Someone who works for a home health agency is never, thankfully, going to appear high on those lists of “most stressful jobs.”
Certainly, there are some professions in the health care/medical field that have especially high mental and physical risk factors attached to them, such as surgeons or combat medics who not only have the pressure of doing their job perfectly but possibly losing a patient if the wrong thing goes wrong. Even nurses who work in busy emergency rooms or are part of an air ambulance crews may have higher risks to their life and limb than nurses who visit home health care clients throughout the day.
Then again, no one is saying that home health care jobs aren’t stressful! For someone new to the profession who might be seeing if they like the work and is considering if they want to advance further as a professional caregiver, there are certainly moments that aren’t going to be as much fun as others or occasions where you worry about doing the right thing or performing a procedure well.
Having these concerns is natural and OK, says the team at Accredited Home Care. That’s the nature of health care – it’s not all going to be wonderful, but hopefully, it’s not going to be all unpleasant either.
In the home health care world, some days, the visits with clients will be enjoyable and they’ll be appreciative of your abilities. Other days, the clients may be feeling unhappy or in a lot of pain. They might be worried about their present or their future.
There may be days when their health may take a turn for the worse or their dementia may have progressed. There may be days when even basic procedures can be challenging.
Longtime health care pros will tell you that some of the stress becomes a little smaller with experience and practice, just like blood draws, injections or other procedures. That’s part of the reason that many nursing programs include portions that focus on these skills and also require a certain number of hours along with demonstrating certain abilities to advance to higher certifications.
Dealing with stress
While many modern nursing programs may offer insight into ways to deal with the stresses of bad days, challenging patients, difficult circumstances, or tricky procedures, some people in these professions have to figure out what works best for them.
There is certainly a bit of professional detachment that only comes with practice. And people who have nurses or related professions for years have certainly developed thick skins, and can deal with just about anyone or anything said to them.
But the skin may be a little more thin for people newer to the profession and they may find it trickier to let things go, such as unhappy statements from patients in pain.
So with all these potential stress-causing factors, what can be done to lower their risks to help you have a generally better attitude about your profession and life in general? Plenty, actually!
Some items that others have had success with include:
- Health officials recommend at least 20 minutes a day be spent on vigorous activity that gets the blood pumping through your body. Some people use exercise as a way to keep fit while helping them get through their daily activities. Others may want to focus on certain abilities, like gaining strength to help patients more in situations where you have to support them. Or exercise may help a lot of the anger, tension, fear, and anxieties be reduced.
- Talking about it. A spouse or significant other can be an excellent source for listening to your experiences and observations They won’t necessarily be objective but they can often be trusted. Or, some people prefer talking to a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist, especially someone who works with dementia. He or she will be able to listen without judging your thoughts and situations. Being able to share a lot of these details of your experiences and observations with a good listener is significantly better for mental health than keeping it in.
- Write it down. Whether you call it ‘journaling’ or something less formal, sometimes pen and paper (or fingers on keyboard) can be a great tool to quickly type or write what happened. It also may be fun to look at in the future, especially if you’ve experienced much more of the good and bad. Perhaps you’ll even get used to whatever is challenging you today and run into other challenges in the future. Plus it could be fun for you, or other family members, to read your notes about crazy experiences in the future. It may be even the basis for a book, movie, or podcast.
- Look for mental/physical activities. Beyond the benefits of exercise, like walking or swimming, some activities stimulate the mind as well as the body. Think about yoga or tai chi, which are two different ways of stretching and moving and also engaging the brain. Some simple movements can also be done throughout the day.
Overall, there are a variety of ways to handle stress and help your mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness also offers other resources, including info about Mental Health Month, which takes place in May.