Recognizing the importance of self-care

Stressed young woman

– By Lori A. Jazvac and Ksenia Lazoukova –

As career development professionals (CDPs), we play a crucial role in guiding individuals through their career journeys. However, job demands can sometimes impact our well-being.

A holistic approach to wellness is beneficial and crucial for CDPs to navigate their demanding roles while maintaining wellness. As career development professionals, we are in a helping, client-centred field. Our work is focused on output—dedicating our time, expertise, and energy to supporting our clients through career and employment successes, changes, and challenges. Recognizing the importance of self-care in this context is a testament to our value and integral role in the field.

When focused on giving, supporting, coaching, mentoring, teaching, or counselling, we are at risk of overwhelm and, in turn, burnout. According to Psychology Today, burnout refers to emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion from prolonged or repeated stress. Taking care of our wellness is part of our responsibility to our clients. We can only support others when we take care of ourselves and have the capacity to give and be patient and professional.

Here are ten crucial strategies specifically designed for career development professionals to prevent burnout:

  1. Set Clear Boundaries: Establish and communicate clear work-life boundaries. Follow a defined work schedule to avoid overwork.
  2. Practice Self-Compassion: CDPs often provide support and guidance to others but must also show kindness and understanding toward themselves. Self-compassion involves treating oneself with the same care and empathy they offer to their clients.
  3. Set Realistic Expectations: CDPs should acknowledge their limitations and set realistic expectations.
  4. Prioritize Tasks: Use prioritization techniques, like the Eisenhower Matrix, a popular and effective task management tool, to manage tasks by urgency and importance, reducing unnecessary stress.
  5. Delegate Responsibilities: Share tasks with colleagues or team members to avoid burnout and foster a collaborative work environment.
  6. Practice Mindfulness & Self-Care: Incorporate mindfulness exercises into your daily routine to stay present and reduce anxiety about future tasks. Putting self-care at the forefront is vital for preventing burnout and maintaining well-being.
  7. Regular Breaks: Take short breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge, stepping away from the workspace to clear your mind. As CDPs, we must encourage each other to take regular daily breaks to relax and recharge. Short breaks between client sessions or tasks can help prevent mental fatigue and improve focus and productivity.
  8. Seek Support: Connecting and networking with other CDPs or professionals in related fields can provide valuable support and understanding. Peer support groups or networks allow CDPs to share experiences, exchange ideas, and offer each other encouragement and inspiration. This sense of community and support is crucial in preventing burnout and maintaining our well-being.
  9. Continual Learning and Development: Staying updated on the latest trends, research, and best practices in career development can foster job satisfaction and effectiveness. Investing in professional development activities such as workshops, conferences, or online courses can reignite passion and motivation for the job, personal growth, and well-being. Immersing oneself in self-directed learning is a more flexible way to enhance problem-solving and creativity. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and its various tools, career professionals can streamline workflows, innovate resources, and navigate caseloads better.
  10. Practice Stress Management Techniques: CDPs can benefit from incorporating stress management techniques into daily routines. For instance, mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, physical activity, and hobbies are great ways to reduce stress and promote wellness.

CPC’s Work-Life Coaching course focuses on the various domains of wellness for our clients. It’s essential to use self-care, leveraging the same principles we promote. The seven domains of wellness that can help alleviate burnout include:

  1. Physical Wellness: Regular physical activity and proper nutrition. Even short breaks for stretching or a quick walk can help reduce stress and improve focus. Prioritize adequate sleep to allow your body and mind to recover and restore from daily stresses and routine or circadian rhythm shifts.
  2. Emotional Wellness: Seek professional support, counselling, coaching, and guidance from colleagues, friends or family. Reflect on your work and life goals. Reassess and realign your daily activities with your values and objectives.
  3. Intellectual Wellness: Stay curious and pursue continuous learning. Focusing on learning new skills and competencies will help our brains focus on new and exciting things, keep our minds engaged, and build confidence from achieving new milestones, both big and small.
  4. Social Wellness: Build and nurture a supportive community with friends, family, and peers. Physically, being around the people we care about will recharge our internal batteries. Networking events, sharing a coffee, or calling a peer to check in can help us feel connected and supported. Simply receiving validation from a peer, learning new coping strategies, or recognizing the commonality of experience would help us feel that we are not alone in our struggles.
  5. Occupational Wellness: Integrate your work time with your time off in a way that best supports you and your family. Mark your calendar with time off, breaks, lunch walks, or other activities to have a sense of balance and clear boundaries between work and personal life. Time management techniques and physically leaving the workspace and devices can help us feel more in control of our work and life.
  6. Spiritual Wellness: Taking time to go inwardly for self-awareness, reflection, journalling, gratitude practice, meditation, or prayer would help us stay grounded and connected to the world. It can also provide a sense of fulfillment and direction, which is especially vital in times of stress.
  7. Environmental Wellness: Create a workspace that is comfortable, aesthetically pleasing to the senses, and encourages creativity and productivity. Check your lighting and ergonomic workstations, and keep your workspace clean and tidy to maintain your daily well-being.

The key takeaway: We are in it for a long haul, so we must protect ourselves by setting boundaries, practicing mindfulness, and actively seeking wellness tools. Otherwise, we can burn out.

By implementing these strategies, career development professionals can more efficiently navigate demanding roles while prioritizing their well-being. This prevents burnout and fuels greater job satisfaction and effectiveness in supporting our clients’ career journeys. Remember, we are in it for the long haul, and these strategies are our tools for a sustainable and fulfilling career.

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