With the Baby Boomer generation fast approaching retirement age, elder care is one of the fastest-growing fields in today’s economy. In fact, experts at the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expect demand for home health care aids alone to grow by 48% between 2012 and 2022. However, professional caregiving (whether in the home or a facility setting) does have some risks. In fact, caregivers are more likely than other professionals to experience trouble sleeping, depression, and distressing thought patterns. Fortunately, there are things you can do to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Professional caregivers see the darker side of life every day. As a professional caregiver, you deal with those who are dying, who experience chronic pain, and who have serious illnesses that cannot be cured (and in many cases, can’t even be effectively controlled). Caregivers who employed an active, problem-solving approach to their work experienced less stress than those who simply reacted by feeling helpless. For example, you may not be able to cure a patient’s dementia, but you can provide palliative care and enjoyable activities to help ease her pain and reduce her level of emotional upset.
Exercise is one of the most effective stress-relievers there is. Do something compatible with your fitness level, setting a specific, consistent time each day to devote to exercise, and making sure to warm up and cool down. Doing an activity you really enjoy (such as taking a walk in the morning or playing a sport you love) will help you stick with it and serve as a healthy stress outlet. It can also help to use your workout as a transition time; a jog after work, for example, can help you transition from work to home without “taking work home with you.”
Making the best of your commute
As a caregiver, you already know the sacrifices this role can entail. For some caregivers, patients that opt for in-home living can offer room and boarding in order to have the convenience of round the clock care. But not all caregiving jobs offer housing for the specialist, so it may still be a lengthy commute from your current residence. In situations like these, looking into short-term rentals near your patient’s location could be the most practical change to make your work-life balance easier to attain. With a shorter commute and more convenience to your place of work, where you spend most of your time anyways, could be the most logical decision to make in order to find more balance in living as a caregiver. You can also make the best of a long commute by using the time to practice mindfulness.
Be Realistic With Your Work Schedule
Professional caregiving attracts highly empathetic individuals who genuinely enjoy making life better for others. Such individuals, however, often have a hard time saying no. It’s important to know how many hours you can handle, and to exercise your “no” muscle when asked to go beyond that limit. Keeping your workload manageable allows you to spend time recharging. That doesn’t just benefit you, it benefits your patients. According to a professional association of physicians who care for cancer patients, avoiding burnout help you provide good-quality care when you go back to work. If you struggle with saying no (or any other aspect of self-care), it can help to remember that caring for yourself is just as much an investment in the well-being of your patients as it is an investment in your personal life.
When your occupation calls for you to help maintain a healthy and comfortable living and setting for others, it can be easy to disregard and overlook your own well-being and happiness as a caregiver. With these types of tips, we look to approach this with aim to ensure that you can wake up every day looking forward to caring for others with a healthy and content mindset. It’s important for you to ensure your own well-being is in a balanced space in order for you to offer the same positivity to your patients.
Amanda Kaestner is a lover of all things technical and innovative. Having grown up with a nurse for a mom and having years of experience volunteering in various areas of the healthcare industry, she’s continuously seeking what the latest news and advice in advancing and improving health entail. Great health starts with healthy eating, active lifestyles, and a positive mentality and it’s something she believes everyone can always build on.