Recruiting, Selecting, and Retaining Direct Service Workers to Provide Self-Directed HCBS

Ideas for Reducing Stress and Burnout

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Having resources for DSWs to manage their stress can show you care about their well-being. However, it is up to your DSWs to decide if they want to use the resources or if they even want to talk to you about what is causing them stress (especially if it is not work-related). It's important to offer support but to also maintain professional boundaries. Review the different ways your DSW might be able to reduce their stress. You may also want to try some of these practices to reduce stress in your own life.

Mindfulness can be a useful technique to help a person relax. Mindfulness means focusing on the present and not worrying about the past or the future.  A simple form of mindfulness is the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique. When the person is stressed, they should name five things they see around them, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste. Mindfulness can also be taking a walk in silence or engaging in a hobby like playing an instrument.

Some people prefer prayer to mindfulness.  This is another positive way that people can manage stress.

Sometimes all the DSW needs is some time off or to work fewer hours. Explore this with the DSW to see if this is an option for them. If you are worried about having someone to support you when the DSW takes time off, it may be time to hire an additional DSW or explore respite care options.

A DSW may need someone outside their job to talk to. This may be as simple as asking them if they have a friend or family member they can talk to. They may also be willing to go to therapy or support groups. If the DSW does not have health insurance, there may be low cost or no cost therapy in their area.

Research shows that exercising—especially outside—can help reduce stress and burnout. Something as simple as going for a walk or walking up and down stairs can help reduce stress. If it is sunny outside, the vitamin D from the sun can also help reduce stress.

You can always share useful resources with DSWs, even if they do not tell you that they are experiencing stress. The resources section lists some resources you can share with DSWs during orientation and onboarding and again as needed.