Self-Care to Prevent ‘Work Stress’

Are you the kind of person who finds it hard to separate ‘work’ from ‘home’? People often ask me how I keep my own mental health in check after working a long day at a mental health hospital. Everyone has bad days, including me and your therapist. So if you work in the mental health field – how do you ‘keep it together’ and get the job done? For me, it’s keeping my passion in mind, which is mental health and helping people who are suffering. By being vulnerable and reminding patients that you are human too, it allows you to build a better rapport with them as well! So if I’m having a rough day and it’s hard to fake it, I often tell them just that! Of course I don’t go into details and I keep it professional, but all you have to do is remind them that everyone has gloomy days – and be a role model for them! Push through and tell them exactly how you are going to do overcome your day.

Work stress occurs in almost every job – not just mental health of course! All too often it’s easy to take stress from work home with us, hurting relationships and bringing negativity into your home. It’s important for all of us to remember and be mindful of keeping work at work and enjoy home life when you leave. Easier said than done though, right? Some ways to practice being more mindful of this include: Man covered in yellow notes

  • When you have a day or a weekend off, use the time to do things you enjoy – or just veg out!
  • Get enough sleep at night to ensure you have enough energy going into the next work day.
  • Keep a good social support system – if you  have a stressful day at work, talk about it appropriately with people you love at home – do not just angrily dump your feelings like you’re yelling at them.
  • Take enough time off and use vacation days wisely – get a massage, go to the spa, go to the beach or near water, go to your cottage or cabin, go fishing, ride your bike, etc.
  • Keep a positive attitude! – show gratitude that you have a job and no matter how stressful it is, remind yourself that you are appreciative.
  • Process your emotions more effectively by journaling or writing them down – this will keep your thoughts from boiling over and prevent lashing out at a boss at work or partner/children at home.
  • Learn that saying “no” to some things at work is OK and that you won’t be looked down upon for saying when you can’t handle everything thrown at you.

Compassion Fatigue = Compassion fatigue is perhaps the most general term and describes “the overall experience of emotional and physical fatigue that social service professionals experience due to chronic use of empathy when treating patients who are suffering in some way”

– resource: Social Work Career Magazine

JournalSpring2015_AddressingSecondaryTraumaandCompassionFatigue_Figure1If you work in a  health career, or any other career that is dependent on listening to others’ feelings/needs/concerns, it’s especially important to make time to practice self-care to prevent compassion fatigue (above). I definitely have days where I experience this. I come home from work some days and am exhausted, reflecting back on the horrific experience a patient told me he or she had been through or that they are feeling like they want to hurt themselves. Of course I am compassionate toward their feelings and listen, however it is normal for it to be emotionally and physically draining to listen to day in and day out. That’s why it’s so important to follow the tips above to avoid complete burnout at your job. The one’s I am going to be more mindful about are journaling to fully process my day and keeping a positive attitude to avoid burnout! Which ones do you think will work best for you? Happy Monday everyone, and I hope you all have a productive and positive work week, no matter what profession you are in.

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