After hearing that many Social Workers feel so depleted when they get home from work they can't even think about what they might need, I am revealing the best thing you can do to help with your work-to-home transition. By the end of this blog post, you will have concrete tools to care for yourself after a long day of social working.
After a long day of social working, do you find it hard to leave work at work?
Do you find that you spend your downtime ruminating about the day or worrying about your work to-do list?
Do you feel too drained at the end of the day to even think about your own needs?
You are not alone!! I hear this from many Social Workers.
When Work Follows You Home
“Transitions are particularly difficult for the Highly Sensitive Social Worker, as being rushed without time to reflect & process can lead to overstimulation.”
Whether you work in medical social work, mental health, child welfare, or another branch of social work, chances are your days are jam-packed! Social Workers often tell me that their days are filled with more tasks than they can complete. When you really care about the people you work with, it can be hard to leave things unfinished.
In addition, Social Work requires a lot of empathy and emotional energy. When your day includes rushing from task to task, there is little time to process the emotions that come up for YOU! This is another reason it can be difficult to leave work at work.
Transitions are particularly difficult for the Highly Sensitive Social Worker, as being rushed without time to reflect and process can lead to overstimulation. This might present as anxiety, irritability, or trouble winding down and relaxing.
Reconnecting with Yourself
Now, imagine heading into your evening feeling refreshed, grounded, and connected with your own needs?
You can offer yourself this by slowing down at the end of each workday and giving yourself some time to transition.
One of the best gestures of care you can offer yourself is an end-of-the-workday ritual. It is important to have an internal boundary between your work life where you are supporting your clients, and your personal life where you take care of yourself.
Take your time to think about what would be most helpful for YOU. What feels grounding, soothing, or rejuvenating for you? You will want to consider what will allow you to 1) let go of the day you had and 2) reconnect with yourself as you move into the next part of the day. Take a moment to write down some ideas.
If you are drawing a blank, not to worry! I have included some ideas here for you to consider and try.
7 End-of-the-Workday Ritual Ideas
"A familiar ritual is like a balm to an overstimulated nervous system; the more familiar it is, the more comforting it is! ”
1. Process the day
Rather than rushing to the next thing, take some time to reflect on your day. You could try writing down the significant things that occurred, how you felt about them, and offer yourself some kindness regarding whatever emotions arose for you. Consider if there is anything you might want some support or supervision with.
2. Write down that to-do list
If you find you are ending the day with your mind full of to-dos for the next day, write them all down. Get every worry down on paper, and whenever your mind drifts back to one of those things remind yourself, you have already set that down for the day.
3. Move your body
Research has shown that moving our bodies helps to complete the stress cycle. Whether you prefer to walk, run, do yoga, or something else entirely, moving your body will help energic stress leave the nervous system and allowing you to settle & feel more relaxed as you transition into YOU time.
4. Ground yourself
Practice your favorite grounding, mindfulness, or breathing technique. Taking some time to come back to the present moment and soothe the nervous system can help you start the evening off right.
Before you leave your office, or as soon as you arrive home, take some time to meditate. Taking time for stillness helps to settle busy thoughts.
I created a guided meditation specifically for the stressed-out, overwhelmed Social Worker. This meditation will help you separate your energy from the people around you, reconnect with yourself, and head into the rest of your day feeling grounded. You can get it for free here.
6. Use imagery
Use your imagination to separate yourself from the day you have had so far. You could image a barrier between you and your work, or image cutting the cords to all the things that are sucking your energy.
7. Do something that feels cleansing
Take a shower, wash your face, or change your clothes. Wash away the day or take off your social work "hat",
Honour Your Needs
I know you are busy and it can feel like a hassle to add this extra thing into your day, but taking even 10 minutes for yourself may allow you to truly enjoy your time off.
Having an end-of-the-workday ritual allows you to let go of the day's stress, and reconnect with yourself. As you do this ritual regularly, it will become easier and easier to let go, be present and find ease in the transition. A familiar ritual is like a balm to an overstimulated nervous system; the more familiar it is, the more comforting it is!
You spend your days supporting others, you can offer yourself the same support and care.