Caring for the Carer
Addressing mental health concerns is a critical part of CaringWorks’ mission to end homelessness. Helping our clients achieve long-term stable housing includes a multidisciplinary approach that often includes behavioral health services.
Through a wide range of services delivered by our compassionate employees, our team lives up to the motto that “caring does work.” And as rewarding as it is to help and care for others, it’s a demanding and emotional line of work that can take a toll. We fight as hard as we can for those who can’t always fight for themselves, and we become a voice for the voiceless. But to do this effectively, we must also ensure that we are adequately caring for ourselves.
May is Mental Health Awareness month which serves as a reminder for everyone—including those who serve in roles focused on caring for others—about the importance of “mental wealth,” which is a term used to assess overall mental health AND wellbeing.
Here are five reminders to help you focus on your mental wealth:
- Take time for yourself, just as you do for others. To be at your best—and to best care for others—you must prioritize adequate time to care for yourself. That care can look like exercising or taking a walk, eating a healthy meal, or simply saying “no” when you are drained and don’t have the capacity to take on an additional task. By taking the time you need for self-care, you can be a better “carer” for others.
- Schedule short breaks in your day with no distractions. An average workday looks different than it used to. More people are working in a hybrid workplace model, and it’s easy to schedule meetings back-to-back with little breaks in between. Refrain from overbooking yourself and allow time to rest in between meetings. Don’t be afraid to communicate with a meeting organizer if a later or earlier start time works better for you and block out times on your calendar when you know you’ll need a break to recharge.
- Set limits on what you can do each day. Some tasks will simply need to wait, so look for ways to prioritize your tasks for the day and communicate when you need to move tasks to another day. You likely have a “task” feature in your email that allows you to quickly jot down requests/tasks for each day, and there are also apps that can help you keep track of tasks. Familiarize yourself with the tools that can help you set appropriate limits and priorities for yourself.
- Let others help YOU! Like many who serve in the role of a carer, I struggle with letting others help me. Being the “strong black woman” in my household has cost me sleep, rest, and convenience and I admit that I haven’t always accepted help when it was offered and when it was needed. But I’m learning to change because we all need and deserve love and support, which may come in the form of help from others. The next time a co-worker, friend, or family member offers to take a task off your plate, say YES.
- Last but certainly not least, know your impact. When serving in a role where you’re constantly caring and helping others, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in meeting the demands of the people who depend on you. Try not to let the work overwhelm you and instead recognize that what you do is greatly appreciated and that it’s making a profound and meaningful impact in the lives of others.
Sophia Franklin is a licensed clinical social worker with extensive experience developing and implementing programs for low-income and/or homeless adults. Sophia has over 10 years of experience in direct care and program management, and she holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Built on the single idea that all people—no matter their social or economic standing—should have a chance to improve their quality of life, CaringWorks has served 10,000 clients throughout our 20-year history. Since our inception, we have grown exponentially to become one of Georgia’s leaders in providing permanent supportive housing. We serve hundreds of individuals each year through unique programs and services that are specifically tailored to the needs of those facing chronic homelessness.
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