This is my latest installment of Employee Enhancement, published in our BCCS Staff Newsletter
Employee Enhancement – Improving the Lives of BCCS Employees, One Newsletter Column at a Time
Self – Care Strategies
This installment of Employee Enhancement will provide an overview of the importance of Self-Care and some strategies you can try. Often in the process of helping others, we may forget to take care of ourselves. It is a universal phenomenon in this helping profession. It is also one of the main reasons why there is such a high burnout and turnover rate throughout our field. Those helping professionals who know how to take care of themselves as they care for others are those who are happier and healthier in their professional lives.
This is often much easier said than done. We all are aware that we need to take breaks, enjoy hobbies, and get enough rest. Yet, think about it – how many times have you sacrificed some of these necessities in the name of getting your work done? We’ve all been there. And sometimes it’s incredibly important for you to work longer hours – especially if you are behind in your work, there is a customer crisis, or if there is a pending audit. These are the times where taking a break comes secondary. The key is to find the balance and be able to determine your own self-care needs, while maintaining your professional accountability.
Here is a way to help you find the balance: on a slower day, start building a routine of caring for yourself. Refer to the list of ideas below. Incorporate them into your daily routine so they become a habit. This will assist you when a crisis arises, since you will feel calmer and better able to handle it. This will also assist in times of higher work load. You will be able to favor work tasks over self-care tasks since your overall emotional health will be stronger.
Think of it as running a marathon. Those who undertake this experience don’t wake up the morning of the big race and just run, without ever practicing. No, the opposite is true. Those who run marathons train for months, even years, to build their endurance and practice the skills. Then they are ready to undertake a huge race. The same is true for self-care. You need to practice on a daily basis to build your skills and to develop the stamina and tools necessary to be ready to deal with any crisis or time constraint that comes along.
We will be discussing Self-Care as part of trainings throughout the agency. Some of you have already received this training. I hope you are able to apply some of the principles. For those who have not yet received an in-depth overview of all things Self-Care, here is a brief list of tools you can begin to utilize. Try a few to see what works best for you. Have fun with it! And please share additional strategies with your team members so everyone can benefit from your ideas!
Laughing is such a vital tool in our profession. Share funny jokes and stories with your co-workers and instantly feel some stress relief.
Focused, deep breathing relaxes your thoughts and, in turn, your body. We take for granted our need to breathe. Stopping to take a deep breath before handling a situation can help keep you focused. So take a deep, cleansing breath!
Writing is a very effective tool to physically get any stressful thoughts out of your head. Any form of writing helps, whether in a journal or simply on a piece of paper.
Close your eyes and form an image in your mind that is peaceful and stress free. You can even keep a picture of that image at your desk or in your wallet to look at in moments of stress. I know for me, one look at my daughter and all the stress melts away.
Regular exercise is invaluable in stress relief. You don’t need to do anything strenuous; a simple walk can be effective. Yoga and stretching are also beneficial – take a moment to stretch at your desk or walk around the block. Some people take a smoke break – feel free to take a “fresh air break”!