Many health professionals work in relative isolation – behind closed doors – with their clients or patients. Constantly focusing on the needs of our patients or clients can sometimes come at the expense of our own resilience, health, satisfaction and wellbeing. Compassion fatigue and burnout often lead to poor decisions and reduce our ability to be deeply present with our clients or patients.
As a health professional such as a doctor, dentist, naturopath, nurse, yoga teacher or other health practitioner, it’s not a luxury to take care of your physical health and wellbeing, it needs to be the foundation of your practice.
Who you are is as important as what you know and do. Those that come to us for assistance with their health need our undivided attention as well as our skills and expertise. Many health professionals are working with people for whom there are no easy solutions and, as a practitioner, we need to know what to offer when we ‘can’t fix it, change it or make it better’.
Here’s a checklist of questions to ask yourself
1. Physical Health
How is your health? Do you make time for enough sleep, exercise, eating well, ‘fluffing yourself up’ through baths, massage, time in nature, listening to music or something that nurtures and supports you? Do you get regular health advice from someone you trust? Who checks in on you regularly to ensure you’re putting your own health-needs first?
Just because you’re a practitioner doesn’t mean you should prescribe your own healing pathway.
2. Mental Wellbeing
Do you have negative thoughts frequently or feel overwhelmed or burnt out? Do you experience anxiety, depression or feel constantly under pressure?
It’s not just anxiety or depression that are cause for concern; negative thought patterns impact your mental wellbeing. Small changes like identifying negative thoughts such as, “I’m out of my depth…”, “I don’t deserve this…”, “I don’t have enough time…”, and making a conscious effort to change your thoughts to more positive ones can improve your mental frame of mind.
3. Spiritual Wellbeing
Are you living the life you came here to live? Is your work a career? Or is it your vocation, your purpose?
Spirituality means different things to different people but living a meaningful life founded on compassion can help prevent burnout, compassion-fatigue or poor choices in decision making. Seeing your patients or clients as an opportunity to be in service to the highest in them is also nourishing and uplifting to yourself.
Do you have a network of people who ‘get you’?
Good relationships are vital to our health and wellbeing. Make sure you make time to nurture and cultivate good relationships. It’s especially important to have supervision, a friend or a mentor who you can discuss and debrief events that happen at work and in your personal life.
Do you know what to offer or say to someone when you can’t fix the outcome, change it or make it any better?
A toolkit of effective communication tools for difficult conversations is so important for insightful and skilful practitioners.
6. Hobbies & Activities
Do you enjoy at least one fun hobby or activity a week that doesn’t involve work?
We all need out-of-work activities to sustain and replenish us. If you’re not committed to anything right now, what hobby or sport might you try? It’s a great way to switch off from the work day and/or meet new people.
Are your work and home environments cluttered and disorganised? Your cupboards are a reflection of your mind!
An uncomfortable or disorganised physical environment can cause stress and disharmony. Make sure your environment reflects the relaxed and calm state you want to bring into your work and home life.
If some answers tell you that things could be improved, consider our weekend retreat Peace in Practice where you’ll learn skills to
- Enhance your ability to live in the present moment
- Equip you with effective communication tools for difficult conversations
- Understand the need and value of self-care – and feel highly motivated to make it your foundation for living
- Increase your ability to remain effective in turbulent, emotionally charged or chaotic situations
- Access the most valuable characteristics of an entrained brain – insight, intuition, wisdom, humour, spontaneity, creativity and compassion
- Understand yourself better and with increased respect for your own story