Physical Wellness & Employment: Just Right Together

As a practitioner it is important that we focus on our own physical wellness. Though work is exciting and brings a pay check it can also be stressful, challenging, and difficult to meet the changing demands of our funders and person served. Too often we neglect our own self-care in pursuit of serving others. The following are some suggestions that staff may consider personally and to share with individuals seeking employment:

Be sure to get enough sleep at night:  Sleep is critical for being alert and attentive to support people in their employment efforts. Tending to our sleep hygiene give us energy to meet with employers, do job development and rapid job search.

 Prepare healthy meals:  Healthy meals can go along ways instead of catching fast food on the run.  Bringing healthy lunches and snacks several days a week can remind us about taking needed lunch breaks to refresh the mind and body.

 Relaxation and Stress Management:  Planning weekly distressing activities outside of work whether its, yoga, walking, running, swimming, and or weights are important to balance job tasks and responsibilities.  When I have not balanced physical health needs my work performance suffers, I’m easily frustrated, and I do not enjoy my work; unless, I am demonstrating self-care practices. 

 Role model:  As I actively participate in self-care practices I feel much better about the good work I’m doing including meeting the demands of the people I serve and supervisor. Many of these self-care practices are important to share with the people we are helping to get a job.  As a practitioner we are role modeling self-care practices to help people we support.  An additional benefit is that we may also feel better about the work we are doing and feel physically well.

I welcome you to share the self-care practices you are using for your own physical wellness.

11 responses to “Physical Wellness & Employment: Just Right Together

  1. For three years now I have been waking up at 6am every morning. I exercise for one solid hour mixing cardio and core exercises. After the morning routine I begin my day. When I miss two days of this rudimented routine I begin to feel a little agitation. I’m less iritable when I maintain my physical wellness and my performance increases at school and work.

    • George H. Brice, Jr.

      Congratulations on the longevity of your physical activity routine! These benefits of helping with mood, anxiousness, roles as a student and worker are so important. I also appreciate your self-assessment and insights about how you feel when you get out of routine. Please share about the steps (process) that motivated your terrific physical activity routine. Can be helpful information to our readers.

  2. The points that are listed above are essential notions on how to stay effective and productive practitioners. It is only natural to become so wrapped up in helping others that we may lose insight on what is best for ourselves. The amount of sleep we get every night is impactful and may in fact alter how we go about the rest of our day. Personally, I know that I need at least 6 hours of sleep every night in order for me to function to the best of my abilities. My creativity and thoughts process is limited when I sleep for fewer hours and irritability is an often mood that I experience due to the fatigue state that I am currently in. Practitioners cannot help consumers to their fullest potential if they are often faced with feelings of exhaustion.

    • George H. Brice, Jr.

      Hi Sabrina,

      Sleep is critical for our own wellness, social interactions, and when providing services to the people we serve. Good that you know what you experience when you don’t get your 6 hours of sleep. For example, the Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) by Mary Ellen Copeland is a positive tool and resource http://www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/ WRAP is a simple but valued plan to help keep us well. Many practitioners work two jobs along with other responsibilities so sleep and overall health is a delicate balance. As providers something to consider when we are not feeling our best on the job is to “orient” the person we are working with and colleagues by remarking that I am feeling a bit tired today so I may ask you to repeat some things more than usual, because I value what you have to say. Could help if we inadvertently yawn and demonstrates that we are “human” especially among the people we serve. We do want to develop a sleep routine to help us to be mentally/emotionally “in the moment” in all our interactions with people. In addition, I believe we need to support and advocate for increased opportunities for people to live independently. Too many of the people we serve live in large congregate settings where it is difficult to get quality sleep and focus on meaningful and purposeful recovery goals. Thank you- I’m sure our readers can identify.

      What individual, program/organizational, and or system steps can we take to improve the sleep among person served?

      George

  3. Thank you for highlighting this subject. This is a great topic and one that can easily be neglected; our own physical health and wellness. I know for myself when my day is busy and I have a list of tasks to be completed it is difficult to find time to practice good self-care. I would start my day with a large cup of coffee, grab a quick lunch, and found it easier to go to a drive through or pick-up take out on the way home. This is beneficial in the short-term, satisfies hunger and saves time, but has had negative long-term effects such as weight gain and high cholesterol. Because of these factors and always feeling lethargic, I decided four months ago I was going to begin to focus on making healthier lifestyle choices.
    Instead of beginning my day with a large cup of coffee I have cut that in half. I also started exercising five or six mornings a week. This has really helped me to start my day focused on being healthy. When I am finished with my exercise routine I make myself a breakfast smoothie. It is really very simple, only takes a few minutes, is a great way to add fruit and vegetables to your diet, and there are numerous recipes available online. Having a nutritious breakfast has helped me to make better food selections throughout the day as well.
    These lifestyle changes have bought about numerous benefits in a short amount of time. Not only have I lost a few pounds but I definitely have more energy and overall feel more content and less stressed. I am able to provide better services to the persons I am working with and as you mentioned, am a better role-model. Some of the clients have noticed the changes I have made (especially when I switched from soda to sparkling water) and this has opened the door to great conversations about nutrition and physical wellness.

    • Brice Jr., George

      Hi Kristin,

      Your message of role modeling is inspirational. Im glad that you feel good about your success. Too often we minimize our efforts and achievements in various areas of our lives. Creating a routine that includes nutrition and physical activity is challenging and rewarding. You made the commitment that you deserved better which helps the people you work with. Our lives get so busy resulting in an over reliance on seemingly convenient fast food. Many of us should be more selective by meal planning and preparing some meals rather than consistently having fast food. Congratulations on stopping soda! I havent had a soda in 3 years as of April. I drink mostly plain water and flavored water. I look forward to making my own smoothies- periodically I buy them. Keep up the good work!

      What is something that you have stopped, cut down on, or newly added to improve your health?

      George

      ________________________________________

      • George H. Brice, Jr.

        Hi Kristin,

        Your message of role modeling is inspirational. I’m glad that you feel good about your success. Too often we minimize our efforts and achievements in various areas of our lives. Creating a routine that includes nutrition and physical activity is challenging and rewarding. You made the “commitment” that you deserved better which helps the people you work with. Our lives get so busy resulting in an over reliance on seemingly convenient fast food. Many of us should be more selective by meal planning and preparing some meals rather than consistently having fast food. Congratulations on stopping soda! I haven’t had a soda in 3 years as of April. I drink mostly plain water and flavored water. I look forward to making my own smoothies- periodically I buy them. Keep up the good work!

        What is something that you have stopped, cut down on, or newly added to improve your health?

        George

  4. Physical wellness is an essential component of obtaining and maintaining employment. Without the physical capacity to fulfill one’s daily duties; productivity and efficiency falters. If we do not take care of our health then we are not effective as practitioners as a result. After all, how can we expect to help someone achieve wellness and employment if we, ourselves, are not sound in body and mind? This is precisely why I agree that relaxation and stress management is crucial in the mental health field because stressors may impede on a practitioner’s ability to work and a consumer’s ability to manage their illness.
    In addition, I concur that as role models we are exemplifying self-care practices through our behavior. Role modeling can be a good way to teach individuals with mental illness how to function and thrive in the workplace by living a balanced lifestyle. It has been shown that “individuals with higher self-ratings of physical health functioning [are] more likely to be employed” than those with lower physical health (Goldberg et.al, 2008). Therefore; we must do our best to instill knowledge of healthy self-care practices to the people we serve so that they may succeed in their employment endeavors.
    References
    Goldberg, R. W., Hackman, A., Medoff, D. R., Brown, C., Fang, L., Dickerson, F., & … Dixon,
    L. (2008). Physical Wellness and Employment Status Among Adults with Serious Mental Illness. Community Mental Health Journal, 44(4), 245-251. doi:10.1007/s10597-008-9124-0

    • George H. Brice, Jr.

      Hi Veronica,

      I agree that physical wellness and self-care practices are keys for both providers and the people we serve. Wellness is a cornerstone to successful employment especially for service recipients living with mental illness and or addiction. This is a population of people who are vastly unemployed, underemployed, and not pursuing work for a litany of reasons including poor health. Many of the people we serve may not have initially the mental, emotional or physical stamina to walk a reasonable distance and negotiate public transportation to get to work. Many people living with serious mental illness (SMI) are dying 25 years younger than the average citizen from preventable health conditions. This is a link http://www.dsamh.utah.gov/docs/mortality-morbidity_nasmhpd.pdf addressing this egregious issue. I am glad that your studies provide opportunity to value self-care practices that are so needed to balance work and one’s personal life. Very helpful remarks- thank you!

      Please share accountability strategies/plans that have helped you get in a routine of improving your health?

      George

  5. I agree that sometimes we are so busy with helping others and trying to balance all the activities that we have going on throughout The day. Especially for a student who is juggling a multiple of things, we forget to take care of our health, both physically and mentally. Things like eating foods that will keep us going strong throughout the day rather than a small fast meal that leaves us feeling hungry within the next half hour. Getting enough sleep so that our mind can process the day and our Immune system can keep up. Simple things as this can make a big difference In how we perform at work and throughout the day. What I find very helpful is going to the fun or getting any kind of physical workout into my day. When I am able to do this, I feel that I am able to focus better in my classes and school.

  6. This post makes great highlights on various aspects of wellness we as practitioners should do well to be effective in our work. For a little over a year now between work, interning, and classes I have setup a routine of packing a lunch at least 3 days of the week (5 days a week I am out). Although it may take a little more time to arrange for this it leaves me with much healthier dieting options. Another positive aspect of packing lunches is the economical part. Preparing my own meal will always be cheaper than always getting food while out leaving me less stressed financially. I notice that I generally have a better mood on the weeks I was able to pack lunches consistently versus weeks where I generally ate fast food throughout the week putting me in a lower mood.

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