not available to discuss work-related items on my lunch break.”

“That meeting time doesn’t work for me, but I can reschedule for another time.”

Or, you can even turn your phone and email notifications off during your break or after work. Set boundaries with yourself, too. Make an agreement not to work outside your scheduled hours or when you’re unavailable. This is just as important as setting boundaries with others.

Establish Self-Care Goals

Zach and Mary shared that at the beginning of their self-care journeys, it was extremely challenging to know where to begin. This is why establishing realistic and attainable self-care goals can be helpful. 

“You’ve got to find things that are realistically attainable for you. If it's not attainable for you to go to the spa every weekend, don't.”

Ask yourself, what is a viable option for me when it comes to my self-care? Do I want to spend more time in nature? Do I want to make more time for exercise? Or, do I want to spend 10 minutes a day in meditation?

No matter what your self-care looks like, make sure it fills you up. Create self-care goals that feel reachable, doable, and exciting.

Take Breaks When You Need

Sometimes, we just need 5 minutes to breathe. Take frequent breaks throughout the day and practice doing so without guilt. Those minutes spent with yourself are valuable. You’ll feel more energized, rejuvenated, and more available at your job.

The speakers draw on an essential point:

“You would never apologize for drinking water. And now, you're not going to apologize for taking 5 minutes to yourself to walk away and get a drink.”

Block Out Time on Your Calendar

Finally, it’s no secret that your calendar is an indispensable resource in your day-to-day work life. Why not use it as a tool for self-care also? Block out time throughout the day to remind yourself to breathe, drink water, walk, and take time to replenish your energy. The time spent caring for yourself is just as valuable as the time spent in meetings, answering emails, or working on projects.

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American Society of Administrative Professionals

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