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Working in Social Services with the homeless and formerly homeless population, is very taxing. In all actuality, no one really wants to live on the streets. A very small percentage do, and most of these individuals battle serious mental health disorders. Would you be surprised, if I told you, most of us are only two paychecks away from homelessness? You shouldn’t be! Do you have an emergency fund saved up? If you lost your job now, or became ill that you couldn’t work for a while, how would you survive? Would unemployment be enough to sustain you and your family until you can work again? Typically, wherever feasible, each one of us should have at least three months of expenses put away in the event of an emergency
Social Services and Mental Health often go hand in hand. The five most common mental health disorders relate to mood, eating, personality, substance abuse, and ADHD. Most of my clients have dual/co morbid disorders, and at any time, at least one is active. The facts are at least one in every three people suffer from a mental health disorder of some sort. If you are lucky enough, there is a good chance the only thing you have to worry about, is stress and anxiety.
With many people dealing with so much at any given time, I wanted to give some basic tried and true suggestions that can be used every day to help anyone struggling with interpersonal conflict and other issues at work. For decades I worked in offices, doing the 9 to 5. No workplace is without its drawbacks. Coping strategies are a must. Today, and for the past several months, I’m lucky enough that I don’t have an office! I love that I make my schedule, start and finish when I want to. Once per week, for two or three hours I go to the office and see my other colleagues. I consider myself a free spirit and this matches my personality quite nicely!
I warmly welcome your opinion and comments below, if you found them helpful!
First and foremost, we cannot function at optimal levels if we are not mentally and physically ready for eventuality. Sure, you will do just fine for a while, even years, but sooner or later, it will catch up with you. No trial or difficulty ever happens at a convenient time. No one needs a reminder that diet and exercise is an integral part of everything we do, and how we show up for it. Pick up any self-help book, magazine, article etc. and they will preach the same things, and this strategy is mentioned every single time
Second, try as often as you can to start the day off right. Do you find yourself frazzled and already stressed out before your day has even begun? Is there something you could do differently the night before to help ease your nerves? Make lunch, put things in the right places, etc. Proper planning, will help considerably. Consider at least five or ten minute of meditation before the day even gets going. You WILL notice a difference. A positive attitude will not get easily derailed if your bus is late, there is traffic ahead etc
Third, a lot of stress in the workplace is caused by poor communication; which in turn affects how you understand your work duties, causes miscommunications, lead to hurt feelings, errors of judgement etc. So, what can you do to improve the way you communicate with others? Ask yourself, are you and your coworkers on the same page? When they step out of line, how do you handle this? Sitting and stewing helps no one. Speak up in meetings, do not think because you perceived a situation to be obvious that everyone else does too. More than half of what we say and don’t say is communicated via body language. What is yours saying to the rest of the staff? Are you open and friendly, or isolated from everyone else, whether it’s intentional? Of course, be sure to put and keep boundaries in place
Finally, stay away from interpersonal conflict (if you can). Let’s face it, conflict at work is inescapable. Avoiding gossip, over sharing personal information, arguments about politics and religion, and off-color jokes. If you must work with someone who is often involved in these behaviors, try to limit your interaction with them. If conflict does find its way to your desk, and believe me it will, consider the following strategies; practice good listening skills, be assertive, not overbearing in your communication, do your best to seek a solution, and work hard to seek a solution. These strategies are not exhaustive.
Until the next post,