TIME Health: Caregiver Traits That Help Reduce Burnout

Whether they are employed as a social worker, health care provider, or in-home caregiver, those responsible for the welfare, safety, and comfort of a family’s loved ones are placed in a very significant position. The importance of the work combined with the many challenges the job can present on a daily basis can prove to be too much for some, however, and when this happens, it can be easy for even the most dependable and hardworking employee to suffer from burnout. It can sometimes feel like too much of a personal toll to continually give to others, even though we have a passion for doing so. This is when we as caregivers need to directly address the root of the issue to protect not only ourselves but also our patients and the peace of mind of their loved ones. Here are the top required traits needed for reducing burnout in such fields of employment, as were outlined by this recent TIME article.

Empathy

It is essential to have a strong sense of empathy when working as a caregiver of any kind, as it conveys an optimistic and compassionate mindset that can make or break the success of a career in helping others. Empathy includes attending to the struggles of others, yes, but it actually benefits ourselves by teaching our minds to develop a higher tolerance of stress resistance, which in turn can make you even better at taking care of others while reducing the likelihood of burnout.

Social Connectivity and Self-Compassion

When responsible for caring for others, it is also important to take the time to take care of yourself. Regardless of whether you become overwhelmed by emotions or are stressed from an outside factor, it is crucial that you find someone in your social circle to discuss issues with you and address the problems at hand. Having someone to talk your problems out with will ensure that you receive adequate support to protect against feeling overwhelmed or that you have no one to turn to. It’s also a good idea to consider how you take care of yourself and question whether you are doing all you can.

An Established Life Outside of Work

Caregivers are human beings too, which means they need to be in a good mental, emotional and physical state in order to deliver the best quality of service possible. Proper exercise, downtime and investing in personal endeavours such as hobbies and interests outside of work can encourage a balance of work and home life. This makes it easier to stay positive, content and emotionally stable yourself. Spending time with friends, going to the movies and generally having your own life outside of your scheduled duties as a caregiver will prevent diminished performance and burnout more efficiently.

Generosity

Those who make the best caregivers are the ones capable of being generous, giving individuals with compassion for those they look after – as well as their families who count on the care received. As it turns out, there are many benefits associated with giving without reaching the point where you give too much and experience burnout. Increased self-esteem and self-confidence, greater peace of mind and contentment, and overall happier day-to-day living can be a direct result of being generous to a certain degree. Volunteer work is an excellent example of this in action, inspiring people to give back to local communities and brighten the lives of others they interact with.

Positive Atmosphere

Caregivers need to look after individuals who often have a difficult time making the most of every day, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to create a positive working environment. Take the time to develop a connection with those you care for, make friends, establish shared interests and build on them to brighten patients’ days. You’ll find that their joy and excitement will be reflected onto you as you work closely with them, making for less of an emotional and mental drain. In addition, patients who look forward to your visit and enjoy your company will make you feel that you’re making a difference in their lives, and in more ways than one.

Combined with traditional self-care activities such as exercise, sleeping in, or relaxing with a good book, practicing these traits will further enhance a caregiver’s ability to take care of themselves at the same time, thus better safeguarding against burnout when they are needed most by their patients. For further details on these traits as well as various studies supporting their benefits, read this article in TIME.

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