Professionals who care for others in hospitals, senior living communities or other healthcare settings need to remember to take care of themselves too. This may seem obvious, but self-care is easy to forget and forgo, especially when you have a demanding and stressful job attending to other people’s needs and wants.
Most workers can handle a normal amount of everyday stress without any issues. However, without proper coping strategies and self-care, prolonged on-the-job stress can have serious psychological and physical consequences, leading to occupational burnout, depression and illness.
Self-Care Tips for A Healthy Work-Life Balance
Finding a healthy work-life balance supports your overall wellbeing and helps you be at your best in your professional life and personal life. Putting yourself first is not always easy, or even possible, but the alternative of placing yourself last can have some real negative consequences.
The following coping strategies may help you find that sweet spot where you can be good at what you do and good to yourself.
- Don’t Do It Alone – You don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders! Set reasonable goals and expectations for yourself, ask others for help whenever needed and remember that you are human and have your own needs.
- Make Time for Yourself – Each day plan a little “me time” to workout, binge watch a show, take a bath or do whatever it is that makes you happy and helps you unwind. Set a recurring calendar event on your phone to intentionally block out time for yourself.
- Be Social – Getting together with co-workers, friends and family will strengthen your personal connections, remind you that you are not alone and can help you feel more valued as an individual.
- Practice Healthy Habits – Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night or day, depending on your shift, and try and make healthy food choices to properly fuel your body for work and play. Make the time for yourself to prep healthy snack options during shift breaks. You deserve it!
- Head Outdoors – Fresh air and sunshine, even in small doses, can help clear your mind and improve your mood, so step outside during a work break, take a walk after work or plan an outdoor activity on your next day off.
- Meditate – Find a calm place to sit for a few minutes to focus on your breathing. Take deep, slow breaths and allow your thoughts to come and go while repeating a mantra that you choose for yourself silently in your head to feel centered and peaceful. Apps like Headspace, Calm and The Mindfulness App can help guide you through a meditation that's right for you.
- Take a Break – Schedule a vacation day in advance, so your team can plan coverage and you can plan the perfect holiday to relax and refresh. When planning ahead, you have something to look forward to rather than waiting to feel burned out.
- Be Patient…with Yourself and Others – When you are overwhelmed, focus on why you chose a job caring for others in the first place and how you are helping people in your role. Similarly, when things get harried, keep in mind that your co-workers are likely coping with similar stress and challenges of their own. Lean on each other and trade your favorite relaxation tips.
- Know Your Resources – Your HR and insurance provider can help you access mental health and wellness benefits and link you with a therapist to talk to, if needed. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach out and ask for help.