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A hospice social worker career comes with its own special brand of stress. Think about it: you're working with families facing the loss of their loved one; perhaps in a few short days, or maybe in several long, difficult months. Family members may see old family conflicts resurface; they may also become overwhelmed at the mountain of logistics they need to handle. In many cases, the hospice patients may be experiencing their own emotional roller-coasters.

Patients and families rely on your guidance to help them navigate this difficult road. Your professional skills and ethics will provide a framework for your interactions, but you'll probably still feel a bit stressed out. You may wonder if you're providing adequate support for your patients and families, or you may feel bogged down by your paperwork and logistics loads.

Fortunately, you've got some good ways of getting your stress level down. First, you've got to take care of yourself. Schedule in some time for a massage, a yoga class, or a spa day. Sit in a quiet room at home with some calming music, and meditate until you find balance. On the other hand, perhaps you prefer a fast-paced aerobics workout, a martial arts class, or a take-no-prisoners racquetball game. They're all good.

Finally, allow your fellow hospice team members to support you as well. Schedule regular, off-site decompression sessions, perhaps at a beautiful park or a quiet restaurant alcove. You may find that managing your stress level, and helping others handle their own stress-related challenges, leaves everyone better able to help hospice patients and their families.