As caregivers we try to have an endless supply of compassion and empathy. We attempt to put ourselves in the shoes of those whom we care for and assist through their confusion and suffering. But being in the presence of and absorbing the strong emotions that come with this job can drain our wells of compassion and empathy. We have a responsibility to ourselves, as well as the youth we care for, to manage our stress and anticipate compassion fatigue (the overwhelming stress that can come for caring for others and subsequent burnout) the best we can. One way we can help combat compassion fatigue is through practicing self care.
Self care can mean a lot of different things to a different people.
This blog focuses on some physical self care options. The problem for caregivers is that the stress of compassion fatigue does not only impact our emotional side; it can also impact our bodies. People experiencing compassion fatigue can begin to lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed, like physical activities. They can also begin to decrease healthy habits and replace them with not so healthy habits, like eating more fast food or increasing alcohol consumption. If you notice a decrease in your typical physical routines or an increase in unhealthy eating and drinking habits, here are some suggestions to help get you on a different track.
Some Physical Self Care Suggestions:
• Stretch for 5 minutes mid shift or right when you wake up in the morning. Encourage the kids you’re working with to stretch with you.
• Bring a water bottle to work and commit to drinking 2 full bottles during your shift/work day.
• Ride your bike to work.
• Sit still and breathe deeply for 1 minute.
• Make your next Dr. or Dentist appointment TODAY.
• Schedule a physical activity (like skiing, a walk, or walking the mall) with a friend after work. It will be harder to get out of it if you have a buddy.
• Go out dancing!
• Commit to eating a fruit and vegetable serving every day for a week.
• Jump rope for 1 minute.
• For one week, don’t skip sleep to get things done. See what happens.
• Take a nap when you get home from work.
• What are some ideas from your team, what has worked for you?