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Roles within the criminal justice scenario can be pressured. Important decision, often affecting the vulnerable or criminally dangerous, have to be taken and there can be stress associated with this.

For probation workers, staying calm, sane and relaxed in such a situation is not always that easy. Here, we offer some tips and advice on how to stay sane and avoid unnecessary stress when working under pressure in a challenging environment in a probation job role:

The importance of work-life balance

Establishing a meaningful work-life balance is crucial. Too much work, heavy caseloads and failing to take time away from the office to relax can have serious consequences. It is hugely important to create time to unwind with family and friends, or pursue a hobby or interest and get away from the stress and pressure of the office. A healthy work-life balance is a sure step to better health and ultimately making work a better place for you.

Accept criticism positively

Throughout your working life, you will inevitably face criticism either from your manager, fellow probation workers or even clients. The key to staying calm and sane in the light of these observations lies in how you accept them. The best step is to take them calmly and in a professional manner as they may well be valid, however they are presented to.

Take them on board, go away and consider and reflect on their value and validity and then use the observations to your advantage to further shape your approach to work. If you angrily reject them, the only person who will suffer is you with increased stress levels.

Circle of friends

Having friends in the office is of immense value. With people you can trust nearby, they can act as an ally, someone to bounce ideas off or simply share a breaktime with and chat about issues away from work. Talking through matters with a trusted colleague can help take the stress out of situations and will also enhance your social network away from the workplace.

Build your skill set

Improve your knowledge and be prepared to learn. Gaining new skills means you are less likely to stagnate in your job and the new skills may lead to better opportunities for you at work and aid your personal and professional development. Part of that is informal as well as formal, taking on board the criticism of colleagues and seeing them positively.

Master the art of communication

If you can communicate well with your manager and colleagues, your voice is more likely to be heard within the office. If there are issues over performance, they can be resolved more easily if raised in a timely and eloquent way and misunderstandings can be avoided. Any ideas you have for changes or improvements are also more likely to be considered – steps that may help make the workplace less stressful for you and your colleagues.

A few simple steps can help you stay sane and relaxed, even when working under pressure, and ensure you feel fulfilled as a probation worker.
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