Life Outside of Work

Balancing both work and life together is vital to wellness. Below are some basic self-care considerations:

  • Getting adequate sleep and rest
  • Taking time to exercise and play
  • Scheduling time to shop, prepare food, and cook
  • Staying active socially with family and friends
  • Devoting time to religious and/or spiritual commitments
  • Incorporating pleasurable activities, such as volunteering, visiting with animals, and spending time outdoors

These self-care suggestions are not new concepts, yet they are complicated for most people to implement into daily life. While many talk about wellness, the demands of work and family life often disregard the need for prioritizing the care for oneself and can be perceived as “selfish.” Somewhere between selfish and selfless is self-preservation. Perhaps this is a continuum of care that is personal and can be adjusted for each individual. Conceptualizing a personal plan for wellness and self-care is something that can be facilitated with a mental health professional or an occupational therapist.

Self-assessment is an important part of determining what changes are needed for the future. To follow are examples of areas to consider:

  • Assess if the current job is new or long-term, and whether your capacity and function are up to par.
  • Assess changes in function, such as changes in cognition, gait, and levels of fatigue; also ask those close to you to assess any changes they have observed.
  • Examine how work and home activities are progressing; what you plan and what might actually be happening may be two different things, and in some cases, this reality can be painful, frustrating, or conversely, a relief.
  • Consider if your own identity is related to your roles at work, and if these roles are difficult for you to change; this can sometimes lead to poor decision-making.
  • Be aware of your inner dialogue and self-talk; self-compassion and being kind to oneself can decrease the discomfort that can accompany change.

Review your history of coping with discomfort and the unexpected. If unhealthy coping habits were supportive in the past – such as using alcohol, drugs, smoking, overeating, or social isolation – consider alternative support options for the future. Simplify the activities and issues you can control in your life to reserve energy for more important things.

Finances are another important part of determining what changes are needed for the future. Rent or a mortgage as well as the expenses of daily life, must all be figured into the equation. Paying off debt, and possibly college loans, may also be a part of your financial goals. Another significant responsibility is if you are supporting other family members, such as young children, young adults (possibly with college expenses), and elderly parents; when other people are depending on you, this can greatly limit your options for changes in employment.

When considering finances, you will want to look at your earning potential in the coming years, and if applicable, the age when you may anticipate going on disability. You’ll also want to look at your long-term goals, the time when you plan to retire, and other ways that you may be able to earn money. If possible, downsizing or cutting back, as well as changing one’s lifestyle, may be necessary for your future financial security.

Financial wellness is also personal. Have your dreams been put on hold? At different times in life, aspirations and goals might need to be reassessed. Knowing that stress and chronic illness are not a good match, re-evaluating the needs and wants of financial obligations can shed some light on what is essential moving forward.

Not all people in the workforce are able to leave when it is determined that a current job is no longer a good match. However, resources are available that can help guide workers to other available industries and sometimes assist with training for new skills. Please see the resource section at the end of this booklet for more information about possible career counseling, changes, and training.

Ultimately, you will want to determine what matters most in your own personal circumstances. Consider your age and stage of life along with your expectations for personal accomplishments. Reassess your lifestyle in terms of quality of life and determine if you spend enough time with people who add joy and enhance your quality of life.

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