Written by Samantha Wall, LCSW
Edited by Joe DeNoon
In the last blog, Francine Baffa discussed the 80/20 principle. Francine stated, “It’s about recognizing the imbalance of what needs to be done to reach contentment and happiness and doing only that and not extra work that doesn’t result in anything positive.” In this blog, I will be discussing the act of caring for ourselves, as there is such a big imbalance for nurses who care for others all day, but at the end of the day, struggle to care for themselves. “Self-care refers to all the steps you take to tend to your physical and emotional health in the ways you are best able to do so.” (Moira Lawler)
Caring for ourselves is something I have talked about before in the blog, and I am sure it is something you hear about all the time at work. I know for me, it sometimes feels like ‘self-care’ can be a blanket statement that doesn’t have any skills behind it. Many times, it can seem like self-care is taking a bath, reading a book, and doing tasks that are relaxing, but self-care is so much more! It is an activity that brings us enjoyment or joy, and that doesn’t always mean taking a bath or doing something that is considered ‘relaxing’. Moira Lawler talks about how our perspective also affects if a task could be considered self-care. She uses the example of preparing for a marathon. The act of running may not be enjoyable, but you may feel joy from reaching your goal of completing the marathon. Self-care tasks could also be cleaning your space, prioritizing doctors appointments, or going grocery shopping. The act may not bring you joy specifically, but completing the task or getting it done will bring you overall peace and joy.
Finding self-care tasks can take some time to figure out, and it may take a little while to find what tasks work for you! A place to start is to think about what helps you feel centered. Is it listening to music or a podcast, driving with the windows down, or cleaning your room? There are so many ways different people can feel grounded. The next step is thinking about how to incorporate the self-care tasks into your life. How often can you do this task? When will it be the most beneficial to use? These questions will help narrow down when and where you can use it. Two other helpful things to do when implementing a new self-care routine are to get support and tweak it as you go! Caring for ourselves needs to feel doable, so if it is not feeling helpful, change it! There is no shame in tweaking it as we learn what will work best for ourselves. Prioritizing our own needs and feeling how it can benefit us can help us sustain the change, and make it doable for the long term, not just for a week or a month.
As stated by Francine, “When we can embrace the change and believe it is an internal attribute, we can become that change.” When we are trying to take better care of ourselves, it is important to embrace that change. We can embrace the shift in prioritizing others’ needs over our own to prioritizing others and our own needs.