Not so long ago, I was the only person talking about the importance of self-care. At least it seemed that way to me when I was doing research for the book I was writing. The term self-care has even begun to feel stale now that it’s used to refer to a girl’s night out, mani/pedi’s or booking a spa day.
Those are terrific ideas. If you haven’t done some pampering in a while, I highly suggest it. But that’s not really a long-term self-care strategy.
It is no longer a luxury. I worry that people don’t understand how to embrace it between visits to the spa. Self-care is a necessity. If you are in the caring profession, it’s no longer a suggestion, but a requirement that you put your own health front and center.
Health care professionals are at a higher risk of burn-out and compassion fatigue. Not only can it rob you of the joy and fulfillment of your work, it can damage your heath and your relationships. Prevention is key. And it’s easier than you think.
Even the busiest (especially those who are chronically over booked) must take time to recharge. I’m reminded almost daily of the philosophy of trying to serve from an empty cup. You might be able to manage short-term, but eventually your mental and/or physical health will pay the price.
Here are 3 easy ways to start changing the dynamic of all work, no self-care.
- Breathe. Incorporate breathing exercises into your day. Set a timer on your phone every 3 hours. Take 3 minutes to stop and breath as deeply as you can. Inhale slowly through your nose (if possible) and exhale slowly through your mouth. Not only will you feel calm and energized, medical science tells us that your blood pressure will lower, your body will release toxins and you’ll experience better blood flow. This is so easy to do you can’t afford not to try it.
- Meditate. Like breathing, this is a great stress-reliever. Just 10 minutes a day will provide a boost in compassion and emotional stability. Use guided meditations or focus on the sensation of breath. Clear your mind and if thoughts pop up, recognize them and say “letting go” and refocus on your breath again. Best part of meditating? Just a few minutes a day has long-lasting effects.
- Spend time outside. Depending on where you live, this can be a bit more challenging but it’s worth it. There’s a reason that we’re hard wired to get vitamins from sunlight and suffer when we don’t. There are even some who feel that standing in the grass in your bare feet can help ground you to the energy in nature. Giving yourself permission to sit outside during lunch, or after work before you head home can be a simple way to release the emotions of the day.
Easy to do steps will help you maintain your own emotional balance. Don’t put off self-care for someday. It’s here!