Being a home health care worker can be incredibly rewarding, but it can sometimes leave you feeling burnt out or overwhelmed. Many workers put an immense amount of time and thought into taking care of each client, but sometimes forget to take care of themselves. Investing in your emotional, mental, and physical health allows you to be a better and more fulfilled caregiver. Plus, slowing down and taking time for yourself will also improve your quality of life!
There are many different ways to employ self-care often, even if you have a busy schedule. It’s okay to start small and fit in even just 10 minutes a day! The most important aspect of self-care is to be consistent and create regular time in your routine. Read below for ideas on self-care practices that anyone can work into their life!
- Take Care of Your Body
Eat healthy meals throughout the day, ensuring you will feel good and have enough fuel to tackle your workday. Aerobic exercise is a key element for stress reduction. If you don’t have much time, go for a walk while you take a call or catch up with a friend. Do a 10-minute yoga video or ride your bike around the neighborhood. Many websites and apps offer classes, like the free FITON app, which allows you to select your workout based on how long of a class you want to take. Options start at 5-10 minutes and continue up to 30+. You can also select what muscle groups you’d like to work and the intensity level. Any amount of exercise is better than nothing! Make sure to also allow yourself enough time to sleep and avoid strenuous mental or physical activities as you get close to bedtime.
- Stay Connected
Reach out to family, friends, colleagues, and/or your favorite community groups for social contact. Set up a call, FaceTime or Zoom with a loved one or family member, or arrange for a socially distanced visit with friends to reduce any feelings of isolation. Feeling connected and letting loose with friends and family is vital to your mental health and well-being! Research has indicated that one of the most powerful tools for resilience and recuperation in the face of emotionally stressful circumstances is having social support and being reminded that you are not alone.
- Check in with Yourself
As a home health care worker, you’re bound to run into stressful or emotionally taxing situations. Watch out for warning signs that you are becoming overly stressed, so you can quickly act to make changes before you burn out. Signs might include irritability, sleep issues, and forgetfulness. Ask yourself:
- What is causing stress for me?
- What do I have control over and what do I not?
- How can I take action to change what I have control over?
- Are my basic human needs being met?
- If not, how can I take action to make sure they are?
Take some time for mindful breathing at several points throughout the day. Find a quiet place where you can practice low and slow breaths, maybe before getting out of the car, during your lunch break, or even in the bathroom. Thoughtful breathing helps you to calm down and improves your concentration. Meditation is also an effective technique to reduce stress. Research has shown that when practiced for even 10 minutes each day, meditation can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation. The website www.mindful.org is a great resource for free guided meditations and mini-courses.
- Invest Time in Yourself
Create time each week to do something you love. Whether that’s taking a bath, watching a movie with your family, or going for a hike, find even one hour each week that you can dedicate to yourself. Put it on your calendar or planner and let family members know your plan, so that they can support you in achieving this. It can be challenging at first to commit to taking time for yourself, especially for those with very hectic schedules. However, you will not be able to function at your highest level when you’re not investing in your well-being.