Thursday, February 24, 2011

Be Still

I'm not always so good about stopping and taking care of myself. Even when I do have down time I still am checking email/facebook/twitter, calling friends, reading books, crafting, watching tv, you name it. At my small group last night we discussed the need to take time to clear our schedules and simply rest. I mentioned that moving here was a good opportunity for me to reset; I was so incredibly busy in NC that I very rarely had time 'off' and when I did have a spare moment there were always stacks of assignments and papers to work on. When I moved here though I suddenly had nothing on the agenda (minus work) I started to lose my mind a bit. My natural inclination was to frantically search for activities to fill the dead space. I don't do well with free time.

The last two weeks have been crazy to say the least. In addition to working full time (closer to 45 or 50 hours than 40), I spent the previous weekend in Port Charlotte and this past weekend in Gainesville; multitudes of fun activities, but not much time to rest and recoup. I've been running on 5-6 hours of sleep a night and it finally came back to bite me. I went into work this morning, woke up with a bit of a sore throat but didn't think much of it, however suddenly realized during morning report that I was incredibly lightheaded. Over the next hours things progressed so much that my supervisor decided it would be best if I left for the day. I really didn't feel that sick, but when one works in the hospital, one has to be much more careful about infection control.

So I came home. I sat on the couch and practically haven't moved since. It's been glorious. I didn't realize how tired I was until I laid down to take a cat nap and ended up sleeping for 3 hours. I caught up on email, I watched the Ellen show, I even moved outside to watch the shuttle launch! (We're close enough that I could actually see the flames coming off the back of the shuttle). I've been able to watch Florida Basketball (Go Gators!), and catch up on assignments. Apparently God knew better than I that I would need a day of rest today, I just hope I am well enough to go back in tomorrow!

It's important no matter what our work might entail to make sure we are taking time for ourselves emotionally, spiritually, physically, etc. It's so easy to burnout and studies have shown that higher levels of stress are associated with increased risk for illness (Thank you psychoneuroimmunology!) As part of my thesis I included a survey asking people what types of self care strategies they find helpful in preventing emotional exhaustion. I thought I would include it here for you tonight. Read over it, think about your own self-care strategies, and maybe get some ideas of new techniques to try and keep your emotional health!

Self Care Assessment Worksheet
Source: Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization. Saakvitne, Pearlman & Staff of TSI/CAAP (Norton, 1996)
Physical Self-Care
___ Eat regularly (e.g. breakfast, lunch and dinner)
___ Eat healthy
___ Exercise
___ Get regular medical care for prevention
___ Get medical care when needed
___ Take time off when needed
___ Get massages
___ Dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, sing, or do some other physical activity that is fun
___ Take time to be sexual—with yourself, with a partner
___ Get enough sleep
___ Wear clothes you like
___ Take vacations
___ Take day trips or mini-vacations
___ Make time away from telephones

Psychological Self-Care
___ Make time for self-reflection
___ Have your own personal psychotherapy
___ Write in a journal
___ Read literature that is unrelated to work
___ Do something at which you are not expert or in charge
___ Decrease stress in your life
___ Let others know different aspects of you
___ Notice your inner experience—listen to your thoughts, judgments, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings
___ Engage your intelligence in a new area, e.g. go to an art museum, history exhibit, sports event, auction, theater performance
___ Practice receiving from others
___ Be curious
___ Say “no” to extra responsibilities sometimes

Emotional Self-Care
___ Spend time with others whose company you enjoy
___ Stay in contact with important people in your life
___ Give yourself affirmations, praise yourself
___ Love yourself
___ Re-read favorite books, re-view favorite movies
___ Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships, places and seek them out
___ Allow yourself to cry
___ Find things that make you laugh
___ Express your outrage in social action, letters and donations, marches, protests
___ Play with children

Spiritual Self-Care
___ Make time for reflection
___ Spend time with nature
___ Find a spiritual connection or community
___ Be open to inspiration
___ Cherish your optimism and hope
___ Be aware of nonmaterial aspects of life
___ Try at times not to be in charge or the expert
___ Be open to not knowing
___ Identify what in meaningful to you and notice its place in your life
___ Meditate
___ Pray
___ Sing
___ Spend time with children
___ Have experiences of awe
___ Contribute to causes in which you believe
___ Read inspirational literature (talks, music, etc.)

Workplace or Professional Self-Care
___ Take a break during the workday (e.g. lunch)
___ Take time to chat with co-workers
___ Make quiet time to complete tasks
___ Identify projects or tasks that are exciting and rewarding
___ Set limits with your clients and colleagues
___ Balance your caseload so that no one day or part of a day is “too much”
___ Arrange your work space so it is comfortable and comforting
___ Get regular supervision or consultation
___ Negotiate for your needs (benefits, pay raise)
___ Have a peer support group
___ Develop a non-trauma area of professional interest

___ Strive for balance within your work-life and workday
___ Strive for balance among work, family, relationships, play and rest

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