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“You cannot keep giving to others if you do not give to yourself, first. It is like pouring water from a vessel: you cannot pour and pour without ever refilling it - eventually it will run dry."
Leslie K. Lobell
Caring for people’s health is a big job. And it’s an important one. At SSM Health, we take patient care very seriously. As medical care providers, we have a responsibility to provide our patients with exceptional care.
But we can’t do that if we don’t take care of ourselves as well.
Humans aren’t meant to multi-task, even though the urge to do so is strong at times. We do our best work when we are focused and present. Present to one job, one task, one person.
Caring for our patients requires us to be focused, in the moment, and connected. Connected to our patients’ needs and wants. Connected to them as people so we can treat them better as patients. This allows us to give the best care. Present care.
But self-care is just as vital for caregivers. This allows us to focus on patient care when the time comes. Self-care means taking care of your mind, body and soul. Self-care is making the choice to be active in taking care of yourself. Self-care promotes well-being.
As we celebrate Health Care Week (May 7 - 13), we’re taking special time to recognize the efforts of our dedicated, compassionate, and talented caregivers. They offer hope and healing to our patients, not only through exceptional medical care, but through their actions and words. We are at our best when we are delivering present and personal care.
As caregivers, relationships with patients feed both the souls of our patients and our caregivers. And to be able to build relationships that result in exceptional patient care, we need to take care of each other and we need to take care of ourselves.
Andy Puddicombe, a meditation and mindfulness expert, put it well in his Ted Talk “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes.”
“The mind, our most valuable and precious resource, through which we experience every single moment of our life. The mind that we rely upon to be happy, content, emotionally stable as individuals, and at the same time, to be kind and thoughtful and considerate in our relationships with others. This is the same mind that we depend upon to be focused, creative, spontaneous, and to perform at our very best in everything that we do. And yet, we don't take any time out to look after it.”
We must take care of our minds in order to be the best at what we do. For caregivers, this means taking time for ourselves to reduce stress and avoid burnout.
Exercising, spending time with friends and family, volunteering, or starting a new hobby are all ways to take time for yourself. Everyone is different, so find what activities help you feel your best. The important part is actually finding time to do them. If it helps, put time for self-care on your calendar. If you find yourself with a few extra minutes, use that time to practice a mindfulness exercise or take a walk. And of course, eating right and getting enough sleep go a long way in self-care.
If our caregivers are happy and healthy, then we can ensure that our patients are happy and healthy as well. So caregivers, take time for yourself. Be present.
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