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Managing Your Anxiety As A Disability Support Worker or Aged Care Worker

What is anxiety?

Anxiety goes beyond the occasional experience of stress or worry. If feelings of anxiety persist, occur without apparent cause, or significantly interfere with everyday functioning, it could indicate a clinical condition.

How common is anxiety?

Anxiety conditions affect 1 in 4 in Australia (ABS (2022) National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, 2020-21.)

What are some tips if you wake up filled with anxiety and you have a day ahead of supporting clients?

Waking up filled with anxiety can make the day ahead feel challenging, especially when you have clients to support.

1. Start with deep breathing: Practice deep breathing exercises to help calm your nervous system and reduce anxiety. Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this several times to help relax your body and mind.

2. Ground yourself in the present moment: Engage in grounding techniques to bring your focus to the present moment. Pay attention to your senses by noticing the sights, sounds, smells, and physical sensations around you. This can help redirect your thoughts away from anxiety and create a sense of stability.

3. Prioritise self-care: Take care of yourself before attending to your clients. Allow time for activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as a healthy breakfast, gentle exercise, or engaging in a calming hobby. Meeting your own needs can help you approach your work with a clearer and calmer mind.

4. Break tasks into smaller steps: If you're feeling overwhelmed by the day ahead, break down your tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Focus on one task at a time rather than getting caught up in the big picture. This approach can help reduce anxiety and increase your sense of control and accomplishment.

5. Seek support or talk to a colleague: Reach out to a trusted colleague or supervisor for support and guidance. Sharing your feelings and concerns with someone who understands the nature of your work can provide valuable perspective, reassurance, and practical advice.

6. Use grounding techniques throughout the day: Incorporate grounding techniques into your workday to manage anxiety in real-time. Take short breaks to practice deep breathing, stretch your body, or briefly step outside for fresh air. These moments of self-care can help alleviate anxiety and recharge your energy.

7. Maintain healthy boundaries: While supporting clients is important, remember to set boundaries to protect your own well-being. Prioritise self-care, take breaks when needed, and avoid overextending yourself. Learning to say "no" when necessary and delegating tasks can help prevent burnout and reduce anxiety.

8. Practice self-compassion: Be kind and compassionate toward yourself. Recognize that anxiety is a common experience and that it doesn't define your abilities or worth. Treat yourself with understanding, patience, and self-care, knowing that you're doing your best in challenging circumstances.

9. Consider professional support: If anxiety persists and significantly interferes with your ability to support clients or affects your overall well-being, consider seeking professional help from a therapist. They can provide tailored strategies and support to help you manage anxiety more effectively.

How to communicate if you are feeling anxious

1. Choose the right time and place: Find a comfortable and quiet environment where you can have a conversation without distractions. Select a time when both you and the person you're talking to are available and not rushed.

2. Be self-aware: Take a moment to understand and acknowledge your anxiety. Recognize that your anxious thoughts and feelings are valid, but also remind yourself that they may not reflect the reality of the situation. This self-awareness can help you approach the conversation with a clearer mindset.

3. Use "I" statements: When expressing your feelings, use "I" statements to convey how you personally experience anxiety. For example, say, "I feel anxious when..." or "I'm struggling with anxiety about...". This helps avoid blaming or accusing others and keeps the focus on your own emotions.

4. Be specific about your feelings: Try to articulate the specific emotions you're experiencing. Instead of simply saying you're "anxious," describe the sensations or thoughts that accompany your anxiety. For instance, you might say, "I'm feeling overwhelmed and my heart is racing because..."

5. Explain the impact on your behaviour: Share how anxiety affects your behaviour or actions. This can help others understand why you may be behaving differently or why certain situations may be challenging for you. For instance, you could say, "I may seem withdrawn or hesitant because anxiety makes it difficult for me to socialise."

6. Express your needs: Clearly communicate your needs to the person you're talking to. Let them know how they can support you or what they can do to help alleviate your anxiety. This might include asking for patience, understanding, or specific accommodations.

7. Practice active listening: Engage in active listening by giving the other person your full attention and acknowledging their responses. Show that you appreciate their support or willingness to listen. This creates a supportive and empathetic atmosphere for the conversation.

8. Consider writing it down: If verbalising your feelings feels too challenging, consider writing a letter or note to express yourself. This allows you to gather your thoughts, express your emotions more clearly, and ensure that your message is conveyed accurately.

To find disability support services, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/services/disability-support-workers

To find aged care services, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/services/aged-care-workers

To become a care or support worker, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/carer

To make a referral, please visit https://www.careseekers.com.au/referrals