In this post, writer Hannah Emery shares her tips and advice on how individuals with long-term conditions can consider whether they’re ready to work or volunteer. If you’re seeking meaningful work, sign up with Astriid today!
Taking the first step into employment or volunteering when you have either been completely unable to work or have had extended time off sick is a very personal decision that will depend on various factors for each individual.
Whilst there are many positives in being involved in some type of work, whether paid or voluntary, striking the balance of keeping as well as possible and not taking on more than you can manage is very important. This means trying to decipher what type of work is going to best fit into your lifestyle when taking into consideration how your health condition impacts your daily life and how many hours of work you can comfortably sustain week on week. It can be a tricky conundrum to work out, so here are some points to help you think about what makes most sense for you:
- Take an average week and note down how you are spending your time. If throughout the week you notice that you have periods of time on a relatively consistent basis where you feel you could be doing something, this may be the time to consider what you might like to do. This technique also allows you to roughly calculate the number of hours you think you could commit to.
- Consider whether the times that you feel up to doing some work always fall at a similar point in the day (morning, afternoon, evening) or whether it varies. This can help you to think about whether working fixed hours would work well for you or if you need to find a role with the flexibility to work when you are able to.
- If you feel that you may be ready to get into work, taking on volunteering or doing a placement is a sensible way of testing out what you are able to cope with. This path can take away some of the pressure and commitment of being in paid employment. It allows you to develop skills for future roles and generally find out what works for you and what doesn’t.
- When many of us think of being employed, the traditional 9-5 hours, five days a week comes to mind. However, this isn’t the only choice available – home-working, flexible hours and freelance opportunities are all options to consider. Thinking outside the box and getting creative about ways to make working work for your needs is sometimes required.
- Make sure you aren’t over-committing yourself, as this can take away some of the pressure and worry when you are first starting out. If you find that you can comfortably manage the hours that you have taken on and maintain your health, you could then look into increasing them.
It takes courage to try out working or volunteering when you are living with a long-term health condition, and for many people it is difficult to know if you are truly ready until you give it a go. It may require several attempts at finding the type of role that is the best fit for you. Being able to recognise this, learn from each experience and not get too disheartened is paramount. Whilst being employed for one person may mean a full-time job, for others doing a few hours a week or a month is still of great value and importance. Indeed, just living and managing a chronic condition can be a full-time job for many!
If you’re seeking meaningful work, sign up with Astriid today!
(Article written by Hannah Emery)