Working in social care, you dedicate your career to looking after others and to improving their lives. This journey is rarely linear, nor easy. As a result, many of us find ourselves in stressful situations, working long hours and investing emotionally into our roles.
Working in any form of social care is demanding, and it is hard work. In order to remain a happy, healthy, well-balanced individual (and therefore a brilliant carer), you need to look after yourself too! Self care often gets ignored in those compassionate enough to take up professions looking after others, but needs to be acknowledged and practised regularly.
Stress as a result of working in social care
Exhaustion and fatigue don’t just stem from physical stress. Social care is often mentally and emotionally taxing – particularly when dealing with difficult or upsetting situations.
In order to avoid burnout and illness, it’s imperative that those working in social care look after their own mental and physical health as well as those they’re working with in a professional capacity. This goes for every type of support worker in every setting. Don’t assume that because a stress or a strain is more mental than physical that it’s not as important: it absolutely is.
How do you manage self care?
So you work in social care and realise that you need to do a little more to care for yourself. But where to start? Let us help guide you…
Health often promotes happiness! Eat well and try to manage a balanced diet (even around crazy shifts and schedules!), and try to exercise when you can. This doesn’t necessarily need to be strenuous gym shifts or long runs – particularly when you’re on night shifts or back-to-backs – but can be walking in the fresh air or taking fifteen minutes to stretch out after a day at work.
Exercise promotes serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’, so is great to promote better wellbeing – and of course, keeps you healthier physically, too.
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Take time out and time off
Social care is a sector in which it’s all too easy to get totally wrapped up in your work. Ensure that you use your holiday allowances fully, and use time off or away to completely remove yourself from your job.
Focus on you: you don’t need to travel anywhere exotic or indeed travel at all, but you do need some time to do what you like, rest and recoup a little.
It’s important that you talk through your stresses, and remain open and honest through difficult or straining periods. This may be with your friends, family, a therapist or colleagues.
Although this may not always feel natural – and indeed you’ll probably have confidentiality clauses to remain mindful of – it’s critical that others around you understand any burdens you’re under and how you’re coping with them. There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it, and remaining open-minded to that fact even when you don’t.
Do things you enjoy!
Instagram would have you think that self care is all bubble baths and face masks, and it’s not just that… but that’s definitely part of it. Do activities you enjoy – reading, walking, yoga, lounging in the bath, watching Disney films, shopping, eating – whatever your ‘thing’ is, indulge in it. Whilst realistically doing the things you love should never be just a ‘treat’, working life often makes it so.
Enjoy the time you have doing what you love and try to make time for it whenever you can. It’ll boost your mood and give you a healthier work/life balance. Win-win!
Registering with OUTT provides experienced social care candidates the opportunity to build an employer review base and take full control of where and when they work. It’s your life, live it! Register with us now!