Being a social worker means dedicating a large portion of your life to helping other people, and you can easily forget to look after yourself. Being an emotional crutch for other people can leave you feeling stressed and vulnerable. Therefore, you must learn how to relax and let the stress slip away.
As social workers progress through their careers, by studying for a masters in social care, for example, they often find life becoming more stressful. Carrying out a course online will solve some of the stress issues, but the job can still be difficult at times.
If you’ve got some time to yourself coming up but you don’t know how to switch off your mind, we’ve got your back. Below, we will offer you some quick activities you can do that will easily slot into your busy life.
Light a Candle
There’s nothing quite like a relaxing bath at the end of the day, with your favorite scented candles on to add to the ambiance. As well as being visually relaxing, scented candles are great for aromatherapy. You can combine your candle use with essential oils, which may help improve your sleep and decrease levels of anxiety. Some of the most popular fragrances for a soothing effect are rose, lavender, vetiver, and frankincense.
No matter what job you do, exercising is one of the most proven ways of relieving workplace stresses. When you exercise, your body will flood with endorphins and counteract cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress). When social workers feel fragile mentally, the best way to feel better is to put stress on your body physically. As well as relieving stress, exercise can boost confidence and help with regulating your sleep pattern.
You don’t need to take hours out of your week to schedule, you just need to increase your level of physical activity. This can be as simple as walking to work instead of taking the car. The World Health Organization (WHO), recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.
When you lead a busy lifestyle, supplements can offer a way of boosting hormone levels and giving your body the fighting chance it needs. One of the best natural supplements for stress relief is ashwagandha, which is an herb proven to combat stress. Alternatively, you can start sipping a soothing cup of green tea now and again. Green tea contains antioxidants that are known to increase levels of serotonin.
Write Down Your Thoughts
When your brain is full of thoughts and won’t be quiet, it can have a detrimental impact on your sleeping pattern. In turn, you will find yourself underperforming and not supporting others to the best of your ability. One of the best ways to release built-up thoughts is to write them down. Your journal doesn’t need to be coherent, but it should act as a personal place for you to vent.
Writing down your negative thoughts can help release them from your mind. However, you should include positive feelings in your journal to remind yourself that not everything is bleak.
Ease Off The Caffeine
Nothing beats a good cup of coffee in the morning to get you going. However, too much of the good stuff can increase your levels of stress and anxiety – which isn’t helpful when you need to communicate effectively in your line of work. If you are feeling more anxious but can’t work out why try limiting your intake of caffeine.
If caffeine is getting you down, you don’t need to wave goodbye to your mug of coffee in the morning. All you need to do is start drinking decaf, which tastes pretty similar to the real stuff.
Be Around Friends and Family
When times are hard at work, you can always rely on a good friend and your family to share the burden. Spending time with your loved ones, even if it’s just for a quick coffee is a great way to relieve stress and feel happy. Further, being part of a caring social network will offer you a sense of belonging, which is important to feeling mentally healthy.
Studies have found that men and women who fail to interact with others feel higher levels of stress. Further, it has been suggested that women who spend time with their friends and family will have higher levels of oxytocin.
Chew Some Gum
In the same way that stress toys can relieve stress, chewing gum can relieve your mind in a pinch. The science behind this suggests that chewing gum will increase blood flow to the brain. There have been studies that report that people who chew gum are more likely to feel lower stress levels and greater levels of mental wellbeing.
As a social worker, you will feel obliged to support other people and go above and beyond. However, sometimes life can be too much and you need to say no. Although you can’t control everything that will trigger stress, you can take control of some things in your life. For example, when you get asked to work extra hours above your schedule – say no.
Picking and choosing what you put into your schedule, through the power of saying no, will help you have a healthier work/life balance.
Pick Up Yoga
The praying mantis – and other yoga poses – can help your mind and body to relax. Through taking up yoga, you will find an improved awareness of your entire body and your breathing. Yoga benefits the central nervous system and eases your body’s stress responses. The exercises can help get your blood flowing and improve blood pressure, heart rate, and those cortisol levels we mentioned earlier.
Leave Procrastination Behind
We’ve all been there – procrastination station. You know you should be doing something important, but you can’t help but get drawn into the latest episode of your favorite mindless television show. When you procrastinate, you will find yourself attempting to catch up with missed work. You need to learn how to say no to your inner procrastinator and stay on track.
When you need to get jobs done, you should plan for regular breaks. This way, your mind won’t feel the need to take time off when you should be working.
There are plenty of apps for this one, and you don’t need to be at home. All you need is a quiet place to focus – which is perfect for social workers who are constantly on the go. Through the power of breathing and thinking about the here and now, you can lower the body’s stress hormones. When you feel at peace with yourself, you can better support those who need your care.
Have A Good Cuddle
This one is for those with a significant other in their life. Through the power of touch including cuddling, kissing, and sexual contact, you can reduce your levels of stress. Through positive human touch, your body will release endorphins that are responsible for making you feel good. Further, you can lower your blood pressure and get a good release of oxytocin.
Fun fact – When chimpanzees are stressed out they will cuddle each other for support.
Revel In The Music
Music has a way of impacting our mood, and the same goes for relaxation. Although our tastes are different, certain music is proven to lower the body’s stress levels. When you listen to music you like, you can lose yourself, and forget about your problems.
If you are struggling with sleep as a result of stress, you should consider listening to calming sounds like rainfall, the ocean, or string instruments. If you’ve got a smart device, like the Google Nest, you can say goodnight to it, which will activate a soothing jungle sound.
Get Yourself a Pet
Pets are a proven method of reducing our stress levels and improving our overall mood. With a pet, you are less likely to face depression because you will constantly have another creature to care for – which will give you a sense of purpose. Further, if you have a pet you can play with – like a dog – you can flood your brain with dopamine and serotonin. In turn, this will reduce your stress levels.
When you’re too busy being stressed and depressed, it can be difficult to find time for real laughter. However, getting a healthy fill of laughing into your life will help boost your immune system and release your stress hormones. You can find laughter everywhere including spending time with friends, watching a comedy, as well as in daily life. Remember, laughing is contagious – if you don’t feel like laughing you should surround yourselves with people that do. Eventually, their laughter will brush off on you.
The life of a social worker is extremely demanding, so it’s important to know how to look after yourself. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; all you need to do is make slight changes to your current daily routine – like walking to work instead of taking the car. When you’re looking for activities to do, look for things that reduce your cortisol levels and boost your dopamine and serotonin. If you look after yourself, you will be in a greater position to care for those who rely on you.