Welcome to National Recovery Month!

 

In recognition of National Recovery Month, on the surface I am gearing this writing towards providers who are actively involved in the care and treatment of those who struggle with addiction, however the awareness of “self-care” applies to all of us regardless of our chosen profession or purpose in life. Most of us (if not all of us) have heard the term “self-care”. Most of us (if not all of us) need occasional reminders to prioritize and engage in practices of self-care

I would like to share with you a gift of wisdom my grandfather gave to me decades ago when I first started out in my career. Grandpa sat me down and in his typical voice of wisdom said “listen to what I am about to tell you because this is fact of life that is not debatable. If you are tired, frustrated and burned out, you are providing for your patients and loved ones a tired, frustrated and burnt-out caretaker. However, if you are happy, healthy and energetic, you are providing for your patients and loved ones a happy, healthy and energetic caretaker. If you want them to have the latter of the two then it is not selfish at all for you prioritize time to just take care of yourself so that when the time comes to take care of someone else, you are the BEST you that you can be!” In a fast-paced industry where crisis and unscheduled events can take place at a moment’s notice, setting aside time for self-care is a practice that we all at times might be tempted to neglect in the interest of getting the job done.

There are three pillars of physical health that we know directly influence good physical health: 1 – Eat healthy 2 – Sleep healthy 3 – Exercise healthy. If you are not regularly engaging in one or more of these practices, you reduce your chances of good physical health. I choose to focus on these three areas because I believe that if the body is healthy, the mind tends to follow. On the other hand, if the body is NOT healthy… the mind tends to follow. Physical health is a great starting point for self-care. If you’re like me and you spend eight or more hours per day sitting in a therapist’s chair, physical movement during the work shift is minimal at best. If you spend eight hours seeing back-to-back patients on a full schedule, nutritional intake is at risk of neglect as well. If you spend eight hours sitting at a computer hammering out session notes, developing treatment plans or responding to the numerous emails we get on a daily basis (or typing up articles so that the social media department of your clinic has something to post 😀 ) then the lighting of the electronic screens can expose us to excess blue light which we are learning disrupts the circadian rhythm which can negatively influence our quality of sleep. I encourage us all to find creative ways to keep physical movement, good nutrition and a healthy sleep routine in place.

In closing, YOU are your most valuable tool and asset on your journey in this life. Every asset in your office or workplace is replaceable or at risk of being outdated and become obsolete over time. YOU are the only you that you will have in this lifetime. Take time to properly maintain the vehicle that is you and reduce the risk of your most valuable asset falling out of repair. Schedule time for self-care and honor that time you’ve set aside as a boundary that should not be violated. Or if unavoidable, only moving that boundary in emergency circumstances!

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John Walters