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Self-Care for a Support Worker

2012 February 13

Being a support worker can be a wonderfully rewarding career.  However, like other positions that are involved in supporting and caring for vulnerable families, it can be incredibly emotionally draining, too.

It takes a special kind of person to be a support worker, for sure – but even if you are that special type, you still may find yourself feeling drained and emotionally battered after dealing with particularly tough cases.

Self-care is incredibly important for anybody working in such an environment.  Following are a list of ideas that you might want to employ to help you cope with the emotional stresses and strains of being a support worker.


Put on your cape

It may sound silly to some, but visualisation techniques can be very useful for helping us to deal with difficult situations, especially emotionally charged ones.  You might wish to try the cape visualisation when going to, and leaving, work.


As you approach your workplace, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in order to centre yourself.  Imagine yourself putting on a thick, bright white cape – this will be your emotional protection throughout the day. Then, when you leave, centre yourself again and imagine taking the cape off.  It sounds very simplistic but it’s a very effective way to help you leave your work at the workplace.



If you’re finding it very hard to deal with the emotions that a particular case is stirring up in you, make sure you talk to somebody about it.  Keeping strong feelings such as these inside is not healthy.  If you are struggling a lot with a particular case, try to talk to one of your superiors about perhaps getting some support yourself.  You may find that a past trauma of your own has been triggered by a negative situation in the family you’re supporting.  Seeking help before it gets on top of you is far more desirable than waiting for it to swallow you up.


Take time out for you

We all have busy lives, but we all deserve to take time out to care for ourselves.  Those of us who work in emotionally charged careers such as that of a support worker may find themselves emotionally exhausted as well as physically after a long, hard week.  Be sure to set aside at least a couple of hours at the weekend to do something that makes you really happy – making art, meeting friends for coffee, or just lounging in the bath with a glass of something delicious are all great ways to unwind.  Be sure to surround yourself with positive energy when you are outside of work – swear off the 10 o’clock news if needs be!


Remember the successes

The majority of cases that a support worker will deal with will have what could be called a “happy ending”, and the rewarding nature of the job is usually enough to help support workers cope with the more negative times.  However, if youre dealing with a particularly tough situation, it may be useful to remind yourself of all the good you have done so far, and the good you are doing right now – even if the fruits of your labour are not immediate.  Knowing that you are making a positive difference to a family is a very good feeling indeed.

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