Any kind of special education job or school-based therapist job tends to require work that can stretch beyond the normal 9-5. While this work can be incredibly rewarding, it’s all too easy to forget to take care of YOURSELF! This can be detrimental not only to you, but to those you are helping. Here are three tips for maintaining work-life balance – so you can stay healthy, stay happy, and do your job more effectively.
Setting boundaries between work and life is important for any profession. There needs to be a divide between the two so that you can have time to refresh and rejuvenate. Without a clear split, you can never really feel “off.” It is very easy to let things spill over, especially with speech therapy and occupational therapy jobs, where the treatment can be unique and specialized for each individual. Find an activity that allows you to clear your mind and not think about work…whether it is a hobby, spending time with family, or just taking a walk or exercising. Set a time that fits your schedule…and then stick with it.
Prioritize Your Own Needs
When most of your time is spent helping others, you can easily forget your own needs and let your patient’s needs replace them. One analogy compares the importance of taking care of yourself to putting on your own oxygen mask on the plane before helping those around you. Following this analogy…you must pay attention to your needs, so you do not end up feeling like you are suffocating. Even when time is limited, take a few moments each day to address any issues or concerns in your life that you might be overlooking. In essence…make sure that you are taking care of yourself, so you are able to take care of others.
There are times when you do not have as much control as you may like over your workload. It is important to remember to pace yourself when managing a heavy workload. It can be difficult to find the sweet spot between feeling like you are not doing enough and overburdening yourself, but if you simply cannot give 100% to everyone you work with, it is a disservice to them and you.
There ARE ways to maintain work-life balance and continue to do good work with a heavy caseload. Much of it depends on taking precautions and steps to make sure that you are able to perform at your best with the level of work you have. In an industry that revolves around helping others, don’t forget to help yourself first so you can be at your best and most effective.
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