- 19 February 2013
- 3 min read
Looking after you so you can look ahead
Keeping your body ticking over is really important. Support and care work often involve being on your feet for much of a shift, going out for long days on trips, helping with housework and generally running around like a mad thing. Whilst there is some cardio benefit to running around like a mad thing, it's really easy to turn to coffee and fags to keep yourself pepped up. Unfortunately, this is only a short-term strategy and you will eventually run out of proper energy, becoming left twitchy and strung-out – not much use for your service users.
Have breakfast! I'll say it once and I'll say it again. Proper breakfast. This isn't easy when you have meetings or are staying in someone's house but it's not impossible.
My favourite getting-ready-for-support-work breakfast is porridge. If you're sleeping over, you can still have this. Take your oats in a bit of Tupperware, add a dash of milk and water and shove it in the microwave. A little will go a long way to filling you up and it keeps you going. Between porridge and ensuring I have a mid-morning snack with my coffee, my tolerance and mental clarity have massively improved – I can't recommend it enough!
The biggest barrier to this is the social care arena has got to be stress. There's such a sense of urgency in this work and, for the compassionate and diligent, not being able to be a superhero can get us down. Talk to your colleagues. Don't bottle it up. Likely, they've been through just the same problems and they can empathise, if not help.
You also mustn't work every shift you’re asked to. The money is tempting but you've got to get some time to take off your work hat and put on your ‘you’ hat. Make sure you get at least one chance a week to get to the pub with friends, have them over for dinner or play football in the park with your kids – whatever you fancy.
Keeping your spiritual health in line is often something we push to the back; getting the kids’ dinner ready and getting to work on time can seem more pressing on a day-to-day basis. A nice way of doing this are affirmations. No wait, don’t stop reading! ‘Affirmation’ can seem a little saccharine to those of us less persuaded by the New Age movement but honestly, a daily vow to improve a habit can really take a load off your mind.
I recently started making an effort to stop being so hard on myself and others. It’s exhausting having a stern teacher or policeman in your head, criticising you and others for being slow or boring or ineffectual. So I let it go. Every morning for two weeks or so, I repeated some sentences to myself, vowing to give myself and others a rest.
And guess what? The world didn’t fall apart when I stopped internally criticising everything! All that happened was that I became much calmer and my mind stopped racing. I highly recommend it. Take time to work out what’s weighing on your mind and vow to pay attention and let it go.
Try one of these today. Don’t worry about all three if you’re busy – you can just add one into your routine. The social care industry is hard enough without hobbling yourself from the start and your life truly can be simpler.