Page 4 - ABILITY Magazine - Best Practices Employment
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ave you ever found yourself over-
whelmed by a seemingly endless to-do list both at work and at home? Perhaps you’re tackling
these tasks with a physical or mental impairment?
You’re not alone. Finding a balance between work and the rest of your life isn’t easy, and having a disability can make it even more challenging. With funding from the National Institute of Disability Research, the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell Univer- sity is currently conducting research on the topic of work-life balance and disability.
So far, what we understand is that while working con- tributes to enhanced mental and physical health, as well as to a better quality of life, employed people with disabilities may have even more to juggle than their colleagues without disabilities.
Often there are a number of competing obligations, such as a spouse, children, or aging parents who rely on you, making self-care particularly important for workers with disabilities. This means setting aside leisure time and participating in activities that promote good physical and emotional well being, including disability manage- ment. Carving out time for yourself can make you feel a greater sense of satisfaction.
Research indicates that everyday life for people with disabilities tends to be more stressful than it is for their
peers without disabilities. The former sometimes worry about the potential impact of a disability on their employment. Additionally, individuals with disabilities may contend with stressors such as difficulty accepting changes in functioning, or worry that they’ll be felled by a health decline owing to secondary conditions or aging.
Furthermore, employed people with disabilities may receive less support from coworkers than people with- out disabilities, an important resource in negotiating work-life concerns. Although the concept of work-life balance has been the subject of research for more than four decades, we are only now beginning to understand it, particularly as it relates to workers with disabilities.
While our study is underway, here are suggestions for successfully negotiating work and life that can benefit people of all abilities:
Take care of #1 (that’s Y-O-U!): Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of rest. Exercise on a regular basis. If you’ve been prescribed medication, be sure to take it as directed. Likewise, if you have an assistive device such as a cane or wheelchair, use it as needed to con- serve energy so that you have more to give to interests outside of work. Finally, activities such as yoga and meditation can help you feel calmer and more mentally alert. These suggestions can benefit you in the work- place, and have a positive “spillover” effect on your personal life.

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