Paige​​​​ Wanckel’s Self-Care Routine: “I respond very well to routine.”

In this interview, Paige Wanckel, an Australian native who has made a name for herself in New York’s dynamic landscape of luxury retail and financial services, shares her practical and straightforward approach to self-care. 

Having mastered the art of balancing a high-powered career with personal well-being, Paige discusses how simple routines, from regular exercise to mindful work habits, play a crucial role in her life. 

What does self-care mean to you?

My definition of self-care is making and holding space that is exclusively for me. This time is dedicated to serving me first, and serving me the most. This is an effective way to feel well, rested, and confident. Dedication to this type of self-care also vastly benefits others in my life as well as my work. It’s giving the world the best of me, not what is left of me. 

How do you know when you’re feeling stressed or burnt out?

When I’m rushing in my mind, half-doing things, and feeling an urge to recluse. As a generally excitable person, when I am dragging myself around it is a hint that I need a rest. 

Do you have a regular self-care routine? If so, what does it look like?

Yes. I am based in New York City, where self-care is an entire industry that comes with a million bells and whistles. I have tried many, and in my experience it made the practice redundant. Self-care to me is most effective when it is not over complicated. 

Movement: Exercise (which used to be motivated by vanity) is now motivated by the effect it has on my focus, health clarity and mood. My commitment to myself is 2x HIIT / strength classes per week, which I attend every Monday and Wednesday morning. Keeping this promise to myself grows confidence (it is very easy to commit to something 2x per week, and often exceed it). 

If I am in the office, I may opt to walk home and take my calls along the way. If I am working from home, I will dedicate time to go for a 20-25 minute run. This is manageable between meetings or when I’m hit with the 4pm slump. I leave my front door with my phone timer for 10 minutes, and when I hear the chime I turn around and head home. This is good for health, and also gives your mind a treat. The shorter time commitment is intentional, keeping the time to ~20 minutes reduces the “too hard basket” trap.

Working from home: During COVID19, there were days I would roll out of bed and work in my pyjamas (which did not lead to feeling my best). With hybrid working here to stay, I practise self-care through rituals. Every day I make my bed, shower, do my hair, light makeup and get fully dressed as if I am meeting with colleagues or clients. When work is finished, I bookmark my day to close it out – meaning, at the end of the day I “sleep” my computer, and go out for a walk to decompress and turn off work mode. I enjoy catching the evening sun, fresh air, and using this time to call family, listen to a podcast, or enjoy the quiet.

Time: Working for a global company, there are days when meetings start from 3am and other days where meetings go past 9pm. Regardless of the company, I honour my value and communicate my intention to rest. I will start the next day at a later time, or end my day earlier. I will take a day in lieu if my overtime has been significant. By doing this, my productivity remains strong, I stay healthy, and credibility builds through being honest.

Social: Fellow extroverts will understand that getting energy and joy from others can be a slippery slope to burnout and over-commitment. I exercise self-care in this area by being protective of my time and the degree in which I interact. I will drink soda water at an event instead of wine. I will suggest a coffee or a walk if I know I can’t fully show up for a meal – or, I will politely decline. People will not disappear when you do this (in fact the contrary), and you have shown yourself respect.

What bumps you off your self-care routine and how do you get back on course? 

What is a polite way to say “f*ck it” mentality? When you slip once or twice, then think – f*ck it! For me, this can occur when my hours get blown out, I’ve neglected my health, or have reached for foods that only make me feel worse. Sometimes I will change the language I use with myself – have whatever you want, as long as it’s a gift to yourself. Other times, I show myself grace – we’re humans not robots, it’s ok to get bumped off course. 

What gets me back on course is muscle memory. My muscle memory was built through having a routine. Over the years I have learnt that as long as it’s not restrictive, I respond very well to routine. Simple, and easy-to-incorporate actions achieves this (Mon & Wed gym class, making my bed, walking after work etc). Muscle memory is always what brings me back on track, after I’ve fallen off.

Where do you go for inspiration, ideas or tools for self-care?

Exploration mostly. This often presents through talking with others. Hearing about a class someone has tried, a friend’s unusual experience, an insight learnt from therapy, something that happened at work. Some of the best experiences I’ve had have come from trying something unfamiliar to me. Even if it doesn’t resonate, being curious and willing to try something for the first time has paid off in dividends. *Bonus points, it also develops confidence. 

What do you think you need to improve in terms of your self-care practice?

I would like to enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing (“Dolce far Niente”). Intentionally having nothing scheduled, resisting the urge to do a chore or start a task. There is value in this, it lends to function, vitality, contentment and creativity. Rest shouldn’t be productive, its rest! 

I expect self-care for me will continue to change over time. If it doesn’t it probably means I’m not listening to myself.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.