Self Care

  • It's ok to think about self-care. Listen to David Currow explain how taking care of yourself will help your patients.
     
  • Think about your current self-care practices. What soothes you? Invigorates you? What tops up your personal resources? Do you know what works best for you?   Ask a colleague what they find most positive and useful, and give it a try.
     
  • When providing end-of-life care, identify your own emotions. Debrief with a colleague or keep a diary if required. A self-care plan may be helpful.
     
  • Do you have any negative coping strategies? Negative coping strategies include over-eating, taking prescription or recreational drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption. Positive coping strategies include exercising, debriefing with a colleague, eating well and looking after yourself. Reflect on whether your coping strategies are working for you.
     
  • Consider using your hospital’s Employment Assistance Scheme or speak to your GP if you need additional support.
     
  • Develop some rituals to help you transition from your work to being at home. A ritual is a pattern of behaviour which becomes a habit with repetition over time. Psychologists refer to this as ‘boundary work’. 
    • Think about how you leave work: e.g. Start a wind down process before you leave work such as by writing down things you must do the next day. This helps you leave your concerns about the next day at work rather than taking them home with you. If you want to end the work day on a positive note, write down or reflect on one thing that went well today.
    • Think about how you get from work to home: e.g. if you commute by car, can you take the scenic route (even if it takes a little longer) or stop somewhere along the way to do something for yourself? (e.g. 10 minute walk in a park, or pick up something different for dinner). Whether you travel by car or public transport, you can listen to music, a podcast or a talking book.
    • Think about when you arrive home: e.g. make yourself a cup of tea, wash your hands or shower/bath, change your clothes (you might like to consider having designated ‘house clothes’ to signal you are in recreation mode). If you live with other people, spend some time talking to them about their day, or negotiate to spend a few minutes alone (or walk the dog) before you transition back into family life. This can be important, as the first 30 minutes at home is a common trigger point for arguments.
       
  • Take a break – keep wanting to meditate but don’t think you have the time? Go to YouTube and type in 1 minute meditation…or 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes. There are online meditations (or relaxing music) to correspond to however much time you have. Bring your headphones and plug in for a few minutes.
     
  • Self-care: Do you sometimes drink alcohol when you have had a stressful day at work or to unwind after work? Go through the AUDIT questionnaire to give an indication of whether your drinking is at a harmful level. If your drinking is at a harmful level, can you reduce your level of consumption yourself or do you need support? Discuss your concerns with a close friend or family member, or contact your GP to put you in contact with appropriate support services.
     
  • How would you rate your professional quality of life?  This link takes you to an online questionnaire to assessment your professional quality of life (ProQOL). The assessment indicates your compassion satisfaction, burnout and stress. If your scores indicate you are struggling, then seek help. You have various options: telephone help lines such as Beyond Blue (1300 22 46 36), your employee assistance provider, a trusted colleague or someone outside of work such as a partner, family member or close friend.
     
  • Positive self-care can take several forms - physical, emotional/cognitive, relational and spiritual. Even making yourself a cup of tea can be a very simple act of self-care. Commit to one act of self-care today. Here are some suggestions:
    • take a walk
    • get enough sleep
    • make healthy food choices
    • talk to a friend in person or on the phone
    • connect with a religious or spiritual community (if that is part of your value system)
    • meditate, or sit quietly and take some deep breaths
    • hug someone you love
    • listen to some music
    • write in a journal (keeping a gratitude journal has been linked to greater happiness, better physical health, stronger relationships and lower stress levels according to a Harvard University study:
    • disconnect from technology for a while
    • take a bath
    • light candles or burn scented oils
    • have some time alone
       
  • Want to meditate but find it hard to sit still? Try a walking meditation. These are walking meditations available on YouTube or try this walking meditation: (9 minutes 25 seconds)
     
  • Self-care – team sports can be a good way of getting some physical exercise as well as connecting socially. Did you have a sport you enjoyed when you were younger or is there something you have always wanted to try? Contact your local community centre to see if there are local teams in your areas. Don’t fancy a team sport? How about ball room dancing, Zumba, tai chi, or self-defence classes? You can often try a session or two before committing, so give it a go. Don’t want something you have to commit to every week?  Try getting a few friends together for beach cricket or a hike.

     
Last updated 06 April 2017