From the Underlying Causes to Managing Pain on the Job: Experiencing Chronic Pain as a Nanny

Blog From the Underlying Causes to Managing Pain on the Job Experiencing Chronic Pain as a Nanny (1)by Jackie Edwards

Large proportions of American workers said they felt stressed on the job (79%) plagued by physical fatigue (44%), cognitive weariness (36%), emotional exhaustion (32%), and a lack of interest, motivation, or energy (26%), according to a 2022 American Psychological Association Work and Well-Being survey. For nannies faced with the challenges that chronic pain can bring, day-to-day life on the job can easily become a painful nightmare — though it doesn’t have to be. From understanding the dynamics of chronic pain to the occupational complications involved, navigating the pain on a daily basis can be achieved in simple ways, effectively allowing you to enjoy your time on the job. 

The dynamics of chronic pain

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for over three months — the pain can come and go, be present constantly, and can occur anywhere within the body. Chronic pain interferes with daily life, and can even lead to depression and anxiety, according to the Cleveland Clinic, which goes on to note that the first step in treatment is to find and treat the cause. With that in mind, it’s imperative to note that there can be many causes of chronic pain — from conditions like arthritis to injuries. The presence of chronic pain can also come from an unclear cause, in which the pain is referred to as response psychogenic pain, or psychosomatic pain. Regarding the symptoms of chronic pain, Stanford Medicine Health Care notes that they typically involve “mild to very bad pain that does not go away as expected after an illness or injury.” The pain may be described as shooting, burning, aching, or electrical, while chronic pain may also involve feeling sore, tight, or stiff in the affected area.

Exploring the occupational hazards

For nannies with chronic pain, the nature of the job itself can present a variety of physical challenges. Lifting, carrying, bending, standing, and sitting are generally involved with the job regardless as to the age of the children. For example, lifting children up into their carseats, bending over to pick up toys on the floor, or constantly sitting with a baby can be physically demanding. Constantly standing all day can also result in pain in the lower back and legs, while tasks like cleaning baby bottles, buttoning up clothing, or even helping the kids with arts and crafts can exacerbate chronic pain issues like arthritis in the hands. 

Working as a nanny can make for a rewarding and fulfilling career, with advantages that include an active lifestyle and dynamic work environment. However, it’s imperative to keep in mind that working with children often makes for an unpredictable job both mentally and physically — for example, you may be taking the kids to the zoo one day and picking up after them at home all day the next. School and recreational activities and events can have you on the road all day, while staying at home can result in the exhausting demands that accompany housework. As a result, being emotionally and physically drained at the end of a long day can become a reality — and with chronic pain, the nature of the job can often leave you feeling even worse. 

It’s imperative to note that work-related chronic pain can become a major problem in the long run, effectively making regular activities and daily life more painful and challenging to navigate. In a typical office work environment, for example, poor posture when sitting at a desk, repetitive strain injuries from using a computer, and not moving around enough throughout the day can all result in work-related chronic pain issues. While changing positions, moving around, and ensuring to do so regularly can alleviate tension and minor pain, issues that have gone on for long periods of time can result in chronic pain that needs professional treatment.

Coping with chronic pain on the job

Managing chronic pain as a nanny can sound impossible, especially when you’re constantly on the move. While there isn’t a cure for chronic pain, getting the underlying cause treated is imperative. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the most effective treatment involves symptom relief and support, noting that a multidisciplinary approach to pain management “is often required to provide the needed interventions to help manage the pain.” Depending on the situation, management programs may include the use of medical management of chronic pain, including medicine, as well as methods such as heat and cold treatments (to reduce stiffness and pain), physical and occupational therapy (such as massage), and exercise — to highlight just a few.

On a daily basis, managing the pain itself can be done in several ways, many of which can be integrated into your lifestyle as a nanny. If the pain is located in your hands or knees, for example, wearing support braces or compression garments throughout the day may help. Implementing a coping strategy or two, such as moderation (refraining from taking on too much), engaging in mindfulness via practices like mediation, and even practicing breathing exercises can also work to make work more manageable. Healthline points out that physical pain is related to emotional pain, meaning that chronic pain can increase stress levels. Taking care of your body, continuing to take part in daily activities, and seeking support can all work to minimize stress. This includes eating well, getting proper sleep, and exercising, as well as reaching out to a close friend or loved one for emotional support. 

Dealing with chronic pain can be frustrating, painful, and stress-inducing. For nannies, the nature of the job environment can contribute to the pain. While consulting with a medical professional will allow you to address any underlying cause, coping strategies such as mindful meditation in addition to self-care in the form of proper rest and nutrition can help manage the pain.

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