Being a home care worker comes with many rewards, such as the knowledge that you’re making a real impact in your patients’ lives. It also comes with a lot of responsibility and a high level of stress.
In performing your day-to-day duties of caring for others, it’s easy to forget to also look after yourself. This may be one reason why the rate of burnout is especially high in this profession.
This is why self-care is of particular importance for domiciliary workers. In order to maintain good mental and emotional health in the face of a very demanding profession, you must take proper care of yourself both mentally and emotionally.
Here are five powerful ways you can practise self-care as a home care worker.
1. Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet
We put this self-care tip at the top of our list because a good diet is essential for good health. You can’t feel and function at your best if your body isn’t adequately nourished.
With all of the demands on your time and energy that being a domiciliary worker entails, it can be difficult to find time to shop for and prepare nutritious meals. However, there are ways to plan your meals and snacks that are both convenient and healthy. Keeping a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand is a good start, and meal prepping on the weekend can set you up to eat well throughout the week.
It’s important to recognise that food can also be a source of comfort, and it’s one that domiciliary workers often find themselves turning to as a way to unwind after a long day. However, the comfort these indulgences provide is very short-lived and the consequences of an unhealthy diet can be severe and get worse over time. They include low energy, mental fog, and a whole host of other issues that interfere with your ability to do your work and enjoy your life.
You deserve to feel good and energised, and a proper diet will help you do that.
2. Take time to feel gratitude for things big and small
Practising gratitude is one of the most powerful forms of self-care. It’s also very simple to do.
You can start right now by making an effort to notice things that bring you joy, peace, happiness, or other good feelings. It can be as a minor as a hot cup of tea in the afternoon or as major as achieving milestones you’ve set for yourself. It’s both the little things and the big things that make our lives bright and sweet.
To really get the most out of this practise, consider writing down the things you are grateful for in a gratitude journal. Studies show that people who consciously make time for gratitude and record it experience better mental health than those who do not.
3. Ask for help when you need it
This tip can be a tricky one for home care workers to truly embrace. You’re so used to being the person who takes care of everything and who others turn to for help that it can be quite a mental shift to rely on others for assistance.
However, it’s well worth your effort to get into the habit of reaching out for help when you need it and accepting it when it is offered. No one can do everything themselves, and giving and receiving help is often a great way to connect and deepen our relationships with others.
Some of the tasks that friends and family could take off your plate are grocery shopping, laundry, meal prep, and child care.
It’s amazing how much of a difference “outsourcing” these chores can make for your mental health.
4. Make time for relaxation
We tend to think of relaxation as a luxury typically reserved for the weekend when really it’s a necessity and should be scheduled into your daily life. Not only will you feel better, you’ll be more focussed and more effective at your job.
Many people, domiciliary workers included, use meditation as a way to relax. It can be done in the morning to establish a calm mindset for the day ahead or in the evening to unwind, or both. Deep breathing and stretching are also good to include in a relaxation routine.
Some people find exercise to be a great stress reliever and an effective way to relax. This can take the form of yoga, aerobics, jogging, or even a brisk walk. Another benefit of using exercise to relax is that it boosts your strength and endurance, which is great for your overall health.
5. Connect frequently with yourself and others
This tip is drawn directly from the home care worker’s playbook. You check in with your patients every time you see them, don’t you? You inquire about their mood and their day to see where they’re at mentally and emotionally.
You should be doing the very same thing for yourself! You deserve this level of care, and paying attention to your own feelings on a regular basis yields a huge amount of insight into your mind and your personality.
The other way you should be taking care of yourself is by connecting with others. Being a domiciliary worker is rewarding but it can be very challenging. What’s more, it’s a profession with a specific set of stresses that outsiders may not be able to relate to. This is why many home care workers find that support groups designed specifically for them are a powerful outlet and form of self-care. These groups provide a place where you can discuss your feelings with other like-minded people who understand.