4 Ways to Manage the Stress of Social Work
Helpers Need Care Too
Because their profession is primarily concerned with alleviating the struggles of vulnerable members of society, social workers were some of the most overworked during the pandemic. According to a statement from the International Federation of Social Workers secretary-general Dr. Rory Truell, a lack of protective equipment, support, and resources worldwide made it challenging for social workers to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. With many lockdowns in place through the years, social workers were made to deal with the unique dilemmas families faced, such as deaths, grief, and increased cases of domestic abuse.
However, among social workers, there exists a culture of martyrdom. Because the profession is defined by its contributions to human welfare, many social workers may be tempted to abandon their own needs in favor of prioritizing others. However, when people fail to take care of themselves, they become vulnerable to stress, burnout, and poor mental and physical health. To help social workers take care of themselves, we’ve listed a few ways to manage the stress of social work to provide them with the tools to mitigate the stress of their profession.
Ways to Manage the Stress of Social Work
Apply to Remote Jobs
It can be easier to achieve a healthy work-life balance when you work remotely. With remote work, social workers can reduce the time and money they spend on commutes. However, just because you work remotely doesn’t mean your schedule will automatically be manageable. Fortunately, the virtual care company Wheel recently created a solution that can help care workers avoid overloading themselves. When social workers apply to Wheel’s clinical network, the company will match them with remote care opportunities that match their schedules, preferences, and skills. With Wheel, social workers can easily create a daily work schedule that gives them enough time for rest, family, leisure, and other obligations.
Streamline Work with Software
Every day, social workers need to deal with important data, such as client information, notes, and outcomes. To reduce stress, social workers can look for software that can help them keep their data organized. Case management software like FAMCare Human Services and Penelope can store client information for social work organizations. On the other hand, free apps like Evernote, Remember The Milk, and DropBox can help you manage files and stay on top of day-to-day tasks. The free contact management software Plaxo might be particularly useful for social workers, since it can keep track of all online contacts, even updating them automatically when changes occur.
No matter what your profession is, mindfulness exercises are some of the most effective tools for managing stress. Mindfulness requires you to stop and pay closer attention to your thoughts, emotions, and surroundings. By gaining a greater sense of internal awareness, you can allow negative thoughts to pass, which decreases their power over you.
Some mindfulness exercises include meditation, breathing exercises, gardening, writing, and yoga. Our article entitled ‘The 6 Most Popular Types of Yoga’ recommends Hatha and Yin Yoga for relaxation. The slow-paced Hatha Yoga combines breathing exercises with poses and meditation to increase flexibility, improve posture, and reduce stress. On the other hand, Yin Yoga uses more relaxed poses (usually involving sitting and laying) to restore the body and mind.
Ask for Help
Just because it’s your job to help people, this doesn’t mean that you should never ask for help yourself. If you cannot manage stress on your own, it may help to seek advice from mental health professionals. Counselors, therapists, and psychologists can all look into your current situation, point out the main stressors in your life, and help you select efficient stress management strategies. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance or support from close friends or family.
Social work can be an exhausting profession, especially during a pandemic. Mitigate stress by choosing manageable remote work schedules, supplementing work with software, practicing mindfulness, and asking for help.