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7 tips for reducing stress as a social worker

31 Jan 2017
Posted by: Jonathan Wadsworth

It’s no secret that social work is a very stressful job. Workloads have increased due to high demands, and stress levels among the workforce have escalated as a result. Managing stress both at work and at home when the working day is done takes patience and practice. Here are our tips on how to reduce stress as a social worker:

1. Understand what aspect of your job is the most stressful for you

When you’ve had a bad day, it’s easy to overlook the exact situation which caused you to feel stressed. After the stress trigger has been fired, you could feel like everything you do afterwards is overwhelming and contributing to how you feel, even though these tasks usually cause no similar effect on other days.

Learn how to separate the stress triggers from other tasks by making a note of when you started to feel stressed and what happened to cause that.

2. Find a way to manage your triggers

After you’ve recognised which circumstances turn a good day into a bad day, put a plan into place to make sure you’re prepared for them. 

If the stressful situation is an inevitable part of your job, replace the dread of facing it with acceptance. Training yourself to know that it’s unavoidable will help you to cope with it when it arises in the future.

3. Get some support

Whether it’s your manager, a fellow social worker, or a friend within a different occupation who can offer an outsider perspective, having a line of support for when you feel stressed is key.
Identify someone you can trust, and talk through your troubles with them when you need to.

4. Learn to switch off at the end of the day

The hardest part of combating stress at work is learning to leave it at the door when you finish for the day. Carrying stress with you affects your free time and your home life, so switching off is incredibly important.

Plan things for outside of work which you can look forward to. Whether that’s a new hobby, spending time with friends, or finding a new TV boxset to get stuck into, having another focus will condition you to stop carrying the stress outside of the workplace.

5. Have some time to yourself

Taking time out of your week to focus on yourself and to have some time to relax is key when working in a stressful environment.

Going for a walk, having a bath, or reading a book are a few ways to unwind in a quiet spot away from your chaotic job. If you’re really dedicated to beating stress, you could even learn to meditate. Apps like Headspace are great at guiding you on how to zone out and put your mind at ease.

6. Practice healthy habits

Establishing a routine to your working day is very effective in reducing stress, even though it may be a very difficult task for social workers due to what the working day holds.

Timing is crucial for creating a routine, so try to eat substantial and nutritious meals at similar times every day, and try to leave work at the same time every day too. Waking up and stretching or practicing yoga is a great way to wake up your mind and to start your day well.

7. Exercise

Every list you could read about reducing stress will probably always include incorporating exercise into your life, and with good reason. 

Scientifically, exercise is great not just for your body but for your mind as well. It increases endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in the brain, and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline. Exercise is the quickest, cheapest and most effective way of clearing your mind of stress.

Do you have any tips for beating stress to add? Drop them in the comment box below!