Continuing with our blog series for Stress Awareness Month, we want to look closer at stress in the workplace and to acknowledge and appreciate the stress that our care workers endure for their job. It can be both physically and mentally exhausting, which can sometimes lead to Caregiver Burnout.
Being a care worker involves having a lot of responsibility, since you are assisting people with their physical and mental health and can sometimes be the only human interaction that they have a day. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the psychological impact of the role means a large portion of carers have felt like resigning or that they have had to take medication for mental health problems.
Many people will also be providing care for loved ones and may have had to quit jobs and make changes to their lifestyles to be able to do so. There can often be further stress levels added in these circumstances, with having to adjust to the reality of your loved one’s declining health whilst supporting them.
As a care worker or someone caring for a loved one, some feelings to look out for may indicate that you’re suffering from heightened stress levels.
- Exhaustion – due to the hours you’re putting in, or equally due to the nature of the work
- Pressure – putting too much pressure on yourself to be the ‘perfect carer’
- Lack of motivation – providing care for someone who is unable to reciprocate their feelings or show gratitude
- Finding it difficult to sleep or relax – you may find you can’t switch off from work or your carer duties
- Changes in appetite – you may find you’re eating more or less than normal
- Unclear thinking – you may be feeling more emotional than usual or be excessively worrying
It’s so important to regain and maintain balance in your life. Constantly putting energy into caring for others may mean you’re neglecting your own needs and forgetting to look after your own physical and mental health.
Here are some things that you can do or simply remind yourself when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Reach out to your friends and family rather than bottling up your worries. Whether you need advice or just a listening ear, it’s not a crime or a sign of weakness to open up to loved ones.
Ask for help:
It’s very natural to need a hand every now and then, and if you feel as though you have a thousand things to do with too little time, or you just have no energy to do something, ask for help. With this comes accepting help when it’s offered to you, too.
Look after your health:
Your own health is just as important as the people’s you’re caring for. Eating healthily, ensuring you’re sleeping enough and trying to fit in regular exercise are all vital things to pay attention to. Taking time to yourself is important so that you can have a break. Even just 10-15 minutes could be enough time to try something like yoga or breathing exercises to help you relax and wind down.
Get professional support:
If you’re caring for a loved one, getting the help from professional carers would ease the workload and strain from yourself. If you’re a care worker, you may feel like you need to speak to a doctor or counsellor about how to deal with heightened stress levels.
Give yourself the credit you deserve:
Reminding yourself of the good you’re doing with your job enforces the positives of the job. Perhaps when times get tough, remembering why you became a carer and all the help you’ve given to service users will boost your morale.
For further help and guidance on how to handle stress as a care worker, follow this link.