Mental Coping Tips to Use on Days When You Find it Difficult to Care

By Pamela D Wilson CSA, CG, MS, BS/BA

Professional caregivers experience daily challenges whether the challenge be a resistant patient or resident, interacting with a difficult co-worker or a problem that seems out of your control and without a solution. When stress is ongoing, compassion fatigue may result. The dictionary describes compassion fatigue as exhaustion, emotional distress or apathy resulting from the constant demands of caring for others. What professional caregiver, on any given day, hasn’t felt a little like this? Some days, caregiving can seem like an uphill battle.

In the realm of professional caregiving, apathy can be dangerous. You work in a nursing home and walk by a resident in a room crying out for help because if you do help you realize you might lose your patience. You notice a red area on a client’s tailbone area while changing clothing and fail to document the concern that later turns into a raging bedsore. Residents and patients are at risk when professional caregivers become apathetic.

What actions might you take in this type of situation to ensure that on days when you feel less than caring your actions do not place a resident or patient at risk of harm? How might the idea of creative coping help refresh a tired or apathetic mind?

Read on and you will see how using creative coping tips will allow you to feel great on days when other people or situations might try to drag you down.

Our thoughts are flexible and ever changing. How many times have you experienced a good or bad day quickly turn the opposite as the result of words someone said to you or the actions of another person that you perceived to be negative? Understanding how this quick turn of the switch affects our brains is one idea to utilizing creative coping skills in difficult or challenging situations.

If you watch the movie clip in the article, Alzheimer’s Disease and the Power of Music, you are quickly able to see how a catalyst – music on an I-pod – significantly brightened a person’s life. Insight into aspects of our own lives that make us happy is helpful into quickly turning the switch of our brain from apathy and negativity to positivity.

Pour thoughts into your brain of happy events. Are you able to remember how you felt when being offered your first job, buying a puppy, graduating from college, meeting your husband, wife or partner or another event that made you ecstatically blissful. How do these thoughts this make you feel?

Knowing that you have the ability to feel positive and happy, why would you allow an outside event or person to change your positive feelings to negative? As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Are you willing to give the power of your mind over to events or people that inspire negativity and that make you feel less than positive?

While, challenging situations to occur that result in compassion fatigue, as with anything it is how we mentally and physically respond to these challenges through mental and physical activity.

How many of you remember the television program Ally McBeal, the multi-sex bathroom and the attorneys dancing to a singing Barry White? For a trip down memory lane to watch a clip from Ally McBeal, Click Here:

We all possess the mental ability to quickly remove ourselves from a situation that may be frustrating. It’s likely you’ve done this before without realizing. How many times have you sat in a meeting and imagined yourself somewhere else or doing something else to the point that when you were asked a question you had no idea of the context because your mind was somewhere else?

If you practice, it is possible to train your brain to do the same in the middle of situations of negativity or apathy. Take a 5 minute break and go outside to bask in the sunshine, carry an I-Pod and listen to a favorite song even if you have to do this while hiding in a bathroom stall (think Ally McBeal), think of a memory that made you feel good and bring all of these good feelings into your brain.

Rather than allowing the dial in your brain to remain at -10, turn the switch to +10 and reverse the effect of outside situations. Only you can make the choice about how you respond on days when coping seems difficult and when caring is a challenge.

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©2014 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

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