What skills does a social worker need?
13 Sep 21
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The role of social workers is often focused on the wellbeing of others, but how can they make sure they take care of themselves at work?
Mental health awareness is important in every line of work. But for those who spend their time caring about others, acts of self-care can fall by the wayside. Just because you understand the workings of mental health doesn’t mean you always practice it.
That’s why it’s vital to consider both personal and professional development in employment. Investing in yourself not only makes you happier, but you’ll get better job satisfaction and you’ll be able to provide better care for service users.
At the University of Bolton, we put students, and their needs first. We believe in balance between work and rest, and we are always here to talk. Here are 5 ways you can improve your mental health while working, training or juggling a master’s.
1. Take time off to relax
Whether you book a few days off to recharge, or simply dedicate an hour each day to wellbeing, taking a break from your work is hugely beneficial.
According to Brittany Johnson, a licensed mental health counsellor, taking breaks from your work allows your brain and body to recharge. Well-rested people are more productive and ultimately a lot more passionate in their jobs.
The MA Social Work course at the University of Bolton helps existing social work professionals develop knowledge in a range of modules, including self-care, resilience and workload management. This is all key in making sure you don’t suffer burnout.
2. Switch off at the end of the day
Not only is it important to book time off and enjoy holidays, but switching off when you finish your working day is just as essential. The role of social workers means being deeply invested in the people they are helping, and this can make it difficult to transition from work life to home life.
To help you relax properly, try these things:
- Switch off your phone/laptop so you can disconnect from calls and emails for a few hours
- Take up a hobby in the evening that shifts your focus onto something else
- Make plans (even if it’s just watching a film or cooking dinner) and stick to them
- Go for a walk to empty your head
- Try meditation or yoga
3. Exercise regularly
Working out may not be at the top of your agenda, especially if you’re in a high-stress, high-emotion role. Stress, worry and fear for those you’re caring for can be draining and it doesn’t leave you much energy to hit the gym.
But exercise doesn’t always have to be high energy. Even a 15 minute stroll or some stretching can help to keep the blood pumping in your body. In fact, the minimum amount of time for a walk to melt away stress and anxiety is only 12 minutes!
Other low-impact forms of exercise:
- Yoga or Pilates
- Tai Chi
- Light weight lifting
- Aerobics or dancing
- Cleaning the house (that’s right, you could burn up to 200 calories an hour!)
4. Have a support network
Not everyone finds it easy to talk about stress, anxiety or depression. Especially if your job requires you to be strong for others. But there’s a lot of be said in talking therapy, so building a support network is a must when it comes to better mental health awareness.
Talking with friends, work colleagues or your university tutors can help you offload some of your burdens, and can also raise awareness about the mental wellbeing of social workers.
At the University of Bolton, we have a vibrant and diverse postgraduate community as well as a supportive campus. You’ll be able to grow your professional network, while also having great contacts for emotional support.
5. Push for professional development
Being happy in your job means being able to communicate your feelings effectively. This is key in ensuring there’s sufficient mental health awareness in the workplace.
While employers have to do more to ensure wellbeing practices are in place, social workers also have to make sure they have a voice. Be open with your employer and ask about career development to improve your skills and to embrace new challenges.
To find out more about applying for our MA Social Work programme in September 2021, see our course page for details.
We’re No.1 for Student Satisfaction in Social Work Courses* for the second year running, so there’s nowhere better to enjoy personal and professional development!
If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on +44 (0)1204 903 394 or email@example.com.
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