How To Self-Care When You’re A Caregiver
Being a caregiver at a hospice means that you have to take care of a few senior residents in every eight-hour shift. The easy tasks are reminding them of their medication and calming them down whenever they get antsy. If you happen to be responsible for elders with dementia or physical disabilities, you might need to give them a bath, as well as clothe and feed them. In case the hospice is short-handed, the administrator may even ask you to work for more hours than required. Sandra Sanchez-Reilly, MD and co-authors explain that people, “who care for seriously ill patients face a high risk for diminished personal well-being, including burnout, moral distress, and compassion fatigue.”
Saying that you have a physically taxing profession is an understatement at this point. Nevertheless, what can you do to take care of yourself when you are a caregiver?
Invest In Your Health
The smartest thing to do once you start working at a hospice is to obtain medical insurance. The private or federal organization managing the institution might provide this benefit to employees. Similarly, you can get insured on your own.
You need the health insurance so that you will be able to get checkups without paying out of your wallet. It matters to have a doctor examine your physical and mental conditions regularly since your job does not involve typing behind a desk and sitting there until your shift ends. You often interact with ailing people, so having a weak body and mind is not ideal.
Don’t Bottle Up Your Stress
Many workers tend to feel burnt out, but they don’t usually do anything to overcome stress. In their mind, they believe that their body will eventually forget it as long as they get to help the seniors.
The thing is, stress is something that you should address from the moment you feel it. Bottling it up, hoping that it will disappear soon, will not work. Stress acts like a negativity magnet, after all, in the sense that it attracts all the bad vibes that can poison your system. Trent Boyko, MD, of Medical City. shares a personal way how to release stress “On those stressful, overwhelming days, I keep focused. I sit back, take a deep breath and smile, because smiling gives a perspective on what you are doing. I am helping people, I have a great job and I am so blessed to work with such great staff.” If you don’t get rid of it, one of these things might occur: 1) you blow up and make a scene at the hospice, or 2) your body will shut down on its own.
Remember Your InspirationWhy do you exert so much effort as a caregiver? Is it because you simply love helping elders get by and recuperate? Or is it because you have a family depending on you?
Whatever your reason is for working hard, that should also serve as your inspiration to self-care. Just think about it now. You cannot offer your services to the seniors if your health is at risk. You cannot earn money for your loved ones if you get sick and need to take days off. So, you should remember to relax and pamper yourself once in a while to keep on doing what you love.
When you are outside the hospice, you should try to go out with your family members. You can also plan a weekend getaway with your adventurous friends. In case you are still single, start mingling with other people and find a man or woman you can date.
You ought to do any activity that allows you to build and nurture human connections so that you won’t ever feel like a machine. A healthy relationship with everyone can do wonders for your well-being, so you need to make time for socialization regardless of how busy you may be.
“Nurturing actions are readily available, and though some may take a little effort, the payoff is well worth it. Think of it as an interest-bearing account. Once you put energy into your relationship, it pays dividends like contentment, excitement, joy, and desire. You get back much more than you put in,” Barton Goldsmith Ph.D. explains.
Taking care of yourself even though your job is to look after the welfare of the hospice residents is not as impossible as it seems. Yes, your work is not the nine-to-five type that gives you plenty of hours to work on yourself. You might need to take graveyard shifts from time to time and make your nights your days. However, you cannot be an effective caregiver once you do not prioritize self-care.