Learn why self-care is crucial for support workers and how adopting a few tips during winter can keep the adult social care sector positive and resilient.
How can support workers expect to care for others when they struggle to care for themselves?
Winter is coming and with it brings short days, cold nights and prolonged darkness that can cause people to feel emotionally low, anxious, and depressed.
SAD (seasonal affective disorder), by name and nature, affects around 2 million people in the UK, according to the latest 2023 NHS statistics.
So, in an emotionally driven and draining job like care work, carers face a difficult challenge to keep spirits high while providing a warm and caring nature to their clients/patients.
In this blog, we discuss four winter self-care tips for care workers and how adopting some lifestyle changes can empower your personal and professional life with greater confidence and self-esteem.
Why is Self-Care Important for Social Workers?
Due to the caring and selfless demands involved across all types of social work and care, developing winter self-care practices during the more challenging months is crucial for care worker professionals to stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy and strong.
Developing self-care practices and routines can offer various positives for the individual and improve the quality of care they provide. These benefits include improved wellbeing and positivity alongside reduced stress levels, while in some healthcare scenarios, practising winter self-care can also increase clinical performance and compassion.
Beyond a personal level, self-care can also contribute to a greater workplace culture. For example, in 2021, the NASW (National Association of Social Workers) amended the Code of Ethics with the self-care language inclusion in the Purpose and Ethical Principles section.
“Professional self-care is paramount for competent and ethical social work practice. Professional demands, challenging workplace climates, and exposure to trauma warrant that social workers maintain personal and professional health, safety, and integrity. Social work organisations, agencies, and educational institutions are encouraged to promote organisational policies, practices, and materials to support social workers’ self-care.”
So, regardless of your role in adult social care, remembering to be good to yourself and stay protected is crucial in remaining as resilient, happy, and healthy as possible over the winter months.
4 Care Worker Self-Care Tips for Winter
Now we understand why self-care for care workers is essential, especially during the winter, here are a few tips to keep your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing in good stead:
1.Exercise and Fitness
Physical activity doesn’t have to be a lifestyle choice. It’s just science. In other words, you don’t need a fancy gym membership or the latest fitness tracking app. You just need some form of physical exercise that helps you process emotions, produce endorphins, and generally improve your mood.
Regular exercise is proven to increase our self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety. And the best thing about exercising is the variety available.
Fitness is achievable on our own or in a social environment where we can make new friends as an extra plus. Sometimes, the social aspect proves the best motivator by knowing our friends are involved or having other people counting on us.
2.Positive Social Interactions
As we discussed in the previous point, positive social interaction can be another form of self-care during winter, but not necessarily in the form of physical exercise.
It’s important to let your emotions free and embrace how you feel. Emotions can be heightened or lowered with whoever you spend time with. Look to spend time with people who make you laugh and feel like you belong.
On the other hand, try to avoid people who drain your energy. People who make you angry, upset or frustrated become detrimental to your emotional capacity to care. The last thing you need is an emotionally draining interaction in your own time before going out to work to care for others.
Not everyone sees themselves as creative types, but we all share the capacity for creative expression. Whether with music, art, or drama, we can process emotions through creative expression opportunities.
These creative expression endeavours could include joining a choir, attending a dance class or gardening at home. Whatever way you find being creative can help you relax and feel good, we encourage you to take the opportunity this winter.
The last point is a general one but one we can often overlook. Establishing protection for our emotional, physical and mental health is easy to come by but just as easy to ignore.
For example, receiving minimal sunlight during winter will affect our emotional and mental wellbeing through a vitamin D deficiency. As a result, the government advises everyone to consider taking a vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months.
Another example of protecting yourself includes eating a healthy diet of various fruits, vegetables, and other nutritional-rich foods. Getting enough sleep also makes a difference, alongside staying on top of your transport, such as keeping your car safe and running.
Find a Care Role That Supports Your Wellbeing
Care work has various benefits that can help people manage their mental health and wellbeing during winter, such as flexible working arrangements and fulfilment from helping others while being part of a supportive team.
At Herefordshire Cares, we have various vacancies offering diverse adult social care positions across the county. From Care Assistants to Support Workers and Deputy Management Positions, Herefordshire Cares can find you the role that makes a big difference in people’s lives and provides you with a fulfilling and enriching career.