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5 self-care strategies for people in caring professions

By Fi Darby

If you work in the community services sector, 'incredibly rewarding' and 'emotionally draining' are terms that you may normally use to describe your job. By choosing this career pathway, you care about other people, communities and society. This caring nature is what makes you great at your job. 

No matter how hard you work, you won’t be able to fix everyone’s problems. Realising this can lead to increased emotional stress and even exhaustion. 

SkillsTalk share five self-care strategies people in caring professions should consider to avoid burnout.

Job roles in high demand

The increase in demand for community services employees has been impressive. Welfare support workers in a range of job roles are required across Australia. Even before the impact of COVID-19, the prediction for caring profession roles was very strong growth. This makes a community services career move a great idea if you’re looking for a stable and rewarding job.

Mental health and community services

family concept

Mental health issues can occur in all workplaces but two key causes are high work demands and remote work. The recent State of Workplace Mental Health study suggests about half of Australians working in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector would classify their workplace as ‘mentally healthy’. This matches the overall picture for Australian employment.

What self-care strategies should people in caring professions consider?

Adopting a set of self-care strategies to suit your personality and lifestyle can make a huge difference to your resilience in the workplace. Here are five worth considering.

1. Keep a close eye on your own wellbeing.

If you work in community services, you’re almost certainly good at looking after the wellbeing of other people. However, you may not be good at taking care of your mental health. If you’re feeling a bit slow or lacking motivation, it could be your body’s reaction to the stress of an emotional job. Spend a short time at the start of each day thinking about how you feel. If things don’t seem right, ask your colleagues and friends if they have noticed any changes.

2. Consider your work environment.

Community services professionals work in a variety of settings. Whether you're centre or community based, your working environment can have a huge impact on your stress levels. There are lots of elements to this, including physical spaces, noise levels and equipment suitability. If something doesn’t feel right, talk to your boss and explain the impact your environment is having on you.

3. Investigate flexible working.

woman working from home

Talk to anyone who’s adopted flexible working, and they’ll tell you it’s helped ease their day-to-day stress. If you’re finding it hard to fit in family and social life, talk to your employer about flexible working opportunities. Many community services roles are suited to a flexible approach and you may find Australian law protects your flexible working rights. Working hours that suit you can be a great antidote to the emotional side of community services work.

4. Be more assertive.

You’re probably working in community services because you want to do your very best for other people. Self-sacrifice has plenty of rewards but it’s important to remember you can’t do everything. For example, learning how to say ‘no’ when a task exceeds your ability, training or time allowance can help you feel more in control of your daily work life.

5. Take your breaks and holidays.

Wanting to always do your very best for people can take its toll on both your mental and physical wellbeing. In the long run, missing breaks will make you feel not only exhausted but a touch resentful too. Even if you stay at home and rest, time away from work is essential. 

Move on up with the right qualifications

Don’t let workplace stress hold you back when it comes to your caring career. 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.

Upskilled offer a wide range of nationally-recognised qualifications. All of which can help you work your way up the career ladder. If you'd like to specialise, you could study CHC43315 - Certificate IV in Mental Health or CHC51015 - Diploma of Counselling. 

Whatever your aspirations, get in touch with the Upskilled team today on 1300 009 924. Your rewarding career in community services is just around the corner.
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