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Five ways to ensure your personal life doesn't impact your professional life as a mental health professional

As a mental health professional, you are dealing with patients who may have problems varying from depression, to bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. They may be addicted to alcohol or have a drug abuse problem. They may have been victims of abuse or witness to it. These are all problems any professional will grapple with – all the more reason that your own personal life needs to be positive and supportive so that you can do your job well. Here are five ways to ensure your personal life doesn’t impact your professional life negatively:

Involve your family in your work, to the extent possible.

There are a lot of issues that will be private, and to be kept between your patients and yourself. But there are plenty of work related stories or issues that you can share at home. Identify those and share with your family so that they understand what your work life is like and can support you adequately.

Make time for your personal life/ Have a good work life balance.

With a job in mental health, carving out “me-time” is always a challenge. But you must take time out from work to bond with your family or friends. You must participate in family events and make the effort to be present at important get-togethers. This way, when you need to give your 200% at work, you don’t feel guilty about missing out on personal stuff.

Do not bring your work home

Needless to say, if you have had a challenging day at work and can’t seem to resolve an issue – be it a patient’s mental health or an organizational issue, don’t take it out on your family. Don’t snap or lose your patience. And don’t physically bring work home either, try to finish it so that your private time is sacrosanct.

Create a support system around you

If you are single or living away from home, you need to have a support system even if you don’t have family in the same city. This may be your friends or your mentor or even a work friend. You need to have an adopted family that you can confide, vent or let loose with. This way your personal life won’t keep impeding at work.

Learn to enjoy life in all its frivolities, and find a hobby!

Often a job in mental health care will absorb your time and energy so fully that disengaging to go watch a stand-up comic or a Bollywood movie may seem frivolous. Engage in it and find a hobby if you can. This will allow you to blow off steam and keep the personal and professional lives at arm’s length.

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