Why is Self Care Vital?
Why is Self Care Vital?
Who’s kidding who?
No profession or vocation is easy.
Life is not designed to be easy.
Especially not if you intend to learn, improve yourself and grow while helping others at the same time.
Any vocation or profession that involves working with people on a daily basis is not easy.
That would include every job from the unacknowledged street sweeper to the corporate CEO.
If you’re working with humans daily, you have your hands full.
We’re a tricky bunch.
Health Care Industries
In the healthcare-related industries, we often interact and work with people at their worst.
Generally, people don’t need medication and care when they function at their optimum or in their best moods.
Health care workers are usually in the direct line of fire when things get too much to bear, and people explode from mental and emotional strain, or they have an emotional meltdown.
Support staff in the case of nurses, laboratory and pharmacy staff very often bear the brunt.
On many occasion, I have had a patient unpack every nano-gram of fury and blame onto me.
I’ve had people demanding medication with no legal prescription and then unleashing violent communication on the very person trying to protect them from themselves.
So while in these cases, I was disappointed by the interactions, I also recognize the pain and instability behind the behaviour.
It’s really, REALLY not easy.
But then there are days and interactions when people share their truest emotions.
They let you in and allow you to experience them at their most vulnerable, taking you into their deepest Trust.
Though it may be difficult to hear and feel, these moments are to be valued more than any other drama, pretence or mask.
So who cares for the care worker?
Similar things can be said in education.
How does a teacher cope with the stress of being responsible for little people while working within a system they may or may not agree with?
It’s difficult and draining. I know; I did it for years.
For me, the most difficult thing in this environment was recognizing a child with additional needs, regardless of the form or label that may be attached to this.
Children are very simple.
Most of their communication is non-verbal.
This takes time to watch and process, which is very difficult with an entire group of children having individual needs.
For some reason, the children with additional needs, or outliers, those not within the spectrum of what may be considered normal or average, are the children I worked closely with.
They melt my heart.
Generally speaking, in Asia, all children are main-streamed.
There is minimal or no access to special needs environments.
I’ve spent many years in countries with no or minimal verbal language to communicate, so my default communication is always body language.
I trust this implicitly.
Much can be understood by observation, which is exactly how children learn and communicate if we take the time to watch them with no expectations.
The challenge is that there is no time for investing in close observation and subtlety in a general classroom setting.
The expectation is to sit down, listen, memorise and recall.
If this isn’t happening, all hell breaks loose, voices raise, and the children are to blame for being uncontrollable.
Many parents are requested to get their children controllable by being medicated as young as 3 years old.
While I’ve come across this many, many times in the West, I have yet to meet a medicated child in Asia.
I have yet to meet a child diagnosed with ADHD or ADD in Asia.
Again, I ask the same question.
Who cares for the carer?
Who does social work for social workers?
Has cognitive dissonance started creeping in?
Inner conflict with a love/hate relationship for what you do?
How do we prevent burnout?
And more likely….what do we do when we’re already burned out with no other option than to keep showing up, day after day?
You’re welcome to hear me speak on the burnout topic here.
I’ve seen this play out again and again.
Different environments same outcome.
Dealing with very high levels of stress, loss, and often traumatic stress within social services environments is very common.
Because we’re HUMAN!
Women will often say they are broken or weak when exhaustion and dread arrives within themselves.
They are some of the strongest women in order to deal with the challenges in these environments.
Definitely not broken.
More like DRAINED.
The bigger challenge is that people either don’t realise this or admit it to themselves or others, which means they go untreated.
We go numb.
People take on so much emotion from others, trying their best to nurture and support people, that they invariably become ill themselves.
I have witnessed this in many colleagues and experienced this myself with total adrenal burnout, which took me 2 years to recover from and a breast lump I knew I had for over a year before I finally had surgery.
I didn’t feel that I could take time off work for myself. It seemed selfish.
So I ignored it all the while having a colleague who was fighting breast cancer.
Sadly after devoting her entire life to her career as a wonderful pharmacist, caring for other people, she didn’t survive.
This totally pulled the rug out from under me and has taken a few years to come to terms with.
Even though I put on a brave face at the time, I was honestly terrified to get the results for the lump (which was thankfully benign).
Though this experience was Harrowing, I have learned much from it.
Making time to care for yourself is not selfish. It is absolutely vital.
Secondary/vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue are of valid concern.
Nourishing yourself first is the ethical thing to do.
At the time, I completed counselling training as a Hospice volunteer, which was invaluable in my personal journey and professional one.
Is any of this sounding familiar to you?
- The punch line to all of this is that a meditation and mindfulness practice was my saving grace in what felt like a time of insanity.
It provided a solid foundation for me to add to.
I was fortunate enough to have a group of mature friends experienced in meditation.
We met once a week to support each other, to share perspective and to meditate together.
We met every week for three years, as well as a monthly weekend retreat.
This level of support was invaluable, not only for me but also for the people I could support better.
I am and will be forever grateful for these people.
Are you beginning to wonder whether you may be showing these signs?
While caring for others is important, we need a balance and a solid foundation of self-care to keep moving forward and to keep seeing each situation for what it truly is.
It is appropriate and in your OWN BEST INTEREST for your OWN occupational health and safety to cultivate and enhance your OWN well-being.
Do not be complacent.
We CANNOT give more of ourselves to others than to ourselves.
Martyrdom and self-sacrifice never ends well!
Take time to reflect on your own needs and BE SURE to meet them! You cannot pour from an empty cup.
The bottom line is…I am now a Yoga School owner. I am now a trauma-informed conflict resolution practitioner and mediator, and I am now a masseuse. Primarily helping others take care of themselves in a sustainable way to the best of my own ability.
WORK WITH ME ON THIS 🙂
Make YOUR MASSAGE appointment.
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Self-Care is Vital
Copyright Colleen Glennis McClure