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PHP & IOP: Balancing Work, Life, & Mental Health Treatment

June 12th, 2024


Starting a PHP and IOP program can be daunting. The unknown of what is to be expected is a lot for many. It may feel exhausting after coming home from hours of treatment, only to need to begin work for their job. On top of that, many IOP and PHP programs assign tasks and homework for participants to complete before the next session.

Ensuring one is taking care of themselves during treatment, while also trying to maintain a job can bring its own set of challenges. Let’s dive into the details of how you can make balancing work, life, and your mental health treatment more manageable.

Coping with Stress: Implementing Healthy Work-Life Habits

Balancing the demands of work and personal life can often be challenging, leading to increased stress and burnout. Implementing healthy work-life habits is essential for maintaining your mental and physical well-being. Here are some strategies to help you cope with stress and achieve a healthier balance between your work and mental health recovery.

Communicating Work Needs During Treatment

Talking with your boss and HR regularly about your needs while in treatment is a must. It may be necessary to take a temporary leave of absence depending on how many hours a week you will be in treatment. It may be possible to work a reduced number of hours during the treatment process or to work remotely during the time of treatment.

It’s also important to consider the type of job that you have when considering work needs. For one in a field such as healthcare or emergency services, working while in treatment may be too overwhelming and stressful. It is important that you check in regularly during the treatment process, to determine if your capacity for work tasks has changed.

Setting Boundaries

Boundary setting is another crucial part of effective Work/Life Balance while in PHP or IOP. Outside of your work hours, it is important to make sure you are not checking work emails. While this is important to implement in general, when one is in treatment, it is that much more crucial to ensure that an individual is not overworking themselves.

A clear boundary example could also be ensuring that the room that you work in at home is also not the room that you sleep in or spend leisure time in. For some, this may not be possible as their office space is in their living room but when possible, having two distinct spaces can help to block thoughts of work or work tasks that need to be completed

Task Prioritization

Task prioritization is also critical to managing stress and working while in mental health treatment. It is important to set realistic expectations and goals and to recognize that it may not be possible to get as much done while in treatment as it might be when one just has work to focus on.

Adding PHP and IOP into the mix can be like adding in another job due to the time restraints and requirements. Each workday, create a list of tasks that must be completed, in order of priority. You can also create a secondary list of tasks that need to get done but aren’t as pressing, that way if time allows,

Effective Time Management

Time management is a key part of juggling the work/life balance in treatment. It is important to take breaks as necessary during the workday to prevent burnout. It is also important to have a hard stop time. For instance, if you have IOP in the morning and plan to work for 5 hours after IOP, consider creating a schedule to follow such as working from 12 until 5 on the days of treatment.

Having a soft cut off time, such as telling yourself that you will stop working around 5, may lead to working an additional hour or two. In addition to a hard stop time, keeping track of time left in the workday is also important. An hour before your stop time, determine what is feasible to complete in the last hour of work so that you are not getting too deep into a task that requires completion in the same sitting.

Prioritizing Self-Care: Finding Balance

Self-care is foundational to minimizing stress while working and in a higher level of care treatment. It is important to recognize that self-care looks and means different things to different people. For some, it may be as basic as keeping up with routine hygiene.

This may include taking multiple showers per week, brushing their teeth daily, or putting on fresh clothes. It may also look like setting boundaries with loved ones. The following are a few self-care considerations when managing work and treatment:

  • Regular Exercise: Find what works best for you, whether it's going for a run, doing yoga, or taking a brisk walk. Consistent physical activity can significantly boost your mood and energy levels.
  • Journaling: Spend a few minutes each day reflecting on your treatment and emotions. Writing down your thoughts can help address any anxieties or feelings you may be experiencing.
  • Boundary Setting: It's crucial to prioritize your mental health by setting boundaries. Learn to say no to plans or commitments that may negatively impact your treatment. Putting your needs first is essential for recovery.
  • Checking Basic Needs: Regularly assess your basic needs to ensure you're taking care of yourself. This includes maintaining proper hygiene, eating well, and getting adequate sleep.
  • Engaging in Enjoyable Activities: Dedicate time each day to a hobby or activity that brings you joy, such as reading, writing, cooking, listening to music, or watching your favorite TV show.
  • Taking Time to Decompress: Allow yourself at least 20 minutes each day to relax and do nothing structured. This could be lying in a chair, bed, or couch. Practicing mindfulness and taking time to rest is vital for improving mental health. Remember, rest is a necessary part of staying healthy and you deserve it.

Support Systems: Engaging Family & Colleagues in Your Journey

Finally, it is important to acknowledge the benefits of including your support system in the treatment process. It may feel intimidating to share that you are in a PHP or IOP program at first, but doing the process alone can be very isolating. It may be helpful to talk to a few close friends and family at first. Many do not know what PHP or IOP entails so it’s important to clarify any assumptions or misunderstandings they may have about it.

It could be helpful to let them know the time frame for the treatment. This may help them to better support you and to better identify times when you could use a little extra support. It is important to communicate your needs to them as well. Maybe on days of treatment, you’d prefer a little extra space or may not have the capacity to respond to messages or calls.

Maybe on other days, you might need a little pick me up such as your favorite dessert or having a loved one come over to watch a movie with you. By identifying your needs, you can ensure you are not on your journey alone.

Your support system does not only have to be family and friends. It could also consist of colleagues. By letting them in on your journey, they will be able to better help support you in completing work tasks or lending a hand as necessary. They may be able to take on tasks that you do not have the mental space to complete at the time. Leveraging your support systems during treatment can be helpful in ensuring the best results.

Signs Your Work-Life Balance Might Be Unhealthy

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is extremely helpful to ensure you stay dedicated and on track for any mental health treatments you are undergoing. When the scales tip too far in one direction, it can lead to various issues that affect your personal and professional life. Here are some signs that your work-life balance might be unhealthy:

  • Constant Fatigue: Feeling constantly tired, even after a full night’s sleep, can be a sign that your work-life balance is off. Overworking yourself can lead to chronic fatigue and burnout, making it difficult to perform daily tasks effectively.
  • Increased Stress Levels: If you find yourself feeling stressed most of the time, it might be due to an imbalance between work and personal life. Persistent stress can lead to physical and mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure.
  • Lack of Personal Time: Not having enough time for yourself or your loved ones is a clear indicator of an unhealthy work-life balance. Personal time is essential for relaxation, hobbies, and maintaining relationships.
  • Neglecting Self-Care: When work consumes most of your time and energy, self-care practices like exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep often get neglected. This neglect can lead to a decline in physical health and overall well-being.
  • Decreased Job Satisfaction: Feeling unfulfilled or dissatisfied with your job can be a sign that you’re overworking and not allowing yourself enough downtime. Job satisfaction is essential for long-term career happiness and productivity.
  • Poor Performance at Work: An unhealthy work-life balance can negatively impact your performance at work. If you’re making more mistakes, missing deadlines, or feeling less motivated, it might be time to reassess your balance.
  • Strained Relationships: Work-life imbalance can strain relationships with family and friends. If you’re frequently missing important events or not spending quality time with loved ones, your work-life balance might need adjustment.
  • Physical Health Issues: Persistent headaches, frequent illnesses, or unexplained aches and pains can be physical manifestations of stress and overwork. Pay attention to these signs as they may indicate a need to rebalance your work and personal life.
  • Loss of Enjoyment: If activities that once brought you joy now feel like chores, it could be a sign that work is taking too much of your energy and enthusiasm.
  • Feeling Overwhelmed: Constantly feeling overwhelmed and unable to manage your workload can be a significant indicator that your work-life balance is unhealthy.

Recognizing these signs is the first step toward making positive changes. If you identify with any of these symptoms, consider evaluating your current lifestyle and making adjustments to achieve a healthier work-life balance. Prioritizing your well-being is essential for maintaining long-term mental health and happiness.

Intensive Outpatient Program & Partial Hospitalization Program Near You

If you’re looking for the leading PHP and IOP program in Chicago, look no further. Clarity Clinic’s PHP and IOP are programs designed to offer flexible, intensive support for individuals struggling with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and more.

Our partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient program incorporates a variety of therapeutic techniques to address your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

With multiple mental health clinics throughout Chicago, accessing our IOP and PHP programs is easy and convenient. We have clinics in the Loop, River North, Mokena, Lakeview Belmont, Lakeview Broadway, Evanston, and Arlington Heights, Chicago, IL.

Ready to begin your journey to better mental health? Contact us today to learn more about our Intensive Outpatient Program and Partial Hospitalization Program and schedule your consultation.

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