How to Set Boundaries and Protect Your Mental Health as a Home Health Aide
August 23 2021
What Boundaries to Set and Why You Should Have Them
Giving compassionate care is probably the reason you chose the career path of home health aide. There is nothing more rewarding than giving people the opportunity to heal comfortably at home. But while being a caregiver is very rewarding, it can also be emotionally and physically demanding. This demand can be draining, leading to burnout. Practicing self-care at home can help with burnout, but first we must learn to set boundaries to protect our mental health.
Why You Should Set Boundaries
If you don’t set clear, professional boundaries, it may lead to burnout, exhaustion, stress, hurt feelings, depression and can even jeopardize your ability to do your job well. When we are exhausted, we can take out our frustrations on those we love and those we care for. This misplaced anger is human nature. Unfortunately, it can only make hard situations more difficult and can lead to hurt feelings felt by those you care for and love. When we aren’t in the proper headspace, it also makes it harder to care for those in our charge. When we are burnt out, we can miss signals and signs and worse, do something that leads to an accident. And like a vicious circle, all of this can lead to more stress and anxiety.
In essence, setting professional boundaries at work can help stave off the effects of burnout, protecting our own mental health. It can also help us keep a clear mind, meaning that our patients are safer and well cared for.
Set Professional Boundaries with Patients
With each patient, set clear, professional boundaries. Show up prepared and on time. Be respectful and courteous. Then look for ways to engage with the patient. It is okay to be friendly with the patient, but remember that this relationship is not like a typical friendship. Friendship implies a give and take, while caregiving should always be patient focused. You are there to support and help the client, not the other way around. Remembering this is key in helping you set and keep those professional boundaries.
Don’t Take Work Home
Not only do you need to set professional boundaries with your patients, but you need to set boundaries between work and your personal life. This means not taking work home with you. We know that this is easier said than done. When you’ve had a particularly difficult day, it can be hard to not think about it at home. To help, set yourself a decompression routine. Start on your drive home. This is the time to give yourself space to think about your work troubles and then set them aside in your mind to make room for your personal life once you arrive home.
Once you are home, try not to think about work. Be sure to practice some self-care. This can help clear your mind and allow you the space to think about other things in your life. Take a hot bath, read a book, meditate, do yoga or have a game night with your friends or family. These small actions not only help us clear our minds, but keep us in the present moment. Being present can also help you become more self-aware.
Being self-aware comes with daily practice. Having a self-care routine can help you practice it daily. Self-awareness is important because it allows you to check in with your own needs and emotions. It also helps you know when you are not in the right headspace to help others or just don’t have it in you to give more. For example, it can help you know when it’s okay to tell someone no. If you’ve had a long week at work, don’t agree to help a friend on the weekend just because you don’t want them to think you don’t care.
It’s important that you touch base with yourself and know what you are capable of giving emotionally and physically at any given moment. If you need a mental health day, be sure to take one. In order to care well for our patients, we must first care for ourselves!
Talk to a Counselor
If you find that you are having issues dealing with the stress of work and life in general on your own, make sure that you reach out to a counselor or therapist to talk through your emotions. They can also help you with additional coping mechanisms for stress, so that you don’t experience burnout.
Work for a Company that Cares About You!
Finally, choose to work for a company that cares about you! A company that values you won’t expect you to work overtime constantly. They will also give you the time off that you deserve, allowing you to take a vacation. A company that values you as a person will allow you the space to take a mental health day, knowing that when you come back to work, you will be able to care better for your patients.
All American Care understands that our employees are our best asset! We value the hard work our employees put in each and every day. We offer competitive benefits as well as a higher salary, direct deposit, a convenient location, a friendly work environment and Spanish speaking personnel. Land your dream job and visit our careers page to learn more about our current open positions today!