As clinicians, constantly giving our energy to others can be draining and demanding — but it doesn’t have to be. Once we can establish healthy routines and habits, prioritize our needs, set goals for ourselves, and nourish our own mental health, we can better help those that we serve. This blog will discuss some ideas and routines to integrate into your workday as a solution to improving your personal journey of creating and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Below are a few (of MANY) ways that we can strive to implement healthy habits into our personal and professional lives to ensure that we are happy and healthy clinicians.
Create a ‘Pre-Work’ Routine
A pre-work or morning routine is essential for all working individuals; however, even more for those of us working in helping professions. With the chaos and stress that occurs during the work day, it is imperative that we begin the day with taking time to center ourselves and prepare us to deal with overwhelming feelings that may come up.
Whether this time is used to meditate, write, journal, read, or mindfully drink coffee or tea (or even better – all of these), it is important to take time to yourself.
Here are a few ideas below to create a morning ritual below:
☉ Choose or create a designated quiet space for your morning routine
☉ Prevent checking your phone or email prior to engaging in your morning routine
☉ Focus on you during this time — not what you need to do for other – turn the focus to yourself and your needs
☉ Try out different guided meditations
☉ Get yourself a journal – it may be helpful to begin your day with writing down all of your worries or stressors and then to finish the journal with ‘these worries are okay because ______’ (i.e. they will all get done, I will do my best and leave the rest, etc.)
Create a Comfortable Work Space
Through the pandemic, many of us got comfortable working in our cozy home spaces. Who said we can’t make our work space cozy as well? By creating a comfortable environment with more than just file folders and office supplies, we can create a home away from home. It is important that we have comfort items and things that promote feelings of safety, security, and happiness throughout our chaotic workday. This allows us to ebb and flow through feelings of anxiety and stress but also comfort.
Here are a few ideas below:
☉ Keep a cozy pair of slippers to slip on under your desk – maybe you’ll even get some compliments on your unicorn slippers
☉ Bring yourself a cozy blanket to snuggle up to while you write reports
☉ Keep a cup at your desk and a drawer full of tea – this way you can have some herbal fuel to complete all of your progress reports
☉ Create a treat jar – whether this is candy, funny stickers, or something else that fuels you – we need motivators to keep going too!
Write Goals for Yourself
As clinicians, we are constantly writing goals for others and setting intentions to inspire and monitor growth in specific areas. This is a practice that is specific, goal-oriented, and focuses on the ability for an individual to grow and improve. As clinicians, yet more
important – as human beings – we also deserve to set goals for ourselves and nourish growth in specific areas of our lives. The more that we set goals for ourselves (not just our clinical selves), the healthier we are during work and non-work hours. Achieving and reaching goals also provides us with reinforcement that we are on the right track and creates motivation to continue moving forward.
Read below for some advice on goal-setting:
☉ Create goals in specific areas: mind, body, soul, social, career, financial, etc.
☉ Set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals (both personal and professional)
☉ Establish a reward system for yourself (i.e. Once I finish all of my monthly evaluations, I will treat myself to ____) — we do this all of the time with our students/clients, we deserve reinforcement too!
☉ Set some shared goals with someone else, potentially a co-worker, to hold each other accountable to striving for personal and professional goals
☉ Acknowledge and celebrate when you meet goals – this provides reinforcement and motivation to continue moving forward.
Get a Work Journal
One thing that is simple, yet profound, is the practice of keeping a work journal. As clinicians, we can get stressed out or overwhelmed during the workday. However, by having a journal, or a physical ‘safe space’ in sight, we can grab it and begin expressing our worries, frustrations, or necessary affirmations on paper. We can also use a journal as a way to keep our minds in perspective and look at things from a place of gratitude and acceptance.
Here are a few journal prompts below:
☉ Write 10 things that you are grateful for about your job
☉ “I am feeling __________ (i.e. stressed, anxious) but that’s okay because ______ (i.e. I will get everything done, these feeling are temporary)
☉ Name 3 reasons why you work hard and 3 rewards that you get from doing so
☉ Write your 3 favorite memories from your job in the last week/month/year
☉ What would you tell a coworker right now that was feeling as stressed/overwhelmed as you are right now?
☉ Give yourself a compliment for something that you have done well today
Create a ‘Post-Work’ Routine
Just as we need a morning ritual to prepare ourselves for the day, we also need one after our work day to decompress. Whether this is directly after your work day or a few hours later, holding space for ourselves to decompress will allow us to leave our job duties at
work and not bring them into our personal life. Many of the ideas listed from the ‘pre-work’ routine suggestions such as reading, writing, and journaling can be helpful during this time as well. However, for a post-work routine or ritual, it is also important
to allow an opportunity for your body to physically release built up stress stored inside of it.
Here are a few ideas below:
☉ Go for a walk or run while listening to an uplifting (or even a mindless) podcast
☉ Engage in a physical activity outdoors (i.e. bike riding, swimming, etc.) and enjoy nature
☉ Do yoga, breath work, or a walking meditation
☉ Turn on a song that uplifts you and dance to it – it doesn’t matter what makes you move your body, as long as you move it
☉ Go to your favorite workout class – maybe even invite a coworker to blow off steam together from a stressful work day
Overall….do things for yourself
Whether you choose to do all or none of the suggestions listed above, what is important is that you take care of yourself. Continue to explore different ideas to incorporate a healthy work-life balance and routines throughout your work day. If something doesn’t work, try something else. You wouldn’t stop doing therapy for others when things don’t
work right away – give yourself the same patience, persistence, and perseverance that you give others when trying to help them meet their needs and goals. Being in a helping profession can be hard and demanding. You do things for others all day long, just channel some of that giving energy and do the same for yourself. You are worth it!
Author: Delaney Beam, M.A. CF-SLP, 200 HR Registered Yoga Teacher, & Reiki Master