Mainstream Living

Self Care for Staff

Direct care staff (and their supervisors) spend so much of their time advocating for members that they sometimes overlook the importance of their own self care.  While the rewards of a direct care job are plentiful, it can take a mental and physical toll.  Here are 10 tips to practice self care, manage stress, and boost your well-being - even on the most difficult days.

  • Get up and move!  This can be a quick walk around the office or home or a quick bike ride after work.  Regular brisk walking can improve your mood, balance, and coordination.
  • Write it down and throw it away!  Declutter your brain, write down your thoughts, prioritize what’s bothering you, and learn what triggers you.
  • Prep meals and snacks!  Don't get “hangry”?  Drops in serum glucose can trigger stress responses.
  • Start a positivity file: online, on your phone, or in a paper journal.  Every time something good happens, write it down and refer to that file when you are having a rough day.
  • Shake up your routine!  Increase your brain’s “plasticity” by doing simple things differently (like brushing your teeth with your other hand).  This assists your brain to process changes at work with greater ease.
  • Drink plenty of water.  Dehydration can cause mood swings, decreased energy levels and difficulty concentrating.
  • Set aside five minutes a day for play.  Do something easy that doesn’t require too much thought.  Include the members, and you are adding joy to their lives.  Try coloring, dancing, singing, or even sitting on a swing. 
  • Be punctual.  Arrive early to your shift or meetings and appointments. This reduces stress in your life. 
  • Activate your self-soothing system.  This can help you calm down after a difficult encounter.  Stretch, put on scented lotion, savor the taste of your favorite beverage, look at some favorite pictures, or listen to a song.  Think of all five senses and stimulate one (or more).

Make self-care a priority!  You are reading this and that’s a good start.  Make this intentional.  Self-care shouldn’t be a reward - it should be part of the process.

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