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Aid Work & Work/Life Balance
by
Dr. Rick Williamson
on
August 30, 2012
|

 photo credit | Tristam Sparks

As a psychologist to aid workers, I am a big believer in self-care and work/life balance. Honoring your emotional, spiritual and physical health is key to sustaining long-term vitality and effectiveness. Therefore, setting limits on your work hours is absolutely necessary! However, for many of you this is a huge personal challenge. You worry about the fall-out between you and your coworkers were you to do this. “If I embrace healthy work limits, my coworkers will resent having to pick up my slack.” Unfortunately, this may be partly correct. Attempts to incorporate a healthy work/life balance can indeed elicit some resentment from coworkers to whom leftover work may shift. This workload increase can raise their stress. Consequently, the camaraderie you share can temporarily diminish. The temptation to abort your self-care is often highest during this point in time. However, you must resist this temptation! Instead, commit to maintaining your balanced work/life approach for at least 6 weeks. After which, you may find an increase in personal and team productivity.  We all tend to adjust to new behavior patterns in about 6 weeks. Thus, your coworkers will ultimately acclimate to any changes in their work demands and routines. The goal however is that your coworkers see your healthy example and become proactive with their own self-care.The long-term consequence of this would be a cultural shift in aid work away from chronic stress and burnout; and towards emotional vitality. But, it all begins with individuals who understand the real challenges involved in self-care and are tough enough to commit to the process. Self-care requires tremendous fortitude.

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