Becoming a caregiver can be a rewarding and fascinating career, but it can be extremely demanding at times. Some patients don’t require a lot of active assistance, but others may struggle with even the most basic tasks. There will be days where you’ll have to navigate multiple physical and emotional challenges. The best thing any caregiver can do for themselves is to make a thorough self-care plan to help take care of their needs when they aren’t on the clock. If you’re a caregiver or thinking of becoming one, read on for three reasons that caregivers would benefit from therapy.
1. Caregiving requires emotional and physical labor.
While many jobs require hard work, caregiving is unique in that the work is hard on both a mental and physical level. You’re responsible for another person’s health and safety, and long-term caregivers often develop relationships with the patients they work with. Establishing a rapport can improve your experience on the job, but it does make it harder to watch the people you care for struggle with their health. This often leaves caregiving professionals in the position of being exhausted emotionally and physically.
For example, if you care for patients with late-stage Alzheimer’s, you’re likely to be managing a range of physical and mental health symptoms that cause these patients to require assistance with most essential daily tasks. These symptoms can include memory loss, mild cognitive impairment, behavioral changes, and many more. This can take a toll on your body and your mind, due to the nature of the job. Caring, empathetic people make excellent caregivers, but therapy can help you learn how to avoid bringing your emotions home with you.
2. Therapy helps ensure that you’re taking care of yourself.
When your job forces you to put the needs of others first, it can be tricky to leave that mentality at work. However, you won’t be an effective and engaged caregiver if you’re neglecting your own needs. Taking on too many hours or being unable to relax and get proper rest at home can have significant negative effects on your overall health and wellness. Sleep deprivation has been shown to cause everything from weakened immunity to memory problems to an increased risk of high blood pressure to mood changes.
There are many kinds of personalized therapy, so you can take the time to find a program that seems like it will work for you. Some programs even incorporate multiple types of therapy, like individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. There can be benefits to therapeutic treatment at any age, so don’t assume because you don’t have a diagnosed mental health condition or you’re too young that there aren’t valid reasons to seek professional help with your mental health.
3. It can be hard to avoid burnout.
Health care workers, including caregivers, can be particularly vulnerable to burnout. Burnout typically occurs when you neglect caring for basic needs for an ongoing period of time and your body just can’t handle the stress anymore. A healthy lifestyle is essential, even though it can seem like a lot of work to manage a balanced wellness routine. There’s no one routine that works for everyone, so it may take some trial and error, but it’s worth the effort.
Therapy can provide caregivers with material benefits and coping tools that can help them manage their day-to-day work more effectively. Being a caregiver can be a great fit for anyone who wants to help other people and work in a one-on-one environment with patients. Still, the emotional and physical demands that caregiving places on workers can be significant, particularly if you work with patients who require constant assistance, like those with some form of dementia. If you decide to pursue a career as a caregiver, it’s always best to make sure you take care of yourself, too.