"Step back from time to time and give yourself space to think" by Dr Neil Thompson

Life is never without its challenge, but there is always the opportunity to learn and grow from those demands made on us. Dr Neil Thompson offers advice to tackle these problems and help social workers and care professionals to realise their potential.

21/02/22

"Step back from time to time and give yourself space to think" by Dr  Neil Thompson

Busy people can easily get themselves into a whirl of activity that strongly resembles a hamster wheel – an awful lot of energy being expended, but not necessarily much progress being achieved.

What can therefore be of great value is to take a step back from time to time and think about what our current pressures are and work out what is the best way of dealing with them.

Can we change anything in the way things are currently working out? Can we deal with certain issues differently to ease or remove certain pressure points? Can we reschedule or reprioritize certain things? Do we need someone’s assistance or support in some areas? All these important questions can remain unanswered if we just press on and not make the time to step back and take stock. This is a key part of reflective practice.

As we have noted, the modern workplace tends to be a pressurized one. There is therefore a temptation to just press on, to adopt an attitude of ‘Head down, get on with it’.

This can be highly dangerous as it means that people are making decisions, interacting with other people and generally going about their business without giving enough thought to what is involved or how it might go wrong.

Part of the problem is that some workplace cultures can encourage this sort of behaviour and create the impression that stopping to think is a luxury you can’t afford if you work here (rather than a necessity if you are to practise safely). So, whether the impetus to just ‘get on with the job’ without thinking is coming from within yourself or from your wrong environment, the significant (and potentially disastrous) dangers remain the same.

Dr Neil Thompson is an independent writer, educator and adviser and a visiting professor at the Open University. His books include How to Survive in Social Work (with John McGowan) and The Managing Stress Practice Manual. He is also the Vice President of Vigoroom UK, a sophisticated employee wellness platform designed to help create happier and healthier workplaces: www.vigoroom.co.uk.

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