Self-Care for the Healthcare Provider ( + 6 tips to Start your Self-Care Plan!)

Self-care is often neglected by healthcare providers because they go into the field medicine to care for others.  Not only do they provide care to their patients, but many go home to busy households and fulfill various roles such as a parent, spouse, sibling or friend. This can take a toll on an individual and taking care of ourselves is often put aside. If you are a healthcare provider struggling with self-care, read on for tips to incorporate it into your life.

If you constantly care for others, and never about yourself, it can lead to burnout. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2016), “burnout is a syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion that results in depersonalization and decreased personal accomplishment at work”.

Why Self-Care Is Neglected

Why don’t healthcare providers care for themselves if they know how important it is? Researchers asked and the answers were lots of excuses, but the three top were:

  1. Lack of energy
  2. Too many responsibilities
  3. Appear weak to others

You can avoid these barriers by developing a self-care plan that is specific to your needs.  Consider the following self-care categories and stress-reducing activities for each category as you develop your self-care plan.  

Six Self-Care Categories + Stress-Reducing Activities

  • Workplace – Workplace  activities can include walking meetings with colleagues or even taking a few cleansing breaths throughout the day to re-energize.
  • Physical – Look where you can add in 30 minutes of activity a day. Two 15-minute walks before and after work can help immensely. You could also take the stairs instead of the elevator when possible.  
  • Psychological – Relaxing by journaling or meditating can help you decompress after a busy day.
  • Emotional – Be kind to yourself by using positive words and affirmations.  For example, tell yourself every morning as you brush your teeth, “I am enough” or “I am strong”.  Talk to yourself just as you do to someone you love.
  • Spiritual – You don’t have to be religious to include this in your self-care plan.  Activities such as mindfulness or yoga can help you center yourself and clear your mind.
  • Relationships – Be in the moment when you are around family and friends.  This means to be physically and emotionally present with others.  Don’t take this time for granted. For example, when having dinner with family or friends, don’t be attached to your phone or be thinking of something unrelated.  Enjoying the presence of others helps them to practice self-care as well as helps you.

Every month, reassess your self-care plan. What went well? What can be done better? Revamp until it works for you.


Time Blocking

Self-care is not about being selfish.  It is about taking time to give yourself the oxygen you need so that you can maximize your ability to care for others.  Think of caring for yourself as doing something as healthy and routine as brushing your teeth. For example, if you don’t brush your teeth, it can lead to gum disease. If you neglect caring for yourself, it will lead to health problems (hypertension, diabetes, obesity, etc.) and personal relationship problems.


Outcome of Self-care

Your self-care plan should focus on healing and re-energizing yourself. Many turn to this after the tipping point of burning out on the job.Ideally, the first goal is to transition the burnout for the healthcare provider to learn to lean on others, listen to your body, learn to say no and find happiness. Click To Tweet

After that, the goal is to prevent burnout from happening again.

Need a little extra help in getting your self-care plan started?  Try one of these apps:

Caring for yourself reflects positive energy and vitality that can be brought back to coworkers, patients and yourself. Recharge yourself by starting a self-care plan today!

I conduct workshops and presentations on self-care for healthcare organizations. Connect with me to help discover what your organization can learn.

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