What can you do to take care of YOU today?
We are all busy and taking time to care for ourselves is often not high on our priority list. Many of us have chosen a profession and field where we are highly skilled at taking care of others. We care deeply about others and want the best for them. Sometimes this comes at the expense of taking care of our self. How do we even know where to begin to care for our own emotional and physical wellbeing?
Practice self-care – Do we even have time for one more item on our To Do List?
The importance of taking care of our own wellbeing, especially for those of us working in the helping professions, has gained national consideration as of late. The conversation is focused around the Quadruple Aim as introduced by The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI).
This idea began with the concept and framework of the Triple Aim. The term “Triple Aim” is a single aim with three dimensions that refers to the simultaneous pursuit of improving the patient experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of health care. The IHI Triple Aim framework was developed in 2007 by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Triple Aim is widely accepted as a compass to optimize health system performance. Yet members of the health care team report widespread burnout, dissatisfaction and the loss of joy in the work so many of us feel called to do. This loss of joy in work is associated with lower patient/client satisfaction, reduced health outcomes, and it may increase costs. This dissatisfaction can breakdown the intention of the Triple Aim.
Currently, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim has been expanded to a Quadruple Aim, which includes the addition of care team wellbeing and improved practitioner experience.
Wellbeing can and does include many areas: effective interprofessional collaborative practice and team-based care. It can also include individuals practicing self-care; being aware and taking action to keep themselves healthy and well. This is something we can begin to address now, and not wait for health systems or organizations to make changes.
Actions for us to consider:
- Getting adequate and regular sleep
- Hydrating with healthy fluids: drink water, water and more water
- Choosing nutrient rich foods: fruits, vegetables and nuts
- Minimizing sugar laden foods: candy, soda, sweetened coffees, cookies, cakes, donuts, and desserts
- Packing and bringing healthy foods as snacks and meals with you to work
- Saying “no” to activities and demands when you can, especially during periods of concentrated work demands
- Minimizing clutter: work space, car, home, garage, closets, electronic devices
- Asking for help, whether it is child care, elder care, grocery shopping, cleaning, hosting events. Let others help
- Getting fresh air. Nature has a calming effect
- Daily movement in terms of walking (especially if you sit a great deal), stretching, adding endurance fitness into your life
- Minimizing watching television mindlessly. Turn off the T.V.
- Practicing some type of calming and stillness activity: prayer, yoga, meditation, being in nature, reading, listening to music
These action items are not new for us. The challenge is making the decision to do something different. To add or maintain one of these actions.
What is one area and one action you can begin to implement in YOUR LIFE TODAY?
What is one area, one action that you can commit to?
How would your life be different?
What do you need to do to begin today?