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Self Care for Health Workers

Health workers, such as social workers, counsellors, occupational therapists and nurses live professional lives committed to the wellbeing of others. For many, this professional choice was born from a personal passion and commitment to people, and in many ways helping others fills their own cup as well. However after years on the job, countless hours of giving to others, we all too often start to see exhaustion, stress and the early signs of burn out.

Being a health worker may come with the added distress of dealing with difficult people and situations on a daily basis. This is why self-care is so important in helping to prevent burnout, especially as it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. There are ways to acknowledge and manage this overwhelming feeling. The first step is being able to recognise the signs of burnout, such as lack of motivation or enthusiasm for tasks, feeling emotionally drained and low levels of energy.

Once we are aware of the symptoms, there are also some simple strategies that can be used to help prevent and manage them. Firstly, it’s important to nurture empathy and understanding for yourself; take the time to really listen and process your own feelings, as well as those of others. This will help reduce stress levels and boost resilience.

It is also essential to accept support from colleagues, friends, family and other professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it; this can come in many forms such as mentoring or even just taking a break from the job.

Finally, it is important to be mindful of your own physical and mental health; ensuring enough sleep, nourishing food and regular exercise can go a long way in maintaining energy levels. Taking time for yourself to re-charge and participate in activities that bring you joy are also essential.

Self-care is the most important tool in helping to prevent burnout and maintain good mental health in health workers. By taking steps towards acknowledging our own needs, understanding our limits and accepting support from others we can go a long way towards preventing burnout before it occurs.