Illustration by Rachel Orr

10 things you can do to take care of yourself before work

Pay Up
Pay Up
Dec 9, 2016 · 3 min read

by Alex Laughlin

Finding time to devote to the things that keep you sane, as it turns out, isn’t a guilty pleasure — for many, it’s become a vital way to deal with the stresses of daily life. Maybe it’s proactive, like taking vitamins to stave off illness.

This practice looks different for everyone. Maybe you go for a quick run around the neighborhood. Maybe you make time for a slow cup of coffee. Maybe you write in a journal.The options are endless.

As part of our Medium series on self-care, we asked members of PayUp, our community dedicated to discussing gender disparity in the workplace, to share what they’ve build into their morning routines that helps center their minds and bodies for the day. “Any self-care you can do before work is great,” one member said. “It sets the tone for the day.”

Here are some of the things they’ve found helpful. Share your own in the comments!


Put on some good music

“I have a playlist on Spotify with uplifting/encouraging songs. I hear it whenever I am feeling down, including mornings when I am not feeling that great to go to work. It really works for me. I arrive at the office full of energy.” — Ligia Aguilhar

Have a morning ritual

“I drink coffee and read the Internet. I know it sounds super lame, but getting up in the morning and having me-time while still expanding my brain is a way that helps me not procrastinate during the day. It’s like, I already did stuff I want to do that the stuff I “have” to do doesn’t seem so bad. Plus, coffee is joy in a cup for me.” — Tricia Cervenan

Get enough sleep

“This might sound simple but I just go to bed early — it makes waking up super easy! Luckily, I’m bit of a homebody, so I’m not sacrificing too many crazy nights with a 9:30 bedtime.” — Lane Harbin

Start your day prepared

“Not quite morning, but I try to pick out my outfit the night before. That way I can get dressed knowing that I love my outfit and that it looks good, instead of feeling rushed and throwing something together. This makes me less likely to mentally pick apart how I look throughout the day so that I can focus on what I need to be doing and generally feel less negative overall.” — Natasha Clark

Stick to a routine

“I like to have a consistent morning routine — I always drink a huge jug of water, then have breakfast and coffee while listening to NPR.”

Eat breakfast

“Something with protein, fiber and fat to keep you full until lunch. Scrambled eggs are quick and easy. Same with some whole grain toast or piece of fruit.”

Stay unplugged while you can

“Don’t check your email (or Slack messages, or text messages for that matter) if you don’t have to! It’ll set your day up for being reactive and feeling constantly behind.”

Get your body moving

“Yoga or some other form of exercise is great! Even if it’s just going for a walk or stretching for a few minutes.”

Bonus: Research has shown that exercise may help alleviate depression and anxiety.

Here two other things that have some science behind them:

Express gratitude

In a 2003 study, two “gratitude experts” found that those who took time each day to be thankful for something were happier and healthier.

Take a quiet moment

A Harvard neuroscientist found that long-term meditation can actually change the makeup of your brain

What do you do in the mornings to set yourself up for a good day? We’d love to hear from you below in the comments.


Pay Up is a private, Slack-based community dedicated to fostering conversations about the gender wage gap. It was formerly managed by the Washington Post.

The Washington Post

News and analysis from around the world. Founded in 1877.

Pay Up

Written by

Pay Up

Pay Up is a private, Slack-based community dedicated to fostering conversations about the gender wage gap. It was formerly managed by the Washington Post.

The Washington Post

News and analysis from around the world. Founded in 1877.

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