The dynamics of life are ever changing, from politics and climate change to social media. One thing I know from nearly four decades of clinical experience is that, as health care providers, each of us must make time for self-care and self-being (a new word I just created), meaning there is time to reflect and look after ourselves. This time of quietude is not a luxury. It is a necessity to restore ourselves and maintain our sense of self so that we can clearly maintain our boundaries while we nurture others. If you knew you could not fail (whatever that means to you), what would you do or not do in your time of self-caring and self-being?
As the world spins around every year I find my clients clamoring more and more for common sense, which is ‘not so common’ as the saying goes. I continually find it necessary to simplify how I explain to clients what is going on inside of them and how they can restore their health, so they can form a picture of how to carry out the plan of recovery. For most people, life is so complicated that doing one more thing in their profoundly busy schedule seems impossible. Helping them carry out recommendations so that they fit into their busy lives is essential.
A practical first recommendation is to suggest that clients shift their ‘state’ from being over-stressed to observing joy and beauty, which often only takes 1–2 minutes. Examples of techniques to accomplish this are mindful breathing when you are on hold on the telephone to relax your nervous system; humming quietly to yourself so that the vibration of your own voice in your body helps you focus within; noting when you see someone do something kind for someone else; enjoying a tree, a bird, a dog, a child being themselves.
Self-care is a welcome break that can be very time efficient. Epsom salt baths; growing pots of herbs, like lemon balm, each summer to make fresh, relaxing tea; listening to music through ear phones while doing other things; rubbing hands and feet with castor oil before bed—these are all simple activities that can be done to help your overall sense of well-being.
Of course, all of these recommendations are things the health care provider can benefit from themselves. Remember you cannot take your clients anywhere you have not gone yourself. Be a living example, look after yourself.
Dr. Verna Hunt, BSc DC ND