Mark Topps
December 17, 2021

Mark Topps

Achieving a work-life balance at Christmas

Part of our ‘Let’s talk about…’ mental health and wellbeing series

As much as we’d love to be spending time with our families this Christmas, we all know social care is a 24/7 role. Thankfully, most of us will have some time off over the festive period, and it’s important that this is protected.

So, what can we do to strike a balance between supporting others and taking time for ourselves and our loved ones?

My advice

Don’t reply to emails and messages

COVID has moved us into a world of digitalisation, where Teams chats, Zoom meetings, emails etc. are all so accessible. But this has created a blurred line when it comes to work-life balance, especially for anyone working from home.

I know it’s easier said than done, and I feel hypocritical for recommending this because I’m terrible for doing it myself, but try not to let work creep into your personal life. You may think it’s just a quick flick through emails or a reply to a message, but before you know it, minutes turn in hours and you’re back into work mode, instead of:

  • Taking time for yourself
  • Spending time with your family or friends
  • Doing things that you enjoy
  • Relaxing and unwinding.

It’s important to remember that when you finish your working day you have to disconnect and unwind.

Book annual leave/time off

To ensure that rotas can be covered and the needs of those we support can be met, many social care providers have a ‘no annual leave protocol’ throughout December and in the New Year. This can inevitably have a big impact on our wellbeing and mental health.

My advice would be to take time off to recover in January – after all, you need to look after yourself just as much as those in your care.

January isn’t the most exciting month, especially when the reality of how much has been spent at Christmas sinks in! But, try to have things organised for your days off, to give you something to look forward to and plan towards. There are also loads of activities you can do for free that you can get the whole family involved in.

When you’re away from work, be sure to set an out of office message to let people know who to contact whilst you’re away or when to expect a reply. I’ve seen more out of office emails this year than ever before, which is amazing!

“Take time off to recover in January – after all, you need to look after yourself just as much as those in your care.”

Prioritise tasks

I think we can all appreciate how manic Christmas can be, especially when something happens outside of our control. But, trying to stay on top of things we have influence over, both work-related and personal, can make this much more manageable.

For work, I’d definitely start by prioritising tasks and delegating things that aren’t a high priority to members of your team. This will ensure you’re not overloading yourself and that you get everything done within a set timeframe.

Remember, your team are your biggest asset, so draw on their skills and expertise.

In your personal life, you can practise the same skills, asking family members and loved ones to support you with buying gifts, wrapping presents, writing cards and even cooking dinner!

It will be January before you know it!

I know if you’re like me, you’ll be reading this thinking these are great ideas but in reality, they’re much harder to implement – and you’re right.

But please do make time for yourself and book some well-deserved holiday in January to give you time to recover and recoup.

Above all, enjoy the festive build-up, pop on some seasonal songs, wear that Christmas jumper and embrace the time of the year, acknowledging that we’re all about to have a crazy busy December.

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