Going to work and performing our best each day is a desirable goal not only for the satisfaction we ourselves receive but also for the ripple effect it has on our families, colleagues, patients and clients. However, as we head into the busy season we face a new array of demands on our time, additional responsibilities and new challenges which can leave us feeling a little deflated which in turn results in our performance dropping to a sub-optimal level.
Spending a moment to focus on our own self-care and encouraging those around us to do the same can be a positive way to enhance our team culture and can result in an uplift in our daily enjoyment as we bring our best to each situation. When teams are feeling their best this often leads to better communication, reduced sick leave, increased engagement and higher levels of job satisfaction.
So, where do we start? Dr David Foote, a veterinarian, educator and trainer who hosts IVA’s Counselling Hotline shares his 8 Tips for Self-Care:
- Manageable workload. Consider the total demands on your time and know that ‘workload’ means total demands across the whole of life, not just working hours.
- Take time out daily. Take control as much as you can and utilise any opportunities that arise for respite, even if for 5 minutes, walk around the block, take your coffee break outside and step away from the intellectual, emotional and physical challenges that are implicit in our work.
- Daily mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness, thanks to neuroplasticity, rewires our brains in a variety of positive ways that improves our quality of life and helps build resilience. You will get the most benefit from a daily practice but even weekly practise to begin with has been shown to be beneficial.
- Debrief (support networks). Its healthy if we communicate honestly on a regular basis about how we are going internally – our thoughts and feelings about our life. “ Don’t do it alone and don’t pretend you are OK and everything is fine if it isn’t.”
- Schedule fun activities. In a basic way it acts as an important counterbalance to the often serious nature of our work as caregivers with its implicit high level of responsibility and strong focus on problem-solving.
- Eat well. What is unquestioned is the importance of diet to our overall wellbeing including prevention or lowering of risk of harmful health conditions. Also, an exciting, relatively new, field of research is starting to show evidence that diet can affect our mental wellbeing.
- In a parallel way to diet, exercise is both preventative and therapeutic for a broad range of health conditions. Start simple one day at a time.
- Sleep is one domain of self-care that is critical to our day to day physical and mental wellbeing. Even 30mins less sleep at night than your ideal (roughly 8hrs) has an impact on your overall wellbeing and undermines your capacity to be resilient regardless of what else you may be doing to enhance it.
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