Mark topps care column on wellbeing at work
Mark Topps
June 9, 2021

Mark Topps

Well-Being, Personal Time and Burnout

I am really conscious at the moment of the number of people, both frontline staff and those within management teams, highlighting either how they haven’t had a break since the pandemic and/or how they are close to giving up.

Firstly, I want to just say to everyone, from the cleaners, the cooks, the support staff, to management and everyone working within social care… thank you! Over the last 16 months, you have battled through this pandemic and we are slowly coming out the other side. You deserve the recognition and the praise for the fantastic jobs you are doing day in, day out and putting the needs of others in front of your own.

Taking time out for yourself

However, it is vitally important that you take time for yourself because if you have poor physical and/or mental health, how will you continue to support those that you care for, those staff that you manage and the people that rely on you?

I am writing this despite the fact that I have not taken time off for myself in 16 months. I changed roles towards the end of the pandemic and when I reflect back, I was so close to burnout but I just didn’t see it at the time.

So, I urge you, if you are reading this, finish this column, then go and find your diary and book two days off, just for you. Perhaps a Friday and a Monday and have a long weekend, or the middle of the week, whatever works for you!

Whilst you are off, take time to do the things you enjoy, whether that be reading a book, gardening, shopping or even just chilling on the sofa watching a film. The importance of time away from the workplace with no distractions is so important as is the chance to unwind and find calmness and peace (unless of course, you have three children like I do!)

The importance of a work-life balance

When you enter the workplace after that time off or if you are looking for a new role, please make sure that you make work-life balance a vital part of your role.

 My new job gives me a good work-life balance and I cannot stress enough the impact this has had, both on my physical and my mental health. I am so glad to have the chance to spend much needed time with family and friends and do the things that I forgot I loved doing and to just have time for me.

A work-life balance can help to reduce stress which in the long run prevents burnout. I want you to ask yourself, how many times have you heard or seen someone is off work with ‘stress’? It is the most common health issue in the workplace and can lead to many other physical health issues such as aches, pains, poor mental health, depression, anxiety, heart problems and can play havoc with your digestion.

How to achieve a work-life balance

One question I am often asked when I tell others how much better I feel having a work-life balance is how did you do it, or what does that look like? The simple answer is I did it for me and more importantly for my family. The second answer is that it looks like whatever you want it to look like. There isn’t a one size fits all model.

Your work-life balance could be you working four days a week or it could be making sure you have uninterrupted lunch breaks. It could even be that the company you work for has the same vision and values as you or it may just be something as big as you want a job that compliments your personal life. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that we value the time we have as we don’t know what is around the corner!

Support is key

I often hear from managers about how they support others but don’t feel they have the support for themselves and I cannot reiterate how important it is for everyone to have support. I would advise that if you feel unsupported that you contact your line manager and ask for support. Be brave and be honest and the support will come.

Talking to someone means the problem is halved (remember that famous saying – a problem shared is a problem halved!) and allows others to support you. I’ve popped in some top tips below for recognising burnout and some of the benefits of taking time out for yourself.

Topps’ Tips for recognising poor mental health:

– Loss of appetite

– Not sleeping

– Overthinking

– Anxiety

– Depression

– Being withdrawn

Topps’ Tips for the positives of good wellbeing:

– Being able to express and feel emotions

– Improved confidence

– Positive self-esteem

– Having good relationships with others

– Enjoying life around you

– Able to cope with stress

– Being able to adapt to change

If you would like to speak to me further about any aspect of this column, or if you want support with finding your work-life balance, then please reach out to me.