Tips to Help Care Professionals Decompress After Challenging Situations

Tips to Help Care Professionals Decompress After Challenging Situations

There’s little doubt that some days working in social care can be a little intense! That might be dealing with a health setback of a patient, managing a mental health crisis, or coping with bereavements.

One of the best things about care work is that two days are rarely alike – but there are some shifts where you need to take a step back and consider your welfare.

Decompressing is crucial. It means you can manage your emotional health, express your feelings, and return to work without feeling overwhelmed.

Here we’ll provide some top tips to help care professionals to decompress after a challenging situation – and how to ensure you check in with your mental health when you feel like the burden on your shoulders is becoming too heavy.

Why Decompressing is Essential in Professional Social Care

First, let’s dispel a few myths. These are truths that experienced care workers will undoubtedly know but are always helpful to recap.

  • You can’t always help every person, every time. There can be situations outside of your skillset, which your expertise doesn’t cover, or where a person cannot be helped at that specific time. Don’t put yourself down if something didn’t go to plan or a patient wasn’t grateful for your best efforts.
  • We are all human. No matter the uniform you wear, or the qualifications you have, it is impossible never to feel touched or upset when a situation perhaps goes badly or a resident doesn’t respond well to a care plan. It is A-OK to feel sad, frustrated or disappointed.
  • Compartmentalising isn’t that simple. We’ve all heard of PTSD, and this condition is so prevalent because no person, in any role, can entirely shut off their work-life into one box. Your thoughts will always travel home with you, so you must give yourself the space to deal with them.
  • Not everybody will like you, and you can’t like everybody. So much of care work relies on excellent interpersonal skills and trust. There can be times where you don’t have a good rapport with a patient, and it isn’t a reflection on your character or how hard you tried.

It doesn’t matter what area of social care you work in; these facts will always have relevance.

Therefore, the team at OUTT.com feel it’s incredibly valuable to be conscious of the impact of challenging situations.

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Decompression Techniques to help Care Professionals

Let’s look at a few strategies to shake it off, clear your head, and be ready to go again tomorrow.

1. Deep Breathing.

It’s an age-old tactic, and it works. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to breathe into a count of ten, hold the breath, and then release it to the same, slow count.

Calm, measured breathing is a fantastic way to centre yourself and let go of tension and stress.

2. Talk it Out.

Whether to your manager, a colleague, a partner, or a friend, you must air your concerns or talk about a problem, so you’re not dragging it around behind you.

No matter the situation, a nagging worry will always feel lighter when you’ve shared it. If you’re struggling, there are also professional counselling lines that provide an invaluable service.

3. Exercise and Fresh Air.

Jogging, walking, or a hardcore gym session are excellent ways to take your mind off the situation. Quite often, it’s a simple psyche reset that will help you free your headspace and feel like a new person.

Endorphins are powerful, and they’re free – and way healthier than a glass of wine or a big bar of chocolate if you’re feeling stressed!

4. Get a Decent Night’s Sleep.

There’s little like a great night’s sleep to feel more settled. We often make things feel more disastrous than they are, and anxieties are massively enhanced by exhaustion.

If you’re feeling like work is getting on top of you, it’s time to schedule some self-care, and sleep is the most potent remedy of all.

5. Switch Off – Completely!

When something challenging has happened to throw the working day off balance, it’s tempting to keep thinking about it or discussing it endlessly with colleagues long after the shift has ended.

For people who are serious about decompressing, turning off all of your electronics is a great way to give your brain a pause and stop digesting media or messages until you’ve had time to process your thoughts.

6. Read a Great Book.

Reading a book – an actual, live, physical book, not an e-reader – is another fantastic way to decompress. It transports you to another world, forces your brain to stop churning out repetitive thoughts, and is a distraction like no other.

7. Create Boundaries.

It might be that you’ve had one terrible day, but love your work the rest of the time. However, if you feel that you’re constantly teetering on the edge of burn out, it’s time to make a change.

The best way to do that is to keep a journal and work out what’s tipping you towards that cliff. It could be that you can’t manage night shifts, that you need to cut back on hours, find work closer to home, or decide to work in a specific social care niche.

Whatever boundaries you need are vital to protecting your wellbeing, and you should do everything possible to protect them.

8. Take a Break.

You may be dealing with a problematic ongoing situation. Perhaps a restructure is causing staff anxiety, or you have a particularly challenging patient with whom you’re finding it hard to engage.

Other causes of longer-term stress include lack of job security, concerns about redundancies, financial pressures, or the inability to put down roots and feel settled.

The first piece of advice we’d give in this scenario is to take some time off work. At least one full day, and ideally two or three back to back. Time off isn’t a bad thing and can do wonders if you need the opportunity to reassess your options, calm your nerves and cleanse your mind of all the day-to-day problems.

Secondly, we’d strongly suggest visiting OUTT.com to consider a different working pattern – with a wide choice of shifts, minimum hourly pay rates, full PAYE benefits, and the backing of a passionate time of skilled social care recruitment experts!

Whichever strategies you choose, it’s essential to recognise that decompressing will make a profound difference to how you deal with a challenging situation next time one comes along.

Being fresh, energetic and ready to engage is reliant on having great resilience – so finding a way to decompress is just as vital to your patients as it is to your own health.

Manage Care Worker Stress

Manage Care Worker Stress

Care workers are key-workers and for perhaps the first time ever, the world is really beginning to appreciate just how important our roles are! The unsung heroes of the healthcare world, care workers suffer similar stresses to other healthcare professionals.

Working in the care sector is extremely stressful for many reasons, and each role and responsibility can have its own pressures; physical, mental and professional. It’s unlikely that any care worker will find their role entirely stress-free, but there are things that can be done to help negate the effects of workplace intensity and tension. Here are a few tips on the best ways to manage care worker stress.

Why Is Stress A Problem?

It may sound like common sense, but a happy worker is an effective worker – people work better when they’re secure and clear-thinking.

People under undue levels of stress and duress often suffer from fatigue, confusion, a lack of mental comprehension and even physical symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, muscle soreness and dizziness. Not one of these is conducive to the clear mind and attitude required for effective and compassionate care work, nor a healthy, happy human being.

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What Are The Best Ways To Manage Care Worker Stress?

It’s well known that care workers and other key-workers often find themselves working long shifts fraught with difficult situations, less-than-ideal working conditions and unexpected changes in practice or plans. Practising some self-care and investing time in yourself isn’t always easy when you’re constantly working under pressure, but there are ways it can be done.

Exercise regularly
Many consider regular exercise to be too much of a time commitment or too labour-intensive when they’re already overtired. However, even just a brisk walk each day can boost fitness levels and endorphin (happy hormone) levels.

Consider getting up earlier and taking a walk with a coffee to watch the sun come up, or pop on some headphones and walk without a plan for half an hour after work to build up hunger for your dinner. Try running, stretch out on your living room floor and find yoga and pilates tutorials online. Dance to your favourite song round the kitchen or just get off the bus one stop early and walk home. There are lots of ways to get in some exercise without having to spend any money, spend little time and little effort!

Well, you probably don’t need any more encouragement with this one! Make sure you’re able to get at least a few unbroken hours of sleep every night (or day, if you’re on nightshifts) by nailing down a bedtime routine with no screen-time, some wind-down time and no distractions.

Quality can often beat quantity when it comes to rest, so do what you can to really rest.

Eat well
Care workers are often on-the-go and as a result rely on convenience and speed to facilitate their diet. However, eating healthily over quickly can have a huge benefit to both body and mind and so it’s worth investing time in if at all possible. Meal prepping on your days off can help save time and ensuring you always have healthy snacks to graze on in your car will prevent you from having to revert to fast food or unhealthy convenience snacks.

It is important that to stay mentally happy, everyone has an outlet to discuss their worries and anxieties – both work ones and otherwise. If you have a partner at home, or a friend or family member who you can trust to be open and honest and to give a fresh perspective, sit down and chat through anything bothering you with them.

If you have a professional problem, seek advice from your manager. It is always best to remain transparent with your communications than to be dishonest and let problems build.

Use Your Holiday Allowance
OUTT provides paid annual leave allowances and we encourage all of our staff to take full advantage of it! Take time for yourself away from the workplace, even if you’re not jetting off somewhere tropical or distant. Space – both physical and mental – from work is a good thing and can help you ‘reset’ your energy and attitude.


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!

Self Care When Working In Social Care

Self Care When Working In Social Care

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…

Stay healthy

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.

Keep communicative

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!