Tuesday 6 August 2019

The Importance & Complexity of Compassionate Caregiving

It is my pleasure to host this guest post from author Christian Worstell on the subject of compassionate caregiving. Can compassion in caring be taught and learned? Or, is it a talent that is either in us, or not? Read on.

Photo Credit: Pexels

What do you think of when you hear the word care? Do you instantly think of compassion, or do you think of physically taking care of someone?  For me personally, care and compassion go hand in hand. But unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Caregiving can be extremely challenging and frustrating at times. The journey of caring is not an easy one and it’s completely normal to feel burned out. As tempting as it may be to feel guilty or embarrassed, it is important to understand that you’re making a huge difference in someone’s life. Your feelings are real and valid, and odds are you don’t give yourself enough credit for your hard work.

So when you’re questioning your purpose or feeling worn down as a caregiver, I challenge you to think back to why you do it. It isn’t always a choice, but here you are doing what so many are scared of.

The thing is, you can’t provide adequate care without compassion. Compassion is essential to caregiving; it involves showing understanding and appreciation for others feelings and emotions. Without compassion, caregiving can be counterproductive.

Research shows that compassionate interaction with doctors can affect healing. In fact, having a connection can actually stimulate self-healing techniques.

It’s no secret that a little compassion can go a long way, but it’s important to note that expressing compassion can have a positive effect on caregivers, too. When you add compassion to caregiving, a true bond can be formed. And this can make being a caregiver a lot easier.

So instead of turning to a self-deprecating mindset, be proactive and utilize skills that you can learn to improve yourself as a caregiver. I know this is easier said than done, but there are some simple steps you can take each day to implement compassion into your caregiving routine.

Use good listening skills

Sometimes we get caught up and we don’t properly listen. We only half listen or don’t listen at all. Developing good listening skills can help you build compassion in your role.

Practice mindfulness

Learning to have more compassion really involves making the shift to assume the best in others. And that’s an amazing skill to have. Make mindfulness a priority, and always give the benefit of the doubt. This skill may benefit you in other aspects of your life, too.

Avoid biases

It’s normal for us to make assumptions, but try your hardest to fight them. Biases can really interfere with your ability to express compassion.

Make eye contact

We’re so busy that sometimes we forget how meaningful simple eye contact can be. Make it a priority to make eye contact from time to time. It can really help to form a connection with your patient.

Pay attention to your body language

Sometimes our body language doesn’t match our words. Be conscious of this, and practice compassionate body language.

Familiarize yourself with caregiver burnout

Learn the symptoms of caregiver burnout and seek help if you feel you are experiencing it. Please make your mental and physical health a priority so that you can be at the top of your caregiving game.

Consider compassion training

Compassion training for health professionals is a real thing. Do some research on it and see if it’s a good fit for you.

As a caregiver, there are so many things you have to keep up with — medications, your loved one’s health insurance, doctors’ appointments and more. Showing compassion is not at the top of the list, but try to make it.

Remember that the best caregivers are the one who do just that — care. Keep this in mind on your caregiving journey and continue making a difference. You are appreciated more than you know.

Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and wellness writer living in Raleigh, North Carolina.


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