I have been coming across so many articles, news feeds and tweets where burn out in medical professionals is being highlighted as a major concern. There are days when I feel the pressures at work too.
So what does this have to do with relationship with self?
I feel this is a question which has a lot of significance in the modern world. For me as a health professional a positive relationship with self has become more important than ever.
How do you talk to yourself?
What are you feeding your mind and body?
How are you nurturing yourself?
Over my twenty years of being a medical professional I have collected tools which have helped me support my wellbeing, both physically and mentally. This is not about being selfish. In fact, looking after yourself can be one of the most valuable things you can do to support the one’s around you. I see this with my patients as well as colleagues all the time, as I notice many of their health problems being interlinked with not being able to focus on self.
The steps I share sound simple but when put in practice they can lead to a ‘whole’ you …more present for all the other’s you want to be there for.
- Have a routine for some ‘me’ time, where you can reflect on how the day has been. The ups and downs, the challenges that triggered you. Ask yourself why did this bother me? Explore if there is another way of doing this? Is there an emotion which is not being addressed? And slowly build up on this and face the answers. I recently had a response from a colleague which seemed rude. Few years ago I would have responded to this email in a similar manner, possibly escalating the problem further. However, I was able to take a step back, look into what is actually going on and had an open chat with this person.
- Organise yourself as much as possible. It is easier said than done but little steps to make the day roll better all do come together. I try and plan my week and for days which are extremely busy, I prepare in whichever way I can.
- Learning to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty.
- Have a self-care routine. This may mean different things for each of us, but unless we focus on it, no one else is going to make it happen.
- Remember to remind yourself that not everyone needs to like you. Everyone has their own journey and as long as you are true to yourself, you do not need to please everyone. This is something I find people struggling the with most. ‘People pleasing’ not just puts you in a bad place, it affects others as well, when we are burnt out.
- Find the time to do things which nurture you. Have a date with yourself. I love scheduling little things during my week. It can be as simple as choosing a book for my next read, a walk with my sister, cooking something healthy at home…you know what I mean! Recently I planned a short drive just to listen to a nice song in the car. I often hear many people saying ‘I wish I could do …xyz.’ If you have such wishes, try and take tiny steps to make them happen – just for yourself.
- Have talking therapy if there are emotional issues which are unresolved. I see many people who are not even aware that they are suffering with past events. Dealing with difficult emotions can be hard, but leaving them hidden is harder as they do creep into day to day things some way or another.
- Make an effort to meet people who make you grow, make you feel positive and good. We all have a tendency to lean in when there is warmth, positivity and the feeling of being appreciated. I used to often say I am too busy, but now I find time. I know this time nurtures me, heals me and keeps me close to what is valuable for me.
- Know that signs that you are overwhelmed. This one has taken me some time to learn. As soon as I notice my mind racing, it is a prompt for me to ask myself- ‘what is going on?’. Often I find I have decided to do more than I can manage, or I have agreed for something that is pushing me out of my comfort. Just being able to breath and connect with my emotions, gives me the ability to pause and decide what can be changed. It could be as simple as –let’s have a coffee!
- Remember the ability to step back and stop only comes with awareness. Work maybe demanding, deadlines can be stressful and the day can be intense but we can all take a moment to breath, stop and be kind to ourselves.
- In spite of everything – things will go wrong on occasions. And to be able to accept this is also important. You do not need to be able to handle everything all the time. How you talk to yourself during such times is equally important? I often ask myself if I have done my best, that is where is stops. Having two teenage sons, I am often faced with situations where we do not agree on many things. It’s OK to argue and it’s also OK to disagree. It’s a skill I keep revising and it comes in handy with life outside home too.
- There will always be many people who can put you down, don’t be that person yourself. Be your own best friend.
I am sure most of us are aware of these things, but the question is how many of us are actually putting them into practice?
I hope you are able to step into the new week with some love and kindness towards yourself.