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The myth of work-life balance: Maintaining wellbeing with a work-life blend

Le’Siran Edwards, Award-winning trauma-informed Leadership Coach and host of the ‘Dear Social Worker, Let’s Talk’ podcast, details how to prioritise your own well-being.

26/02/24

The myth of work-life balance: Maintaining wellbeing with a work-life blend

Dear social worker, in the elusive quest for work-life balance, we often find ourselves caught in a never-ending juggling act, attempting to keep professional and personal spheres in perfect equilibrium. However, let's face it – the notion of a work-life balance is as mythical as a unicorn in the realm of social work. In this article, we'll unravel the comedic realities of this illusory balance and delve into what you should genuinely focus on to safeguard your wellbeing.

The myth of work-life balance
Work-life balance, like a mirage in the desert, promises an oasis of tranquillity that remains perpetually out of reach. You are dedicated to making a difference, often finding yourself straddling the thin line between professional commitment and personal time. The truth is, the demands of social work seldom adhere to a neat 9-to-5 schedule, and families lives do not stop when the clock strikes five.

The work-life blend
So, what's the alternative? Let's embrace the work-life blend, a more realistic and less stress-inducing concept. Instead of aiming for a strict separation between work and life, as social workers, we can acknowledge the fluidity of these roles. Picture your work and personal life as ingredients in a well-mixed smoothie – sometimes, it's a bit more work and sometimes it's a dash of personal time. The key is to create a blend that suits your individual lifestyle and needs.

Maintaining wellbeing: The therapy of laughter
Laughter truly is the best medicine, and you can use it as a potent elixir for your wellbeing. Whether it's sharing a light-hearted moment with colleagues or finding joy in the situations, humour can be a powerful coping mechanism. So, when the paperwork seems endless or the challenges overwhelming, throw in a dash of laughter – it's can be a secret ingredient to maintaining sanity in the social work kitchen.

The art of saying 'no'
As Social Workers we are notorious for our superhero tendencies. However, learning the art of saying 'no' is like mastering the perfect soufflé – it takes practice. By setting realistic boundaries and recognising the limits of your superhero cape, you can work towards a more sustainable work-life blend. Sometimes, it’s saying no to family and friends too, as you simply need ‘alone time’ to recharge.

The routine of self-care
Instead of chasing an elusive work-life balance, let’s focus on developing a self-care routine. Imagine self-care as the weekly 'Great British Bake Off' episode – a delightful and essential treat. Whether it's a peaceful cup of tea, a brisk walk in the park, or a guilt-free binge-watch session, you deserve moments of indulgence. Choose your treats and stick to it, as far as possible!

The importance of connection
As social workers we thrive on connection – with families, colleagues and the community. Building a supportive network is like having your own team of sous-chefs, ready to lend a hand when the workload becomes overwhelming. Whether it's a quick catch-up over coffee or a virtual chat, fostering meaningful connections is key to navigating challenges and helps maintain good mental health.

Let’s get you started on your work-life blend immediately. I invite you to answer these questions:
• What brings a smile to your face?
• What boundaries are you ready to set by saying 'no'?
• What will become a staple part of your self-care regimen?
• Who in your network can form a crucial part of your support system?

In the grand culinary adventure of social work, the concept of work-life balance is an outdated recipe. Instead, let's embrace the work-life blend, sprinkling in healthy doses of humour, the ability to say 'no,' self-care routines, and the sprinkle of connection. By acknowledging the delightful chaos of the social work kitchen, social workers can create a recipe for sustainable wellbeing that's fulfilling. After all, in the unpredictable world of social work, a pinch of laughter and a dash of self-care might just what you need to keep you going.

You can join sessions from Le'Siran Edwards in-person at the upcoming Shared Futures in Social Work conference (part of the COMPASS Jobs Fair, Birmingham) on 18th March: https://www.compassjobsfair.com/Events/Birmingham/Book-Tickets

Le’Siran offers Trauma-Informed Self-Care Workshops, please visit: https://socialworkcoachinghub.com/#trauma-informed-workshops

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