Guest blogger Ashley Smith continues her series on 5 Steps to Fighting for Recovery at Work:
Third, ask for accommodations at work. When my symptoms were bad, I reduced workhours. While this option is controversial because we may not want to disclose the fact that were having health issues, seeking accommodations should be considered. Accommodations may look like reducing hours, workload, taking more breaks, and sick leave. How can somebody work when they cannot function?! Also, some companies offer mental health or self-care days, employment assistance programs, and benefits that is family and medical leave.
Steps 4 and 5 to follow in second blog entry.
The fourth step is vital to the recovery journey. That is your support system. When going through it at work it is important to stay connected to others. Loved ones may ask: are you okay? You looked stressed out? Do you need to take a break? Therefore, let your friends and family know that you need more support. Lean on more than two people that way you’re not putting too much on one individual. Stay in the loop with people by text and other electronic channels. Send a selfie picture for them to see your hair, eyes, and facial expression—these may seem like subtle cues, but your loved ones know when you’re off balance by your presentation, which other people might overlook.
Also, your punctation in text messages may seem different. Do a video call or just talk on the phone. Your tone of voice could let your closest supporters know you are going through something. When you visit them in-person carry out activities that you both enjoy. For example, cooking, playing cards, walking, watching your favorite shows or movies, etc. Other ways to get involved may include getting involved in a support group, going to the park, and coffee shop, etc. Staying connected is very important. It is critical to the recovery journey because we all need support to thrive in life.
Finally, acknowledge the need to change your routine. In the past, I recognized how my self-care routine was not a priority and this effected my overall wellness. Therefore, I practiced the tips I outlined above: 1) look at your early warning signs, 2) discuss concerns with your health team, 3) seek accommodations at work, 4) gather supporters for assistance, and 5) develop a new routine. Being intentional about self-care needs, support, and treatment are essential to fighting for wellness at work.
Again, I encourage you to look at therapy to strengthen coping strategies. I’ve created many coping tools with my therapist over the years and even though I may become challenged at work or in other areas, I recycle wellness activities. In fact, my top self-care priorities right now are prayer, therapy, journaling, walking, checking in with a family and friends, and resting. Everybody’s focus may be different, but the struggle is real, and symptoms are too. Still, stay hopeful and connected with your network. If necessary, ask for accommodations. Continue to believe you will overcome situations with mental health and get back to work in a good place.
To learn more about Ashley Smith visit her blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia and purchase her lasted blog book, What’s on My Mind? Volume I, Revised Edition. The blog examines her life in recovery. Ashley discusses symptoms and alternative coping strategies. She empowers others with hope. Her blog book, What’s on My Mind? Volume I, Revised Edition, is a collection of blog articles from Overcoming Schizophrenia (2008—2013), that explores how she learned of her diagnosis, became a mental health advocate, and manages recovery. Ashley Smith is a former state NAMI Georgia board member, state trainer, and group facilitator. She serves on the advisory council of the CURSZ Foundation. Ashley works as a peer counselor known as a certified peer specialist (CPS) in Georgia. Read more about Ashley Smith: