Self Help Life - PTSD: National Center for PTSD
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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Life Balance Strategies

Re-establishing work-life balance is a process often used by providers to reduce stress.90,96 Work-family conflict has been found to be associated with increased emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, as well as a lowered sense of personal accomplishment.38

Life balance involves creating a healthy pace as well as a diversity of work and leisure activities.90 Here are a few strategies that may be helpful in achieving work-life balance:

  • Monitor work demands to prevent being overwhelmed, while also ensuring involvement with work activities that build a positive sense of accomplishment.
  • Engage in regular self-reflection and adjustment of work demands to ensure that work tasks are aligned with your interests, strengths, and capacity.
  • Determine your need for resources, as well as the availability of resources, and make efforts to use them effectively. This might include discussing case-load ratio and flexibility at work with your supervisors or managers.97
  • Be proactive in time management.34
  • Use active cognitive strategies to gain a constructive perspective on your work and set appropriate boundaries.38
  • Make efforts to construct a set of practices that enable you to move from being attuned to client experiences of suffering to the emotionally lighter and practicality-oriented nature of everyday interactions.2
  • Find ways to deal with the existential questions that may arise from this work, such as accepting and working with mortality of patients and of oneself, working with the issue of loneliness and helplessness, and the necessity of working actively to create and maintain a rewarding and meaningful personal life.2
Additionally, building in simple recovery activities, such as social activities (e.g., having dinner with friends), low-effort activities (e.g., reading, listening to music, surfing on the internet), and physical activities (e.g., sport, exercise, dancing) may foster relaxation and psychological detachment from work, which may, in turn, facilitate next day's work engagement.98,99 Fitting in activities throughout the day can make a big difference in your overall stress level. For example, you could schedule lunch with a colleague/friend, take 5 minutes between appointments to practice slowed breathing, take a yoga/exercise class, or schedule a reminder in your phone or calendar to do a 5-minute stretching or strength exercise.

PTSD Information Voice Mail: (802) 296-6300
Email: ncptsd@va.gov
Also see: VA Mental Health