There is an adage that suggests, “your life does not get better by chance…it gets better by change.” In the health-caring professions, practitioners are very likely drawn to their professions by their care for humanity and health. Often, that caring component might translate or grow into a practice of putting everyone, certainly our clients or patients, ahead of ourselves in terms of life priorities; that is to say, we become so invested in helping others to make changes to better their health that the investment erodes or side-steps our own care. We might make up that we don’t have time for our own care with a kind of self-righteous devotion to the seemingly greater goal of caring for others. What if self care were to be perceived as a necessity, rather than a luxury in the work that we do? Self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent…it is more about self preservation so that we can continue to care for our clients and patients in the most optimal fashion we can. Consider the larger implications of the familiar safety instructions from flight attendants during pre-flight communications with passengers: ” If there is a loss of cabin pressure, the panels above your seat will open, and oxygen masks will drop down. If this happens, place the mask over your nose and mouth, and adjust it as necessary. Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others.” It is the last piece of this important message that is metaphorically instructive. What if we adopted that practice in our daily lives? What pressures have we created in our professional lives that necessitate us being more mindful about self-care? What parts of our lives need to be adjusted so that we can help others even more effectively? What could we do better to honour self-care? What anchor do you need to remind yourself about changing your self-care behaviour?
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