Working in the senior care industry is an incredibly respected—albeit emotionally taxing—career path. It can be very difficult to consistently care for someone who is unable to do so themselves, or to watch an individual’s health decline.
It is important to make sure that you are also caring for yourself, and taking the appropriate steps to stay refreshed, positive, and motivated. Undue stress or anxiety will not only take a toll on you, but can negatively impact the wellbeing of those in your care.
Look for Signs of Burnout
Things like depression or anxiety can sneak up on you. So it is important to regularly check-in and evaluate how you are feeling. Just be honest with yourself!
If you start to notice that you are constantly feeling anxious, are experiencing problems sleeping, or have a cold that you just cannot seem to get rid of, you are likely experiencing burnout.
Remember, it is not good for anyone to “bring work home,” so if you find that you are frequently worrying about the person you are caring for, or putting their needs above your own, it is time to re-evaluate things.
Focus on Your Health
You cannot take care of others if you do not take care of yourself first. This means the obvious healthy habits, such as regular exercise and a well-balanced diet, but it also includes your emotional and spiritual health, too.
For lots of people, the workplace can be a great social outlet where they can engage in compelling conversation and build close friendships. This is likely more difficult for caregivers who work with individuals whose functions may be more limited. Be sure you are getting enough time with friends and doing the things that you enjoy.
Remember How Great You Are
It may sound self-aggrandizing, but remind yourself that you are awesome and the work you are doing is important.
Individuals need to feel valued and to know that they are making a positive contribution. Not having this sort of affirmation can quickly lead to feeling directionless and depressed—and, ultimately, to burning out.
Talk about your feelings with a close friend or counselor, and think about what the individual in your care would say if they had their full capacities. A positive perspective can make all the difference in the world. As hard as it sounds, try to focus on the good things. No matter how small they may seem they can quickly add up.
It Is Okay to Ask for Help
You may reach a point where you realize that you need to take some time for yourself if you are going to continue to effectively work as a caregiver. That’s okay. In fact, recognizing this will surely benefit all parties involved.
Whether you cut down on the amount of hours that you are dedicating to care giving each week, or start to schedule some time for yourself, do not be afraid to ask for help.
Every individual is different, and what works for one person might not work for you. The key is to be honest with how you are feeling, and to take action if you begin to notice signs of burnout.
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