Empowering Care & Support Workers: Balancing Self-Care and Support for Others

Empowering Care & Support Workers: Balancing Self-Care and Support for Others

Care and Support Workers spend a lot of their time and energy making sure that other people’s needs are met. While that work is essential and rewarding, it’s a role where balance is required. Not only can care work be physically demanding, but it keeps you on your toes mentally and requires compassion.

With all of that in mind, it’s essential that those working in care are empowered to practice self-care, meet their needs and get support.

Let’s explore what can make self-care challenging, why it’s so important and how to make it a priority. Read on to find some self-care tips and ways to build and rely on your support network.

Why Self-Care Is Important

The self part of self-care can often make people feel like they’re being selfish when they attend to their own needs. That’s not the case at all, although it’s a common reason why it gets moved down the list of priorities. 

Another reason that people struggle, even when they know what good care looks like, is that they think of self-care as pampering. However, it’s actually more about taking actions and decisions that maintain your physical and mental health.

Self-care is essential because people who are run down physically and mentally aren’t able to deal with the challenges that daily life throws at them. When someone neglects themselves, it also means they’re not in the best position to meet their care and support responsibilities. Think of self-care as creating an easier life and making you better at your job!

Tips To Prioritise Your Well-Being

Care and Support Workers often have busy and demanding lives, which means fitting in some self-care seems difficult. Make it a non-negotiable, just as you would with the mandatory parts of your role, like administering medicine. 

Even if you keep self-care high on your priorities list, it can still feel challenging to make time for it. Setting boundaries when it comes to taking breaks is an essential skill that you’ll need for looking after yourself.

Once you start prioritising and setting boundaries, you’ll soon find that you have some space to notice where you could delegate tasks, whether at home or in other areas of your life. Sharing the responsibilities means you don’t have to carry the load all of the time. 

Communication is key to all of these tips. Follow these steps to make incorporating self-care easier.

  1. Identify your self-care priorities, such as breaks, some quiet time alone each day or the ability to go for a walk to get exercise a few times a week.

  2. Set boundaries around your priorities and communicate them to others, such as not taking on too many additional tasks that are unrealistic in times when you have an increased workload, or sticking to taking your full break. 

  3. Lighten the load by finding other ways to do tasks, removing unnecessary work or seeing if your colleagues can support where appropriate.

Ways To Practice Self-Care and Get Support

Self-care isn’t about retail therapy or booking a spa day. There are many different ways you can ensure you’re meeting your needs when it comes to your well-being. Here are some ideas for boosting your physical and mental health.

  • Making time for short breaks to take a deep breath and calm your mind

  • Taking longer breaks to eat a healthy meal

  • Making time for your interests and hobbies

  • Spending time in nature

  • Exercising through activities such as walking, yoga, swimming or going to the gym

  • Socialising with friends and family

  • Getting the required amount of sleep and rest

  • Focusing on being present when cooking healthy meals or doing something creative

  • Staying hydrated throughout the day

Once you stop thinking that self-care is selfish, you might still feel too tired to look after yourself. Getting support is an essential part of the equation. Having a support network makes self-care possible. Your network should include friends, family and the people you work with. Remember to lean on them and get their help so that you can find the energy to help yourself. 

If you feel your support network is limited, join some new activities, get some professional mental health support to alleviate the burden and reach out to people you work with. You can also connect with other carers through local support networks and online forums. Even talking to people who understand your challenges can be a relief.

Striking The Right Balance

When you’re a Care and Support Worker, you want to do the best for the people you care for and support. It can often make it difficult to switch off. However, taking breaks, enjoying your hobbies and looking after your mind and body is vital. You have to meet your needs to be in a position to meet anyone else’s.

Making your well-being a priority means setting boundaries, delegating tasks and asking for support when necessary. Although it can feel challenging, you’ll soon start to feel the benefits, and so will the people you’re supporting. Your capacity to listen, show compassion and be resilient and creative will increase, making daily tasks a pleasure instead of a chore.

So go ahead and make your next job application, but be sure to take some time when you're ready for a break - and a bit of self-care. You'll need to be in the very best mindset to be the best you...