I just finished recording a podcast interview about my work as a forensic psychologist and how I maintain my own mental wellness. Many types of doctors and other professionals who work in an environment where people constantly need your assistance can experience their own residual troubles or burnout. To be our best for those who we love to help, we need to be the best versions of ourselves at work and at home. Here's how I accomplish this:
1. Being social outside of my profession
A key to self-care when you work in an intense field or when you really just want to get your mind out of work mode is to surround yourself with friends that do not do what you do. This will allow you to talk about stuff other than your work and get back to what matters most to you in your family and social life. As we get older this can get tricky. You usually meet people at work or through people at work, so some real strategy needs to go into this. Maintain friends you knew before you became a professional. Get together with work friends and their spouses (who hopefully do something else for a living). Get involved in a social activity (think hiking group) that doesn't revolve around your job.
Seriously. This really is a part of my daily self-care routine. I mean, come on, its the little things right? As I blabbed in extensively on my post about coffeeshop workspaces, coffee is a tiny slice of time for me in my busy schedule. It may only consist of sipping that first cup as I sit down at my desk while booting up my computer but something about the ritual gets me relaxed and ready for the day.
3. Encouraging support and self-care at work
The work place in a mentally demanding job needs to be a safe place for the employees if we want to keep them around. I try to keep an environment where the staff clinicians can debrief or vent with each other at any time. I also put aside time for the entire staff to get together and process the goings ons of theirs caseloads and get feedback from other professionals. We also try to keep it light. I think that professionals who deal with heavy subject matter have a great way of including an appropriate amount of humor into their work; it can make all the difference in the world.
Obviously, right? Planning the next great adventure is my "work to play" mantra. Fortunately I love my job, but I love traveling more and I am constantly trying to find ways to work travel into my job. I have found that this is a great way to mix the two and have more opportunity to travel other than the planned annual vacation. When I have the goal of visiting Ibiza and then a conference opportunity comes up in Portugal- you bet I am going to find a way to make both happen. Why not add stamps to your passport while you add experience to your resume?
5. The little things...
...like today. My husband took a few hours off work and we took the kiddo to see Beauty and the Beast. It was the perfect little family afternoon date and it was a nice way to break routine; a great way to let the little one know that she is more important than work and that family comes first. We make no qualms about burning some vacation time for things like this.