Social work can be a stressful undertaking. Anyone who attempts to tackle social work as a career must understand how to prioritize self-care. While recent studies may indicate that behavioral issues are common among social workers, this need not be the case. With self-care and social worker continuing education, you can be successful in a challenging career.
The Challenges Associated With Being a Social Worker
Staff retention and high turnover rates are critical factors every employer considers when hiring social workers. Unfortunately, social workers often struggle with mental illness, addiction, and coping in general. In recent years, studies have demonstrated some significant implications associated with social work as a career field.
The most common psychiatric diagnoses associated with social work include depression and anxiety. In one study, more than a quarter of respondents reported a history of depression before working in the field, and the numbers increased when social workers were asked if they currently experience depression.
Anxiety also seemed to increase among social workers as well. Chronic stress and depression have physiological symptoms that can impact your physical health as well as your emotional well being. This is just one reason why addressing behavioral and mental health concerns among social workers is critical.
Unfortunately, social workers tend to exhibit lower resilience resulting from emotional exhaustion. Employees who experience fatigue often tend to experience low levels of personal accomplishment. Some social workers come to work each day only to face excessive workloads and depersonalization. Social worker burnout is a real problem.
Coping with Social Work Life
Social work requires that its employees develop healthy coping mechanisms. Self-care is an essential component to being able to maintain a career in this industry.
First, you must learn to understand your personal limitations–and stick to them. Shake up your routine and keep work as interesting as possible.
Next, try to keep track of the positive features of your job. Some social workers maintain a physical or digital file of accomplishments including photos, strong evaluations, and other feedback. You can refer to these documents when you need a morale boost.
Setting goals and developing a plan to live up to them is pertinent to keeping morale up. Set long-term goals backed up by short-term goals to help you hit milestones along the way.
One of the most important ways to cope with a difficult job of any kind is to establish a support system. Being able to discuss important issues with family members or friends is vital. When you need help, do not be afraid to ask for it or to connect with your emotions.
Social worker continuing education cannot prevent workplace stress as a whole, but it can certainly help you understand your job better. The more you understand about your career, the less stress it is likely to place on you. With social work courses, you can stay on top of industry trends and learn new strategies for coping.