As helping professionals and/or caregivers, one new goal that we might want to consider in 2018 is to boost our self-care.
When we’re working so hard on behalf of others, the mere thought of taking time for self-care may feel too challenging or the last thing we need to add to our full “to-do” list. However, as per Erlene Grise-Owens, Justin “Jay” Miller, and Mindy Eaves ibook “The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals,” incorporating self-care into our daily lives is key to our ability to continue to be there for our patients and loved ones.
The authors provide a useful metaphor of a parent having to put on her oxygen mask before placing one of her child’s if they are on a flight gone badly. If the parent was to first place the child’s mask on before hers, both are likely to die but if the parent has hers on first, she has the necessary oxygen to stay alive and then ensure her child gets his on properly.
Similarly, if we routinely practice self-compassion, we will have the required emotional and mental bandwidth to provide the best support and guidance to others.
Below is a poem summarizing some of the valuable “A-to-Z” self-care tips. The poetic format was chosen over the narrative format to enable me to practice what the authors are preaching. It was a way to add more joy into my work!
And now without further ado, a stanza for each letter of the alphabet from M onwards! Please make sure to check out 26 Self-Care Tips for the “A-to-L” tips!
Simple Ways to Embrace Self-Care
M is for mindfulness,
Observe your breath,
Try to be nonjudgmental in present moment,
This helps you enjoy your life more,
And increases your resilience.
N is for nature,
Spend time in nature,
It will be restorative,
And even boost creativity!
O is for organizational wellness,
What is your workplace culture?
Its mission, purpose and values…
Consider changing jobs if not a good fit,
Toxic situations impact health and well-being.
P is for professional development,
Take trainings, classes, certifications…
As antidote to burnout,
Increase success and satisfaction,
Also boost marketability,
Q is for quality,
Shift focus from what and how much,
To what and how meaningful,
Tailor self-care activities,
To your current life phase.
R is for relationships,
Cultivate your garden with roses,
People who care and genuinely listen,
Remove the weeds and gnomes,
Yielding negativity or just a façade of support.
S is for supervision,
Good supervision is key,
If not available at work,
Seek out peers/mentors,
This will help prevent burnout.
T is for time,
Engage in effective time management.
To experience less pressure,
Reframe time as a gift to be savored,
Versus a resource to be managed or saved.
Understanding U for UR worth it,
To better care for others,
We must take care of ourselves,
POP: prioritize, organize and partialize,
Make “you” a priority 15 to 30 minutes/day!
Zipping ahead to Z for Zzzz sleep,
Sleep is critical to how we feel and accomplish,
Break bad habits (ex. sleeping with the TV on),
Breathe and listen to meditation app,
Slowly but surely, you’ll be sleeping more!
Grise-Owens, E., Miller, J., & Eaves, M. (2016). The A-to-Z self-care handbook for social workers and other helping professionals. Harrisburg, PA: The New Social Worker Press.