In some cases, professional caregivers may also encounter significant resistance from a patient who is having trouble adjusting to his or her changed circumstances. Occasionally, this resistance manifests itself in the form of anger or irritability displayed inappropriately toward the caregiver. This, too, can be stressful.
The Power of a Positive Attitude
Overcoming stress and maintaining a positive attitude is an essential skill for professional caregivers. Why? The article "A Positive Attitude in Health Care: Make It the Rule, Not the Exception" lists the following benefits of maintaining a positive attitude. A positive attitude can:
- Increase the probability of optimum and consistent performance, meaning that your patients will reap the rewards of your consistently high standard of care.
- Reduce accidents and unintended incidents, making your work environment safer for you and your patient.
- Help you earn a good reputation in your profession and career.
For those seniors who are in need of in-home care, your positive attitude can do much to improve their quality of life. In many cases, you may be one of the most significant people with whom they interact on a regular basis. Your positive attitude in the face of distressing circumstances can help your patients find the strength to be positive themselves.
Additionally, from a purely personal standpoint, maintaining a positive attitude helps you remain mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy as you perform your job duties to the best of your ability.
Ways to Beat Stress and Stay Positive
There are a variety of things you can do to lessen stress and stay positive as you care for seniors. Here are a few useful tips to help you cope:
1) Work hard to develop a good rapport with your patient and his or her family.
Though it may seem easier to avoid forming an attachment with patients who may be quite ill, the reality is that developing a respectful relationship that accords dignity to your patient results in lower stress levels for you and the patient.
A certain level of detachment may insulate you from falling prey to depression as a patient's health continues to decline. However, forming a friendly relationship with your patient enables you to more closely discern and address needs as they arise. Learn to listen closely to what your patient is saying, and observe closely the things that your patient may not be mentioning aloud. The more you know about your patient, the more empathy you can display. The more empathy you display, the more likely it becomes that your patient will respond favorably to your assistance.
2) Take time every day to do something for yourself.
This can be difficult, especially if you have a large patient load or a patient that requires constant care. However, to avoid caregiver burnout, it is important to schedule some time every day to do something that relaxes and delights you. Even something as simple as listening to your favorite song in the car or reading a favorite book for 10 minutes a day can help you maintain a more positive outlook.
3) Resist the urge to internalize negative responses.
As you care for seniors with multiple health issues, sometimes those seniors may, out of fear or frustration, lash out and say or do things which can be upsetting. If that happens, remember not to take such actions personally. In most cases, the patient harbors no ill will toward you as a person, and may only be reacting negatively to a situation that is beyond his or her control. Take a mental step back, breathe deeply for a few minutes, and let the moment pass.
4) Eat the right foods for stress reduction.
The saying that you are what you eat is more truth than fiction. The foods that you eat can make a huge difference in your mood and energy level. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, lean meats, and poultry are all great choices for keeping your energy high and your mood even.
5) Be realistic.
A MerckEngage article gives this sound advice: "Realize that it's perfectly natural to feel guilty or overwhelmed at times. But be sure to give yourself credit for all the good things you have done."
You likely chose to become a professional caregiver based on a sincere desire to help others. Acknowledging the many ways in which you help your patients each day while also understanding that there are some problems that are beyond your ability to solve will help you avoid stress and stay positive. You do make a difference. Celebrate life's victories with your patients and help them handle life's defeats when necessary.
Working with a Professional Agency
As you provide care, you may find that working with a professional in home care agency can lessen your stress levels and help you stay positive. Being a part of a caregiving team may enable you to take time for yourself when you need it without inconveniencing your patient. Additionally, being employed by an agency eliminates some of the stresses associated with self-employment including tax issues and patient invoicing and collections. If you would like to work with a professional agency, contact us today to discuss available options.