How to Maintain a Positive Work-Life Balance
Having the ideal work-life balance feels unattainable for many busy physical therapists. With PT burnout on the rise, it’s important to reflect and ask yourself, “Am I getting what I want from my career and personal life?” And while striving for perfection is an exercise in futility, PTs can make incremental moves in their daily routine to create separation between work and personal life.
So, what works best for PTs trying to find balance?
In this article, you’ll learn the 8 most effective ways to shake things up and boost your quality of life as a PT and practice owner.
1. Continue Your Education
Physical therapists often feel burned out when they engage in the same routines every day. And while state-mandated CEUs are a great way to grow, they don’t address the need PTs have outside of physical therapy.
Grabbing another degree is probably out of the question, but you don’t need a motive to take interesting extra-curricular classes. Enrolling in acting, photography or fitness can boost creativity and give you a more diverse, abstract skillset.
2. Take a Vacation
Who doesn’t love a nice sun-filled beach vacation? Getting away from the office (especially into nature) is an excellent way to refresh and recharge. One study by Gump and Matthews shows that not taking vacations is associated with illness and even premature death.
So how long is the perfect vacation?
According to SpringerLink, after eight days, the health and wellness effects of vacation start to wear off. So, charge up that PTO but don’t blow it all on one big holiday! In fact, taking a weekend trip out of town is the perfect getaway for PTs looking for a little R&R.
3. Connect with Co-Workers
Work doesn’t feel like work when there’s a bond beyond the surface-level conversation. And while connecting with coworkers should be handled with care, it’s healthy to spend time outside the office with a group of peers. Try to explore fun hobbies, fitness, or even the local bar for a cold beer.
If hanging out outside of work isn’t a good fit, start a meaningful conversation. Ask coworkers out to lunch and connect with them through dialogue that doesn’t include work.
4. Ask for Help
While asking for help is more common for newer PTs (or new hires), it’s an excellent way for anyone to bond with a coworker and simultaneously learn something new. The challenge is mustering up the courage in the first place—but those who ask, shall receive.
Getting a helping hand can supercharge your relationships—as people want to feel needed—and facilitate professional development in the clinic. It will open doors into others’ routines and quirks, giving you excellent professional and personal insight.
5. Get Active
Physical therapists with a consistent fitness routine see tremendous benefits, including lower stress levels, quicker thinking, better concentration, and more creativity. In fact, studies show that even a small commitment to fitness will bolster job performance while helping PTs feel happier, healthier, and more confident.
6. Keep Work Conversations Positive
Following the same routine day in and day out can have advantages: predictability and stability in your professional life. However, this leads many PTs to get restless in their roles and hungry for the next challenge. Some of the side effects include constant negativity—namely complaining to coworkers or partners—about different facets of the job.
These negative conversations are often amplified by multiple people in the workplace who feel the same way. Complaining about work rather than finding solutions to problems is a common issue in just about every industry. The key is to recognize this behavior early, make positive comments, and remove yourself from the hostile rhetoric altogether.
7. Network with Experienced PTs
Being happy outside of work often involves learning and growing in your current role, which is why prudent PTs expand their knowledge by networking with accomplished professionals.
There are many ways to grow your network, including:
- Reaching out on LinkedIn
- Talking with practice owners and PTs
- Traveling to PT-related conferences
- Attending virtual PT webinars
- And any other activities that put you in front of experts
Basically, keep your ear to the ground and be inquisitive—especially when it comes to expanding the scope of your practice. Drill into the hottest physical therapy trends to expand your offerings and education.
8. Start a New Hobby
Before social media and the internet were prominent, people had fewer distractions outside of the workplace. Starting a new hobby is a great way to get people off Netflix and into something wholesome.
Think back and analyze your favorite guilty pleasures; what did you love as a kid you could revisit in adulthood? Focus on hobbies that can help you clear your mind from work and put it into whatever you’re doing. Many people will try their hand at a musical instrument or a craft like woodworking to pass the time. Aside from startup costs, your education will likely be free as YouTube has millions of hours of lessons, commentary and expert opinions to point hobby-seekers in the right direction.
The Bottom Line
PTs should keep an open mind when attempting to find the perfect work-life balance. Everyone is different and responds better to a personalized approach. But surely, checking off a few items on this list will help you define find what’s important—whether that means focusing more or less on your career.
Ask yourself, are you professionally or personally out of balance? What activities could you incorporate that would put you back in sync?