We talk about self-care and work-life balance a lot on Confident Counselors, and for good reason. This is a tough job that comes with a lot of rewards. BUT if you aren’t thoughtful about caring for yourself, you not only won’t be able to effectively care for others, you will burn out. #realtalk.
Three Confident Counselors, including myself, share how we care for ourselves and keep our boundaries around work.
I have learned keeping a healthy work-life balance has made be a better version of myself, allowing me to better care for everyone else. I maintain a healthy work/life balance by doing three things.
Leaving work at an appropriate time.
There is always so much that needs to be done; at some point, you have to shut your work brain down and go home. When you leave, you have to leave behind the job and all that comes with it. I find that going for a walk before I go home helps me leave the work baggage at the door.
Making a priority list instead of a to-do list.
At the end of the day, as long as the important things are done, I can walk away from work satisfied.
I take one hour a week for myself.
I do not do anything that has to do with work and take the time to relax and regain focus for the upcoming week.
When you are on a plane, they tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others for a reason. If we aren’t maintaining a good work/life balance and aren’t taking care of our own sanity and well-being, we are really doing a disservice to those that depend on us.
Creating a healthy work-life balance is vital in preventing burnout in our profession. I have learned to set boundaries that help keep me grounded and focused. It has been a process, but I have realized how important self-care is. Here are some things that have helped me:
Exercise and Eating Habits
More cardio and less sugar. This is so counter-intuitive if you know me, but changing what I eat and having an exercise routine has given me more energy and helped me lose some unwanted pounds.
No Work Email
No work email on my devices and no answering work emails after hours. Definitely, a challenge for me, but it allows me to focus on my family and not be on call 24/7.
Avoid negativity and embrace the positive
I avoid toxic people and attitudes, and work really hard to build positive relationships in my workplace. When that negativity starts creeping in, I take a step back and reflect. Is there something I need to do differently? Are my perceptions true? Am I compromising my boundaries?
Self-care is not selfish. We have to figure out a way to protect our mind, body, and spirit in order to do the work we do. I love what Anne Lamott says:
Radical self-care is what we’ve been longing for, desperate for, our entire lives-friendship with our own hearts.
It is necessary. Be kind to yourself with a healthy work/life balance.
In what seems like another life, I was working 14 hours days. Working while watching football on Sunday, falling asleep sitting up, and watching my gym routine disappear in the rearview mirror. I was stressed, unhealthy, and miserable.
I had to make changes. I knew I wanted my family and my mental and physical health to be a priority. I created some routines and self-reflective questions that have kept me doing what I love and most importantly, happy and healthy.
Routines to Minimize Stress
It might sound super rigid, but I have very specific routines I do every day. In the morning, I have coffee and walk my dog. I live in New York City, and it is surprisingly quiet at this time. It clears my head for the day. I do all this before I check my phone. I have a no phone rule for the first 20-30 minutes I’m awake.
When I start my workday, I review my priority list for the day. I create this list every day at the end of the day. This helps me get started right away when I’m feeling fresh.
Even my social life is pretty routine. I go to the gym three days a week. I have date-nights, family BBQs, dinner with friends. I don’t budge on those things. I don’t give up the gym because I want to obsessively work on some lesson. I don’t pass on date night because I need to respond to some emails.
Now, this doesn’t always work. Sometimes, I fall into old habits and skip the gym or tell my boyfriend that I just need 30 minutes after dinner to do some work. When I feel myself losing control of these things, I ask myself the following questions:
- Is this more important than my health or my family?
- Was there a better way to have gotten this done before this moment?
- Can I rethink my schedule during the day to stop things from bleeding over?
Our relationships and health are so important. We need to keep ourselves present at work and at home. Find your own personal recipe that works for you.
We’d love to hear your ideas!