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What are ways to manage work life balance as a social worker?

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Nija’s Answer

Hi Zephaniah,

I am glad that you are asking this question because it is very important. In my profession, I am a social worker helping individuals to address their emotional difficulties on a day to day basis. Although, being a social worker can be very rewarding but at the same time it can be draining, which can lead to burnt out. It is so vital to allow yourself to leave the work at the job when it is time to go home and focus more on yourself. I tend to promote the importance of selfcare because it helps develop the mindset to put your physical and emotional well being as a priority. Selfcare is a part of eating healthy, getting enough sleep; taking a mental health day; excercising; going for a walk to ease your mind; and meditating. Exploring your desired activities and strengths is

a way of relieving stress. For example, getting a massage; taking a bubble bath; spending time with family & friends; riding a bike and engaging in fun activities that you like to do will decrease tension. It is nothing wrong with pampering yourself and being selfish with yourself on a daily basis. Remember to laugh at the funniest moments and not take client situations personal becuse it has nothing to do with you. Come up with positive affirmations and do deep breathing (mindfulness techniques) to help you deal with stress and anixety. I truly believe that practicing selfcare gives you the ability to enhance your self-esteem, be productive and live a fulfilling life. You deserve to make sure that you are in a happy space; slow down to self-reflect and think about how you can create a positive environment for yourself. Only you can create positivity around yourself because no one will do it for you. Most important, seeking therapy is helpful because you need someone that is non-judgmental to be a sounding board for you. If you are a spiritual person, you can consider utilizing prayer in your daily routine. Be you; stay calm; be human and enjoy life.

I hope this will help you! Take care!

Nija recommends the following next steps:

You can do a google search and type ways to practice self care. It will have you even more ideas of different ways to pamper yourself and develop selfcare in your daily routine.

First, thank you for such a fast response. Prayer definitely is a must and adding exercise may be the most difficult it has helped me blow off steam in the past so that makes sense. Thank you so much Ms. Jackson and Ms. Igleheart! Zephaniah W.

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Kim’s Answer

Nija's answer is awesome! I would add to it that physical exercise is a good way to work off frustrations you might feel. I was never a runner, but I did like going to the gym, and really liked that it had a punching bag! You will need to be careful if you live with other people. The inevitable, "how was your day?" question can find you reliving everything when, like Nija said, you need to put it aside upon leaving for the day. Don't get drawn in by that question. Maybe even ask them to not ask it of you! 

I developed a certain realization somewhere along the way in my career. Every day you go to work, you will meet a nice person. You will also meet a jerk. It is the one you choose to "keep" with you that makes all the difference in the world!

Thank you for caring about people and wanting to try to make a difference in their lives!

(oh, and yes, definitely to the therapist!)

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cassandra’s Answer

Hello Zephaniah W.
Thank you for your question and for what you do in your line of work.
Many people struggle with finding a good work-life balance.
The first thing I like to do is assess your current work habits:
How many hours do you usually work?
How many days per week do you stay late at the office?
Are you required to be on-call during evenings and weekends?
Do you feel obligated to answer your cellphone or email after-hours even if not required to?
Do you regularly take time off?
Do you resent your job/boss/clients?
Do you miss out on social or family events due to work obligations?
Do you need to prove yourself at work?

Now that you’ve assessed your work habits, how do you think you’re doing with finding work-life balance?

We all need to create boundaries between our work and personal life. These boundaries actually help us do our jobs better. When we come to work refreshed and happy, we will do our best work. Over-working will lead to burnout and poor mental health. Personal relationships will suffer if you don’t nurture them. And your health may suffer from ailments such as headaches, backaches, insomnia, stomachaches due to stress and overworking.

cassandra recommends the following next steps:

Clearly defining when you are working and when you are “off”
Not being tied to your phone or computer at all times
Having time to yourself after you leave the office
Not feeling guilty about asking for time off
Not cancelling your weekend or dinner plans (except on rare occasion) because of an emergency at work

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Simeon’s Answer

One of the more important boundaries that social workers need to set is emotional. It can be easy to take full responsibility for the lives of others, but its important to remember that you can only do so much. It's important to leave your concerns at work so you don't develop what they call "compassion fatigue".