Self care for helpers

I am aware that quite a few regular readers of this blog are actually other helping professions, so I have decided it is timely to include some resources specifically for them.  Working as a counsellor can be tough too, and it is really important that we remember to take care of ourselves, even if only so we keep having capacity to take care of others.

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The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement has a range of fantastic resources, including this one, specifically for those working in the helping professions.  The complete resource is available here[1].pdf, but some simple tips they recommend for staying “ok” include:

Self-Care Tips for Health care workers

Find time for yourself every day and start small: Do one nurturing activity each day. This could be as simple as taking 10 minutes of quiet time to sit and relax. You may not notice it right away, but making one small change to your daily routine can have incredible results in the longer term. Imagine if you started walking up two flights of stairs per day, instead of using the elevator, what might happen after three months?

Having time out: Planning and taking annual leave. Taking time to focus on your personal life, helps us maintain a balance between our personal and professional lives.

Delegate: Learn to ask for help both at work and at home. Are there things that you are willing to let go and let others do their own way?

Learn to say no (or yes) more often: Are you the person that takes on extra duties at work? Are you the crisis support line for your friends and family? It can be draining to be the source of all help for all people. Can you think of just one thing you could say no to? Or maybe you have stopped saying yes to new opportunities.

Exercise: Put regular physical activity on your daily calendar. Walking is the easiest and cheapest form of physical activity. Even a short walk around the block, can boost your spirits.

Try deep breathing: Also, called diaphragm breathing, this technique can help to reduce stress. The technique is di cult at rst, but the more you practice it, the easier it becomes.

Assess your Trauma Inputs: Do you work with clients who have experienced trauma? Do you read about, see photos of, and are generally exposed to di cult stories and images at your workplace? It’s important to recognize the amount of trauma information that we absorb during a day. Also, be aware of trauma inputs outside of work.

Learn more about Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma: Recognise the signs, symptoms and necessary self-care strategies to address the problem. Regular professional training is one of the best ways for helpers to stay renewed, informed and connected with peers. Read books, visit websites and attend workshops to validate and learn new strategies.

Consider joining a Supervision/Peer Support Group: In addition to any clinical supervision you are already attending, consider forming a small group of colleagues who meet regularly to debrief and support one another.

Seek further help: Knowing when to reach out for help – and doing it – might be the most important part of your self-care plan. No one can do everything alone. This is especially true where mental health is involved. Speak to your manager, clinical supervisor, colleagues, friends, family, and/or other health professionals such as a Counsellor or GP.