How to Avoid Workism in Travel Therapy


If you follow current trends online or on social media, you’ve probably come across the term “workism.” It is a term that was popularized by two different blogs here and here. While there is no official definition of the term, generally speaking, it is used to describe the “religion” of the working class. Not just the working class, but specifically it encompasses the college-educated workers, who see their self-worth as a product of their career. Workism broadly is about how these educated workers do not know how to create a work-life balance. This is also especially true of many traveling therapists. It can be hard to decompress and create a work-life balance when you are always traveling or on assignments. In this blog, we will discuss how to avoid workism, and how to create a happier life whether you are a traveling or permanent therapist.

How to Avoid Workism

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So how to avoid workism? First, know what it is.

What is Workism?

As mentioned above, there is no official definition of workism. However, in his original article Derek Thompson describes workism as “the belief that work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose; and the belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.” Whew, quite the mouthful! Let’s break it down into the three main ideas behind workism.

  • Work is necessary for economic production
  • Work is the centerpiece to one’s identity and life’s purpose
  • Every policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work

Work is Necessary to Economic Production

This is a fact of the world. Without work and workers, the economy would not exist. This dates all the way back to the early colonization of America and beyond. If people would not have worked hard to build houses, tend to their crops, etc., the world as we know it would not exist. This is an important fact to internalize when you are feeling burnt out or like what you are doing doesn’t matter. Therapy is not a product it is a service- a very important service at that! Without your hard work and dedication to your job and your patients, the economy would not function in the same way.

However, the other side of this fact is even truer. While it is very important to realize your worth and how important your job is, it is equally important to remember that it is a job above all else. You should never put your career before your mental health. This is one of the main pitfalls of workism.

Work is the Centerpiece to One’s Identity and Life’s Purpose

This is definitely part of the corrupted mindset of workism. The American Dream has evolved into the root of these up and coming mindsets. The American Dream has made people obsessed with materialistic successes and the idea that there is always room to move up in the world when in reality this might not be the case. In such a technology-driven era, young people especially are searching for measures of success through social media. These measures include the amount of “likes” they get on a post or the number of people that leave nice comments. The tangible measure of success is easy for them and drives them to obsess over it. However, as someone in the medical field, you don’t have to worry so much about this. While there are not many tangible measures to show you that you are doing a great job, you should keep in mind that as an allied health worker, you are changing lives every day.

Every Policy to Promote Human Welfare Must Always Encourage More Work

Once again, this is one of the poisonous beliefs behind the workism movement. Not every good deed has to be more work intensive! There are many things that prove this wrong, ranging from the simple everyday tasks of holding the door open for someone, to helping someone finish one of their tasks on the job.

How to Avoid Workism? Tips for a Healthy Balance

If you are reading through these characteristics of the so-called “workism religion” and you’re thinking that this might be you, we have some tips for you on how to break your workism habits.

Step 1: Admit that you might be a workaholic

Often people that fit the workism characteristics also consider themselves to be workaholics. While it is good to throw yourself into your work, as a traveling therapist you also have to take time for yourself. Taking your work home with you at the end of your shift can cause a lot of emotional stress on top of everything else you have going on in your life. Learning when to step back is hard but can be very beneficial for you.

Step 2: Find ways to create a better work-life balance

It can be really difficult to have a work-life balance when you are traveling. However, this is probably one of the most important tips on how to avoid workism. Here is a bulleted list of things you can do in your personal life to help create a better balance for yourself.

  • Prioritize Your Time
    • Categorize your tasks by level of urgency to help you organize your to-do lists
  • Schedule Personal Time
    • While you may have a lot of tasks on that newly organized to-do list, it is important to add self-care to that to-do list. It could be something as simple as re-organizing your temp housing or taking a walk
  • Enjoy Weekends and Vacation Days
    • Try not to put off all your inane chores until Saturday or Sunday. Accomplish small tasks during the week that way on Friday you can come home after a long shift and relax stress-free

How to Avoid Workism: In Sum

There’s a lot of information here about what workism is and how to avoid workism. The main thing to keep in mind is that your self-worth should not be dependent on the amount of work you do. Especially in a profession like travel therapy, you have to learn how and when to take care of yourself.

Do you have a good work-life balance while on assignment? Share your tips with us in the comments below!

Author: Allied Travel Careers

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