As a disability support worker, challenges are commonplace, which means it’s critical to have the stamina, energy and brainpower to tackle them. It also means keeping a healthy, positive mindset. And while all of this is easy enough to put to paper, it’s a whole other story to garner and put in to action throughout the actual workday.
As you progress throughout the working week, allow yourself time to stop and think about the things that make you who you are, and embrace them in order to maintain your own wellbeing.
Here are a few steps to get you started.
1. Remove the guilt
If you find yourself contemplating whether you should invest time in how you feel and what your body is telling you, then that’s the first place you should start. In no instance should you feel guilty about applying care towards your own wellbeing – be it physically or emotionally. And if all else fails, remember that those you are caring for in your line or work are likely to feel better when they know you’re already on the path for caring for yourself. It all comes back around.
2. Create a healthy sleep cycle
There’s no need to harp on about the benefits of a good sleep, but it’s worth touching on how you can go about doing so. Creating a positive sleep cycle that’s consistent, substantial and tailored to your lifestyle means you’re better equipped to take on what the following day has in store.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends considering your daily rest as ‘sleep hygiene’, focusing on maintaining a constant schedule. That means keeping the same bedtime and wake-ups during the week as on the weekends, where possible. Additionally, establishing a relaxation regime before heading off to bed is paramount to quality rest. Instead of scrolling through e-mails before you nod off, switch to listening to calming music, reading a book or doing a crossword. Avoid screens if you can.
3. Do something for you and you only on a daily basis
Think about all of the things you love to do and the little parts of life that make you happy. No matter how big or how small, write them down. And then do one each day. Whether it’s buying something for your wardrobe, getting a haircut, going for a run or seeing a friend – do something that’s purely for your own enjoyment.
4. Take time to reflect
As the nature of the job can become overwhelming, it’s important to maintain a positive approach towards mental health over the course of your career. To start off, keep a diary of any issues or hurdles that popped up during the day, how each instance made you feel and how you overcame it. If you’re still trying to find a solution, jot down potential ways to resolve the challenge. This will help your mind problem solve, and will allow you to remove the potential of your mind doing this while you’re trying to get some sleep.
Journaling will also allow you to keep in touch with how you’re feeling, and monitor any patterns that occur. This goes hand in hand with taking action, if need be, where you’re feeling any consistent negative feelings, and respecting your need for potential additional support.
5. Remember, support is always available
Keeping in line with checking in on how you’re feeling on a frequent basis, it’s just as important to remember help is also there, if you need it. Hotlines like beyondblue can help you talk through any anxiety or stress you may be experiencing, while resources like National Disability Services offers plenty of guides to help you keep up-to-date with industry information.