For sure, I have been in the Caring for Others camp for decades. If you care for others around you, in whatever capacity, professional or otherwise, please keep reading in order to care for yourself while caring for others
Are You One of These People?
I know some amazing people who in various roles, cook, lead, teach, nurture, counsel and minister to a sea of grateful individuals all around them. Such work and caring for others over the long haul, when carried out fully, brings both blessings and over time, some measure of consequences, to the care person. The blessings we manifest in our countenance and joy of the work, that come in little gifts and mementos received. Oftentimes these acknowledgements and gifts are showered upon us to the point of overflowing. Such blessings, however they come, in turn empower us to continue to give and do good work all over again.
The consequences of doing this work on the other hand are frequently less obvious. But over time, especially when the work has been demanding and deep in our caring of others, the negatives and wear and tear on the body and mind begin to pile on. Insomnia, insufficient hours of sleep, excessive worry, digestive issues and various body pains may begin to occur but we frequently assign their causes to other things and not the work that we’re doing. And how skilled we sometimes become at also denying their existence! In addition, people who care for others typically receive inadequate support themselves, either in the form of opportunities for renewal, self-care, genuine rest and realistic and productive supervision of the work that they’re doing.
Tips on caring for you while caring for others
Start with a self-assessment. Write down what’s going on, what’s not working or what’s not right with your work currently? Be sure to ask yourself the following:
- Am I getting enough sleep? From one to ten, (one worst, ten best) what’s my quality of sleep?
- Do I get to work on time?
- How’s my weight doing? Am I eating the right foods?
- What am I doing for recreation? Am I getting enough down-time, period?
- Where am I with alcohol use and other substances?
- When my (average) work day ends (one to ten again), how do I feel about the kind and quality of work that I performed? What would make it better?
If you know in your heart of hearts that you won’t or can’t do the above self assessment honestly, consider seeking out support in one of the following ways:
- Ask your current supervisor or employer for either supervision from or consultation with someone trained in your field who also has supervisory skills. (Not from the office manager or dispatcher, etc!) Sometimes additional support is actually available but you need to ask for it.
- If the organization that you work for (or do ministry within, etc) doesn’t seem to offer much in the form of support and guidance, or, if what they offer isn’t much or doesn’t hit the mark, then consider finding a few of your colleagues in your field and get a group going. It could meet monthly or bi-monthly over coffee or whatever. The point is that you and others in the group will all have an opportunity to share mutual experiences and support one another, etc. And usually these groups exist at no expense to the group.
- Seek online help: Yes, like Rise This Day, and others! Some of the better online sources of support are found within membership sites and are team-run by real, every day people with credentials and authority in a specific field. This is important. Look for forums that are active and covering relevant topics. Be careful of highly political and/or specific religious sites that tend to sprinkle their ideology or dogma throughout their material, etc. That said, there are some very good people out there who can and will offer their support from afar. You just need to exercise caution as you explore.