Self-Care for Care Givers, Mental Health Workers, and Frontline Social Service Providers
Since the COVID-19 pandemic entered our lives, the world as we knew it changed drastically. We were told to stay home, practice social distancing, and implement numerous other personal protective measures.
Unfortunately, one group of people didn't have the opportunity to stay home: our essential workers. Under this umbrella were caregivers, mental health workers, and frontline service providers. Many of these individuals had to work overtime and put themselves at risk to meet patients' needs. Being the most “essential” workers also made these people the most vulnerable to things like burnout, compassion fatigue, and even exposure to the virus itself.
Now that we are two years into the pandemic and COVID-19 has not yet been fully eradicated, many of these important workers are getting tired and experiencing burnout. They have been so busy taking care of others that they may not have been putting the time and effort into meeting their own needs. At this point, these groups of people must ensure they are incorporating self-care into their daily lives so they can continue to care for others.
Recognizing the Signs of Burnout
People who work in the care industry may not realize that they are experiencing burnout, or they may push past it by telling themselves it's just part of the job and there's nothing they can do about it. Some common signs of burnout people in this industry may be feeling include:
- Feeling mentally detached from work
- No longer enjoying or feeling pleasure from doing one's job
- Not wanting to go to work or feeling unmotivated
- Experiencing self-doubt or feeling like a failure
- Lacking the energy to complete necessary tasks
- Becoming impatient with patients, coworkers, or family members
- Having trouble concentrating at work
- Having trouble getting good quality sleep
- No longer feeling satisfaction from one's achievements
- Struggling with unexplained physical ailments like changes in weight or digestive problems
Understanding Why Burnout Occurs
There are many reasons burnout can occur. The caregivers, mental health care workers, and social service providers who have worked throughout the pandemic have been expected to be selfless and give much of themselves to the people in their care, regardless of the personal consequences. This is one of the most common causes of burnout. Some other factors that could be contributing to their burnout include:
- Being overwhelmed by their patient's needs and having more on their plate than they can realistically handle
- Not getting enough time off or not having a good enough separation between work and home
- Adjustment to changes in procedures, like having to deal with the stress of learning to communicate with patients through video chat or another type of virtual communication when face-to-face meetings were not an option
- Not having enough control over their work environment, schedule, or workload
- Feeling unappreciated or as if the hard work they are doing is going unnoticed
- Lacking a good support system either at work or in their personal life, causing them to feel isolated and lonely
- Having a very active or intense workday and, as such, being required to maintain high levels of energy throughout much of the day, causing mental exhaustion
- Feeling as if people come to them for help but they have no one to go to for help themselves
Combating Burnout Through Self-Care
Practicing proper self-care habits can help prevent burnout from occurring or soften the effect of it once it has. Self-care can look different from person to person, though in general, it refers to taking time every day to do the things necessary to look after one's own overall health and well-being. This should not be considered selfishness but should be recognized for its necessity in upkeeping one's own mental and physical health to be able to care for others well. This can help prevent mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Some ways those in the healthcare industry can practice self-care during this stressful time in their profession include:
- Reminding themselves that what they do matters. Their work has great value and they are changing lives for the better. Without people taking on the responsibility of caring for those in need, many patients wouldn't be able to experience relief from serious mental and physical health conditions.
- Practicing self-compassion and not self-pity by reminding themselves that they are doing the best they can and it is okay to have a bad day.
- Making sure to care for their physical health by getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and exercising regularly.
- Looking to find the positive in each day, even on bad days.
If you're struggling with your mental health seek help as soon as possible so you can do what you do best while feeling your best.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and most of the country was hunkering down at home due to CDC protocols, there was one group of people that didn't have the option to not go to work. This group of people was the essential workers and among them were caregivers, mental health care providers, and frontline social service providers. While the nation would likely be in a very dire place if they hadn't courageously stepped up and put others' needs above their own, this could have and likely has taken a toll on their mental health. If this sounds like you, and you're an essential, front-line health worker who is struggling with your mental health, talk to someone at Achieve Medical Center today to find relief. At Achieve Medical Center we want to help you achieve your best possible mental health. Call (619) 381-8249 today to learn more.