Dr. Susan Love knows a thing or two about the challenges that healthcare workers face. As a surgeon and cancer research advocate, she is regarded as one the most respected women’s health specialists in the United States.
And what’s her advice to other healthcare workers? “Take care of yourself mentally, spiritually and physically so that you can take care of the world.”
Easy to say, but in times like these—times when the need is outpacing resources and anxiety is building by the day—it’s much harder to do.
Here are a few ideas you can implement today that will provide a better way to care for your patients.
- Take care of yourself mentally. The words that roll through your mind are important, they shape your perception. This in turn causes you to have certain feelings which directly correlate to your attitude and actions. If you focus on the negative, you will see the world through a fearful lens, which will then guide your interactions with patients, coworkers and family. If, instead, you make the decision to only use self-talk that focuses on love, gratitude or how you can improve the situation in spite of the circumstances, your actions will perpetuate optimism, faith and hope. While it isn’t easy, you do have control over what you think and what you say. Pay attention to your thoughts and watch your word choice. Take charge of your attitude and make the current situation a little brighter for yourself and someone else.
- Take care of yourself spiritually. Spiritual self-care is the act of connecting to and nurturing your true self. Many people achieve this by attending religious services, observing cultural traditions or studying religious texts. In the broader sense you can also take care of yourself spiritually by spending time in nature, creating or enjoying art and music or even writing in a journal. There is no one right way to feed your soul, but taking even just a few minutes each day to do so increases the clarity and focus you will have when it is time to help others.
- Take care of yourself physically. Our body is the vessel that allows us to put our personal mission into action. If our physical health suffers, it doesn’t matter what we want to do, we won’t be able to be there when people need us. It is more important than ever that we begin implementing, or continue practicing, healthy habits. Prioritize sleep, find opportunities to move and stretch throughout the day and keep healthy snacks in plain sight. You don’t have to be perfect or do everything at once. Choose one small change that you can make to be just a little healthier this week than you were last week and feel confident that your body will be there when you need it.
Remember to keep your self-talk positive, spend a few minutes each day nurturing your soul, and help your body help you complete the tasks in your day. By doing these three things, you will be able to provide a better way to care for your patients, your community and the world.
Pari Smart, MBA, is a professional development specialist for Encompass Health – Home Health & Hospice