carer is on phone trying to combat stress

Stress is a part of daily life for millions of people across the UK – and those working in home care are particularly prone to high levels of stress. A survey by Mind revealed that almost nine in ten (88%) primary care workers find their work-life stressful, significantly higher than the wider UK workforce (56%).

Juggling long, tiring shifts with their own personal lives, and trying to make sure their clients are well cared for can be extremely stressful for those working in home care – and if stress isn’t dealt with appropriately, it can lead to much worse physical and emotional consequences.

It’s vital that home care professionals suffering from stress can find ways to manage it.

Here are six tips for those working in home care to reduce their stress levels and boost their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Air your feelings

Caring for elderly or vulnerable people on a daily basis can take its toll – it can be emotionally draining to see people living in isolated conditions, struggling to get by and needing assistance to carry out basic tasks. Sometimes home carers can become attached to those they are caring for, and this can cause stress and upset if they fall ill or need to be moved to residential care. It’s important that home care professionals have someone to talk to, rather than keep their emotions bottled up. Finding a colleague to chat to regularly can help – if home carers can support one another and offer an outlet for feelings in this way, it can really help to alleviate stress.

Make sure you’re taking regular breaks

With so many client visits to fit into a day, many home carers are going without breaks in order to ensure they meet their obligations. But this can lead to burnout and increased stress levels, which benefit no one in the long term. Make sure you’re taking the breaks you have a legal right to – your time and attendance solution should give you an insight into how long you’re allowed to take, depending on your shift patterns. During your break, try to take your mind off work for a little while. Go for a short, brisk walk, grab some healthy lunch, read a chapter of a good book or do some yoga, if you can fit it in. You’ll return to your shift refreshed, and your stress levels will have diminished slightly.

Be organised

Try to ensure you’re organised in every area of your life – both personal and professional. If you lack organizational skills, things can naturally feel more chaotic, hectic and rushed, which can lead to higher stress levels. Keep lists and notes to help you if you need to, and use time management tools to ensure you’re fitting everything in, whether it’s picking the kids up from school or making sure you reach your next client visit on time.

Talk to supervisors

Don’t be afraid to air your worries about stress to your superiors. There are often support networks in place to help those suffering from stress in the workplace – your employer might be able to set you up with a counsellor, change your shift patterns or take some other form of action that can help you fight stress and achieve a more balanced mindset.

Look after yourself

Looking after yourself with a balanced diet and regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress. Exercise might not be the first thing on your mind when you finish a long shift at work, but it’s important to stay in shape – it can reduce anxiety levels and keep you from feeling stressed during the day by releasing natural endorphins into the body. Eating junk food throughout the day might provide an instant sugar rush, which can sometimes feel necessary, but these constant energy highs and lows can lead to feelings of fatigue and, you guessed it, stress. Treat yourself occasionally, but try to stick to a mostly healthy diet to keep your stress levels from rising.

Learn to relax

When your work shift ends, you need to learn how to relax and switch off. This is different for everyone – some people like to do some yoga, some people prefer to curl up with a good book. Going for a walk is a great way to switch off, and some people simply like to switch off their phone and television and catch up with their family. Find what works for you in terms of relaxation – a hot bath, thirty minutes of pilates, a cycle around the park… whatever it is, you can turn to it when you’re feeling particularly stressed, and it’ll help you shake off the pressures of the day.

For more information about how home care professionals can beat stress, as well as how technology can be used to enhance productivity in the home care sector, keep following the Unique IQ blog.