Behavior Analysts Need to Engage in Self-care Too!
“I’ll be right there!” “Mommy will play in a minute.” “I just need to do one more thing.” Sound familiar? Or maybe it’s just me? I find my own behavior is the most difficult for me to change. When starting services with a new client, some of the first things I do is start a motivational system and an activity schedule to structure the session. Why do I have so much trouble implementing these systems for myself?
Our clients are at home all day and families need more assistance than ever. You may be inclined to keep working since you are always home and now your home is where you work. We can always write more programs and make more materials. Our work never ends. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take time for ourselves. We do a great job teaching our clients leisure and self-care skills, but what about ourselves? Yes…even behavior analysts need time for self-care. It is easy to get sucked up in work and keep going.
First, try scheduling time for yourself each day. Those daily activity schedules you teach your clients to follow…try introducing one for yourself. The schedule could include more general activities such as work, chores, family time, me time. You could also try time blocking. Time Finder and other time blocking apps allow you to assign blocks of time each day to specific tasks so you can prioritize your to do list. The app also alerts you to follow the schedule. Genius!
As much as I don’t want to admit this, I do benefit from tangible reinforcement. Especially when it comes to completing chores, I find I need the extra motivation to keep going. The sparkly clean floor isn’t always enough to motivate me to get out the mop. You could reward yourself for following your schedule each day. I am using Fabulous: Motivate Me! But there are plenty out there including: Forest: Stay Focused, Strides: Habit Tracker, and Coach.me. We all need rewards and this way you have a visual and can contingently self-deliver rewards.
Try to set boundaries for yourself. Just because you are working from home, and you are currently always home, doesn’t mean you need to always be working. Set a time you will stop responding to emails, text, calls, etc. Try to have time where you are 100% off the clock. Put your phone in a locked box and give your significant other the key. It may also help to pick a spot for your office. Pick a location that you can just do work in. That means when you leave the spot…no work!
Now we talked about prompting you to engage in self-care. Now let’s discuss some ideas for self-care while stuck in the house. We are now leading a virtual life. Think about activities you typically do, and try to make it work at home. There are endless possibilities. Instead of meeting your friends for lunch, try a virtual lunch. Houseparty app allows you to play games with friends while everyone is safe at home. Don’t forget about Skype and Facetime, and if you want to include multiple people, try Zoom or Google Meet. YouTube has endless exercise videos to get you and your family moving. You could even work out with friends virtually. Give yourself a mani/pedi or bake cookies. Start a new hobby. Those books collecting dust on your shelf, crack them open. Start giving yourself time to do the things you keep putting off. Remember to take care of yourself so that you can continue to provide effective intervention to your clients!
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