1. Don’t Fall Victim to Compassion FatigueCommunity services work can be a very satisfying line of work for those interested in listening and showing compassion to clients who rely on them for emotional and moral support, and developing plans of action through which those clients can overcome their challenges. However, listening to others’ descriptions of their trials and tribulations — which, at times, can be deeply personal and uncomfortable — can take its toll on the worker, and create a sense of “compassion fatigue”; or, as described by Dr. Charles Figley, the “cost of caring” for those experiencing emotional struggles. According to Psychology Today, some symptoms of compassion fatigue include insomnia, difficulty with concentration, feelings of powerlessness, and self-isolation. To avoid suffering from compassion fatigue, it’s important to be good to yourself, express your needs and feelings with people you trust, and set emotional boundaries. Avoiding reading or watching news stories about harrowing subject matter and/or the suffering of others can also go some way in helping you steer clear of compassion fatigue.
2. Avoid Overworking Yourself After Getting Your CSW DiplomaOnce you’ve completed your community services worker training and are ready to enter the industry full-time, you will begin to face the daily responsibilities of the job. While this line of work is incredibly rewarding, it can also have its challenges. You may find yourself listening to clients’ accounts of their traumatic life experiences, juggling numerous cases at once, and more. This can quickly lead to stress and occasionally, burnout. Though it may seem like you’re letting down people who count on you for help the most, setting boundaries for scheduling and making commitments is often a necessary component of maintaining your peace of mind and having a healthy work life. The less stress and extra tasks on your plate, the more effective you’ll be at honouring your work obligations by setting limits and making reasonable schedules for yourself. After all, meeting your clients’ needs shouldn’t come at the expense of your mental health.
3. Stay Focused and in the Moment by Practicing MindfulnessPracticing mindfulness means maintaining a healthy state of mind and optimizing the “life” part of your work-life balance. Mindfulness is a technique typically involving breathing exercises, meditation, focusing on the present moment, and acknowledging thoughts and allowing them to pass through your mind without judgment. Though it certainly takes practice to master (as any new skill would), practicing mindfulness can not only be a welcome distraction from the day-to-day stresses of community services work, but can also help you better navigate them. If you’re experiencing feelings of stress, depression and/or anxiety, mindfulness can be a major factor in reducing these symptoms.
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