‘Normally’ (read non-pandemic times) our industry can be stressful. There are the usual workload, time pressures, compliance requirements and lack of funding, but most of us also worry about:
- Is our work making a difference?
- Do I have the necessary skills?
- How can I be more effective in my role?
- Am I valued and adequately remunerated?
- My supervisor is also busy and I don’t often see them in person, how can I get more support?
Mental health issues can occur in all workplaces but two key causes are high work demands and remote work. Both are usually very present in our industry. In January 2022, thanks to COVID-19, we can add the following:
- Am I going to take this virus home to my family and make them sick?
- Do we have enough staff to cover the roster?
- I can’t support my participant to get out of bed as they are a two person lift and my colleague is a close contact?
- The changing rules and regulations – masks one day, gone the next then N95 masks (if you can find them)
- Do we have enough PPE? Am I wearing it correctly? I can’t remember if I had training on this?
- The person I am supporting won’t get a test even if they have symptoms, now what?
- The increasing pressure to do (and PAY) overtime.
It’s not surprising that you are tired. It’s more than likely you have chosen to work in this industry because you care. But here is a secret…..No matter how hard you work, you won’t be able to fix everyone’s problems.
The NDIS has long been described as the plane that is being built while it is taking off. This is still partially true, but right now we are all passengers too. And if we don’t put our oxygen masks on first, we are no good to anyone.
The other reason to look after yourself first is that you limit your own psychological responses to situations, client trauma/ behaviour of concern and workplace stress. You want to be calm and have increased capacity to respond quickly and appropriately.
We all have our sparkle activities, the thing we do just because we enjoy them and they give us back our sparkle. It might be a hot bath or playing a video game or going for a run. There’s no judgement, you just need to get joy from your activity. But too often these activities only focus on one area of self-care. And even more often, we don’t prioritise doing them.
In the current climate, developing a self-care plan to fall back on may be helpful. A self-care plan can help you enhance your health and wellbeing, manage your stress, and maintain your professionalism. It will help you to continuously learn to identify your stress and overwhelmed triggers as well as the activities and practices that support your wellbeing as a professional and help you to sustain positive self-care in the long-term.
Self-care is a personal matter. And everyone needs to tailor a plan that is as unique as you are. It should consider what you do at work and outside of work to look after yourself.
It’s important to consider many different angles to self care. Depending on your priorities and preferences they may all be present in your plan just in different volumes:
- Professional structure
Physical doesn’t just involve exercises. It can also include:
- Developing a regular sleep routine
- Take your dog for a walk after work
- Use your sick leave – that’s what it is there for!
Psychological self-care is all about doing the things that make you feel good. It could be:
- Reading a book
- Playing a video game
- Reflecting on the things you are grateful for
Emotional self care is a bit deeper than psychological self-care. It’s all about building awareness of your own emotions and why you act (or react). You might:
- See a psychologist or life coach
Spiritual self care isn’t just about religion. But that could be a big part of it. I see spiritual self-care as a connection with something bigger than yourself. Depending on your beliefs this might mean:
- Going for a swim in the ocean
- Attending church
- Perform Salah
Relationship self-care is about surrounding yourself with people that make you feel good. It’s about acknowledging that you can’t control how other people behave, only how you react to it. So in practising relationship self-care, you might consider:
- Hugging a loved one
- Develop friendships that are supportive
- Write three good things that you did each day
Professional structure involves activities that help you to work consistently at the professional level expected of you. For example:
- Engage in regular supervision or consulting with a more experienced colleague
- Set up a peer-support group, and
- Be strict with professional boundaries
And finally learning self-care. Learning new skills can help see your working life through fresh eyes. It can also bring you into contact with different people and situations. All of this can help with workplace stress. How do you show up each day as your best self? You might:
- Listen to a podcast
- Enrol in a short course
- Read an article about something linked to your job but that you don’t yet fully understand.
In an ideal world, you will have self-care activities from each of these categories. But the key to self-care – listen to your body and be kind to yourself.
Please contact us for further information.