Thursday, January 26, 2012

Managing Stress and Crazy Days

When dealing with challenging situations, kids, and meetings, we have to find ways to prevent burnout and "leave it at work." During my graduate work, this was a big topic (thought really we should be talking about how to prevent burnout from grad school).

Fans of my Facebook page were asked, "How do you "leave it at work" after having a rough day, working on a difficult case, interacting with a tough or needy child, responding to a crisis, etc? Do you have a ritual, phrase, or certain thing you do to leave it at the office and not bring it home?" Here's what some folks had to say...
  • "Immediately engross yourself in your personal life: call people to chat or run errands, listen to music or audiobooks on your way home (my personal fave). Just simply make a mental switch to all things non work! Don't dwell!"
  • "Funny enough, on particularly rough days, I do the progressive muscle relaxation exercises that I teach kiddos with anxiety to do! I got them from the appendix of "Treatments that Work with Children" by Christopherson & Mortweet....I close my door and do them before I leave [or] I do them in my car driving home. Sometimes, on a really awful day (like a death of a student or teacher), I take a "me" night to myself and take a hot bath, light candles, and allow myself to just let go of it all. I try to acknowledge and move on."
  • "On my drive home I pass a certain landmark that signifies the time I must stop thinking about work and move on to my personal life." 
What great ideas! I often will make phone calls on my drive home, just to say hi or check in with someone. I can always be found rocking out to the radio in my car, so that's not something specific I do to clear my mind. "Me" nights are a fantastic thought, and always start for me with sweat pants! I've also heard of people having a significant landmark or road sign. One of my professors told a story that upon arriving home every day, she would touch a tree by her front door, and that was where she left her day at work. In the morning, she'd touch the tree again, and it would tell her to begin her next work day.

This website has excellent tips on how to manage stress at work, like taking care of yourself, prioritizing and organizing, breaking bad habits, and improving communication. Give it a read, because it's useful for school psychologists as well as just about anyone else having a rough day, week, month!

There is also an excellent chapter from Best Practices in School Psychology IV from Heubner, Gilligan, & Cobb that I found on the National Association of School Psychologists' (NASP) website. I also remember reading this back in the grad school days.

Any other tips or suggestions that help you manage stress and burnout? Hopefully some of these resources will help you through the mid-school year slump!

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1 comment:

  1. As it so happens, I just attended a training class that focused its last few hours on the need for taking care of yourself as a mental-help provider. The presenter talked about taking moments in the day just for yourself "me moments". Lots of talk about yoga, engaging in mindless activities of fun - like painting, coloring, playing with legos and many others. I personally find that the more stressed I get, the more I want to quit exercising, but I need to exercise to stay energized. It's a vicious cycle. So I've taken the drama out of exercising and I just walk. I walk at school, I walk at home, I walk. It helps a lot and also counter-acts those moments of "chocolate attack" that I seem to have when things crescendo in my work life!


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