3 Best Ways A Social Worker Can Find Work-Life Harmony

The work of social workers is extremely arduous; most of their work involves traveling and meeting people and dealing with a whirlwind of emotionally tiring situations. While there is no denying that social workers’ job is all about helping others lessening their pain, the altruistic nature of their work may make them ignore their own comfort and compel them to put in the extra effort. But dedicating too much time to this kind of emotionally taxing work can lead to burnout due to physical and mental exhaustion.

Signs That You Have a Poor Work-Life Balance

Most social workers do not realize that they are burnt out or exhausted to the point of no recovery. The role and tasks of a social worker can be so overwhelming that you may neglect yourself. However, the human body will show signs of stress and exhaustion. Do not forget to listen to your body and heart. 

It is okay to feel stressed out once in a while. If you are experiencing the following signs too often, it is a blaring sign that you need to take things slow. 

  • Over or undereating
  • Not being able to sleep. Or feeling tired even after sleeping for long hours
  • Having disturbed sleep or having nightmares
  • Feeling irritated and annoyed at the smallest of things
  • Falling sick more than usual
  • Being more forgetful

Importance Of Work-Life Harmony For Social Workers

Social workers often feel they don’t get enough opportunities to strike a work-life balance. They are always short on time to fit in their personal activities, likings, and moods. So, it is often stressful for them to give time to their family and kids, attend family gatherings; or perhaps just taking out time for basking under the sun is too much to ask for. But, the reality is if you are not healthy, you cannot help others efficiently; an aching body won’t let you concentrate on your work.

The heavy workload makes you juggle family and work responsibilities like hot potatoes that you are trying to balance on your palms. And just when you think it is limited to emotional stress only, a reality about its detrimental impacts on your health dawns upon you.

There is a strong relationship between emotional and physical wellbeing. Too much stress and burnout can impact your immune system; your body becomes more susceptible to contracting viruses and infections. So managing your work-life means your mind is at ease, and your body is in the healthiest state.

Managing work-life balance is more critical when you are simultaneously managing various activities. For instance, Many social workers enrolled in CSWE accredited online MSW programs often complain about developing a routine to adequately manage their education, work, and other family engagements. For them, managing life with work is a perpetual struggle.

As a social worker, if you fail to balance all your undertakings, your life can pretty much be in shambles. At some point, you will give up everything, leave your profession, or be under constant pressure. If you don’t want such a life, here is how you can find work-life harmony in your life.

1. Take An Annual Leave When You Get One

You might think what a week spent away from the stress of the work will do. But this might be the break that you need too bad even to realize. Taking some time off, spending it with family or friends, visiting a beautiful place can relieve the buildup of stress and prepare you for the rest of the year and challenges at work. Are you worried about getting behind in your work and stressing about who will perform it? Remember, work never stops.

Communicate to your workplace that you need this break to perform better at work and in your personal life as well. Setting and communicating your needs and boundaries is one of the most important soft skills that you will require. Social work requires a lot of compassion and you cannot pour from an empty cup. So to keep your energy charged, set and communicate a time period during the year when you will completely disconnect work. 

If you are on vacation to refuel yourself, many others can temporarily take over your responsibilities. You have to plan your leave to ensure the presence of a substitute to work on your behalf. After working for years, we can assume that social workers can make such a relationship with their colleagues.

2. Take Some Time Out For Yourself Every Week

 a woman reading a book by the sea

Even if you have the busiest schedule, you still need to ensure your health and wellbeing. Schedule some time for yourself every week. You can spend time with friends, curl up in bed, or shop your heart out. Some people report spending this time going for a run, doing late-night yoga, or taking their baby from school and having a few scoops of ice cream. Make sure you are not distracted during this break. Block out some time and completely unplug from other responsibilities so that you can rest to the fullest. 

Prioritizing yourself also means dedicating some quality time to relationships that enhance your life. Most of the time we are multi-tasking and are not able to give the hundred percent to them. Spending time with loved ones can be quite therapeutic. You will enjoy unplugging from all other distractions and your loved ones will also appreciate you for making them a priority. You do not have to necessarily spend this time with them physically. You can also call them. 

All in all, it is about what you want, don’t complicate matters and just try to feel peace creeping into your whole body and mind. This small dose of energy is often enough to prepare for the upcoming week. If you keep ignoring yourself, the stress becomes a permanent dweller inside your body, worsening matters.

3. Don’t Compromise Your Sleep

 a woman sleeping in bed

Are you getting enough sleep? We might know the answer to this question already, but it won’t hurt to say that even when you feel it impossible to get enough sleep, make it an obligation to do so. It’s one thing you should never compromise. If you’re sleep-deprived, your mind won’t let you be the best version of yourself, and it will hinder your ability to perform. Consistent sleep deprivation can also lead to chronic conditions such as diabetes. Other symptoms of sleep deprivation are lack of tolerance, indecisiveness, mood swings, memory loss, and quick temper.

Social workers need to realize that even sacrificing their sleep won’t allow them to accomplish different milestones in their work. When your workload increases, your performance decreases. Social workers work in precarious and sensitive situations, errors in judgment and an inability to think can result in grave problems or mean a matter of life and death for others.


Social work is stressful; often, it becomes impossible to get rest, do what you like to do, or just spend some time with your family. But this does not mean you won’t make the utmost effort to strike a work-life balance in your life.

There is a lot of pressure to make a complete 180-degree change in your life. When you are not able to sustain the new habits, it can be demotivating. 

To adopt healthier behaviors, start small. Build one new habit at a time. Give it at least a month to develop and then you can focus on building another new habit. This way the change is more sustainable. The habits will stick with you even when you are not at your highest motivation level.  If you struggle, keeping the ways mentioned above in your mind will make you give them a second thought. Doing things you like to do is the only way to refuel your body and mind for more stressful work.