I’ve been in several different job positions within the social services field for over 15 years. Each of these job positions required a lot from me. The days were exceptionally long. The work was hard and challenging. It was not long into my career that I started to feel drained and overwhelmed. The thing about social services, is you can give it your all day in and day out, and still fall behind on your work and/or have enormous stress levels due to the workload. I had to find a solution before burning out.
The solution to the demanding work came with a shift in my mindset. I shifted my mindset from self-care being optional to it being required. I quickly learned regular self-care was required for me to remain in the field and to continue making progress on my career goals. No matter what you do, you need to implement self-care into your life and busy schedule. Here are a few suggestions to schedule self-care into your life:
Make Yourself a Priority
You are valuable. You have to make yourself a priority by making self-care a non-negotiable activity you do on a regular basis. When you make self-care a priority, you will be in a position both physically and mentally to best influence and help those around you. You won’t be able to be as productive or impactful to the people you serve unless you take care of yourself. Do yourself and others a favor and make your self-care a priority.
I have a personally type of being able to continue working with very few breaks in a day. I can overwork myself until the end of the day. Even when my body was telling me to take a break, I’d continue pushing forward on the work I needed to get done. I rarely take my shorter breaks and typically would take short lunch breaks.
This all changed a few years ago. After reading several books and articles on the importance of taking breaks throughout your day I started to force myself to take my breaks. I began to see a positive difference in my day when I took breaks. The breaks allowed me to step away from my work to clear my mind and to take care of myself. I typically went on walks on my shorter breaks (while listening to an audiobook or music) and often ate a healthy lunch and tried to take a short nap when I could during my lunch break. These breaks allowed me to reenergize and come back ready to productively accomplish the work I needed to do. Make sure you are taking advantage of your breaks.
Enjoy your Days Off
Days off are meant to be longer periods of time when you relax and rejuvenate. Most people have at least 1 day off a week (but typically 1-3 days off in a week). On our days off we should be doing the things we enjoy doing and that brings well-being into our life. Days off each week help you to take care of yourself.
One of the best ways to enjoy a day off is with a hobby. We all should have a hobby we enjoy and like to do each week or at least several times a month. When you have a hobby, it can be easier to take days off because you will want to participate in it.
You might be thinking, it would be nice to have time on my day off to participate in a hobby or to take time to relax because household chores and errands are taking up a lot of the non-working time. Often, these activities can cause us to work on our days off which prevents us from having enough time to relax and have fun during the weekend. One way to avoid this is to hire outside help with house chores and non-essential errands. Consider hiring outside help so you can maximize your time off for yourself.
Plan for Longer Periods of Time off
Alongside taking time off each week, we should plan larger amounts of time off annually. Yes, planning and taking vacation time is crucial when it comes to self-care. For best self-care results, I suggest taking a minimum of a whole week (7 days) off. It can take a couple days of vacation to get you out of your work routine and mindset. Once you are out of it though, the pressure of work can be behind you (for the time) so you can obtain the most from your time off. The best way to implement this into your busy life is to pre-plan trips a year ahead (paying for it in advance) so you take the vacation when the time comes.
Question: How do you schedule self-care into your life?
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