15 Ways to Practise Self Care and Avoid Burnout

15 Ways to Practise Self Care and Avoid Burnout

User Profile By Haley Burress   United States

Found In: Activities Articles Coronavirus: Covid-19

You spend your workday caring for others. In between all that, you complete paperwork, make staff schedules and decorate the community room for the next party. Then, you head home to care for your family. One important question - who takes care of you?
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You spend your workday caring for others. You carefully plan activities that will suit your residents and lead those groups with energy and smiles. You encourage your staff members and educate other departments on how to get more involved with the residents you serve. You rally volunteers and keep family members happy.

In between all that, you complete paperwork, make staff schedules and decorate the community room for the next party. Then, you head home to care for your family. One important question - who takes care of you?

What is Caregiver Burnout?

When you spend most of your time pouring energy and care into others, you are at high risk for experiencing caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout can cause serious emotional and physical negative side effects like:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased feelings of depression and/or anxiety
  • Anger or mood swings
  • Feelings of isolation or resentment
  • Increased blood pressure

Beyond those serious side effects, caregiver burnout can cause additional complications for people who work in the activity profession. For example, you could experience:

  • Decreased creativity (not good for planning meaningful activity calendars)
  • Increased fatigue or exhaustion (not good for leading groups that people love)
  • Decreased patience (not good for stressful trips or events)
  • Disorganization (not good for documentation compliance or advanced planning)

The Self-Care Solution

You can avoid caregiver burnout by practicing self-care. What is self-care? It’s anything you do that makes you feel cared for. When you make time for self-care, you give yourself the rest, love, and attention that you need in order to be the best caregiver possible.

Some people use the phrase “love in before love out” when talking about self-care in respect to people who are caregivers. You may have also heard the analogy of filling your own bucket before filling others or putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others. In any case, you need to keep yourself healthy and ready to take on the challenges of your workday.

If you make your own self-care a priority, scheduling in time each day or week, you can:

  • Lower your perceived stress levels
  • Feel emotionally equipped to handle bad days
  • Be more creative and ready to try new things
  • Avoid the flu bug going around (or feel better sooner)
  • Have the energy to smile through that next meeting with the difficult family
  • Provide encouragement to your staff when they feel overwhelmed
  • Come up with solutions to problems that pop up throughout the day
  • Hug an upset resident instead of feeling angry at them for interrupting your activity
  • Represent your senior community well when out on a trip to the farmer’s market with 12 residents with dementia
  • Give better advice to family members on how to care for themselves during times of crisis

15 Self-Care Activities

Self-care can look different for everyone. You have to try new things until you find some practices that work best for you. Make sure you have plenty of self-care activities that work for you, and not just one.

Self-care activities could include:

  • Walking around the neighborhood
  • Praying or meditating
  • Taking a yoga class, zumba class, or other exercise class
  • Taking a bath
  • Curling up with a good book
  • Trying a new recipe in the kitchen
  • Going to your medical and dental check-ups
  • Talking to a therapist
  • Journaling three things you are thankful for before bedtime
  • Repeating a favorite mantra or phrase
  • Listening to a podcast
  • Eating lunch (sitting down and not on the run)
  • Drinking enough water
  • Flipping through a favorite magazine
  • Putting a mask on your face or a treatment in you hair

Your self-care can include other people, like spending time with friends at your monthly Book Club meeting. However, you should not consider chores as self-care. For example, grocery shopping alone on a Monday evening is a chore, not self-care. Your self-care activities should also not include alcohol, as that can be an unhealthy coping mechanism.

You work hard for your seniors, your community, and your co-workers. Make sure you are working hard for yourself too by committing to practicing self-care on a regular basis. You will find that you can feel the benefits after just a few months, and people around you will notice too.

How do you take care of yourself outside of work and home obligations? I’d love to hear from you in the comments so that we can learn from and encourage one another. Cheers to taking care of ourselves too!

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Comments   Post a Comment

simonne 28th Mar 2019 Support worker
Only on day 4 and already feel stressed.

Not enough staff, only me to manage 5 areas (2 are memory care).
I am only in training but my head feels frazzled already!

Nesha 30th Mar 2019 Activities Coordinator
This happened to me. No one told me what to do, just gave me a half full activity cupboard and said make posters, activity calendars and don't leave anyone out. It's really really stressful.

Golden carers is a god send. They have loads of quizzes that help get you talking. I start with a small table of people who sit colouring every day and just go through nursery rhymes. They love remembering them. Proverbs quizzes go down well too.

You'll get there. It's really difficult having absolutely no guidance and not enough staff but it's a very fullfilling job. Take your time, get to know your residents and you'll find your own way to do it.
Try not to take your work hone with you but if/when you do make sure you put it away an hour before bed and have some time for yourself. You can do this!!! Best of luck to you simmone. Xxxx
Jenny 19th Feb 2019 Personal Carer
I feel I’m slowly burning out, I don’t take much time for myself. Usually money commitments. It’s usually work then home. I love working I’m the oldest one at work and don’t plan to retire but I either don’t make the time or I don’t have the money, I’m working hard so I don’t have lots of commitments when I do retire. I did retire once and Didn’t like it and am still working at 70, my friends and family are off holidaying or working
Solange 25th Feb 2019 Diversional Therapist
Hi Jenny, I feel for you, it is hard when you don’t have time for yourself. However, don’t continue in this way or you will burn out and won’t be able to work. You have to be brave and ask for help from your peers or state your case to management. You will enjoy your work better if you are not under stress. Please, seek help before it is too late.

Glenda 13th Feb 2019 Lifestyle Co-ordinator
I really struggle with the whole self care thing
Haley 14th Feb 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
I must admit that I do too, Glenda. In fact, I think most Activity Professionals struggle with putting themselves first every once in awhile - the fact that we are great caregivers makes us good at our jobs but not so good at caring for ourselves.
I hope you can make small steps to taking better care of yourself this month and this year - you are worth it!
Nesha 12th Feb 2019 Activities Coordinator
I think I'm hitting a burn put at the moment. I've been moody all weekend, unmotivated let week now my skin is dry and breaking out and I have ulcers in my mouth.
I've only been in the job 5 weeks.

I saw this email whilst I was making Valentine's activity packs earlier and decided to have a much needed night off. I had a bath, a face mask, a good movie and now I'm reading a chapter of my book with a hot drink before bed :)
Thankyou very much for the advice I will definetly be baring this in mind :)
Haley 13th Feb 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
Hi Nesha,
The first months of a new job can be especially stressful. I'm so proud of you for noticing and listening to your body. You can't give your all to your residents when you don't have anything to give. Good for you for taking time for yourself - I hope you noticed a difference in your energy and health, and that you make self-care a part of your regular routine. Cheering you on!
Lesley 12th Feb 2019 Recreation Therapist
Without Golden Carers to lean on l would have burnt out months ago.
I like to easy steps for preventing burnout and at the present l am making up a look after yourself sheet for families, caring for a loved one with dementia, so that will help me out there also.
Your site gives new ideas to old activities, and the quizzes for my group are wonderful. They fill in that time before lunch arrives and all the clients are worrying about is lunch. Thanks again to all who have part in the wonderful site of Golden Carers.
Haley 13th Feb 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
I'm so thankful you find community, validation, and value here at Golden Carers, Lesley! Your residents are lucky to have you - and remember to take time to care for yourself too.
Haley 10th Feb 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
Haley has submitted a new article: 15 Ways To Practise Self Care And Avoid Burnout
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