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Care + Career

Resources, news and fun for NHA certification candidates and alumni.

Self-care in healthcare: Finding work-life balance


As a healthcare worker, you dedicate endless hours to helping others. It’s a noble job that speaks to your compassion for others. But what about you — How many hours do you spend helping yourself?

Judy O. Berry, Ed.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of Tulsa, compares a person’s self-care needs to a cell phone’s battery needs. Cell phone batteries need to be recharged. You can do this at three different times:
  1. When the battery is completely without power
  2. When the phone is notifying you to pay attention “Low battery — please charge!"
  3. Regularly recharge to always have power


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Likewise, Berry says, you need to be recharged. You also have three times to do this:

  1. After all your energy is depleted
  2. When your body, mind and spirit are screaming for attention
  3. Proactively at all times — finding that perfect balance

(Source)

Which method would you prefer?

Most of us would choose option three, though that’s easier said than done. Especially for healthcare workers, who spend much of their time and energy caring for others. That battery gets drained providing for others, and by the end of the day, sometimes there’s not enough motivation to give ourselves a recharge.

But it’s important. It’s important because if we haven’t charged our battery, we don’t have energy to give. Patients don’t get the quality care they deserve, and you run the risk of burnout or even what psychologists call "compassion fatigue." 

So, how do you recharge?

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Here are 10 simple ways to add some self-care to your everyday routine.

(Some of these can be done at work!)

  1. Take a walk to get some fresh air.
  2. Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.
  3. Take a hot bath.
  4. Rest. Give yourself adequate time to wind down (screen-free) before bed and prioritize the quality and quantity of your sleep.
  5. Exercise regularly — whether you go to the gym or the yoga studio, mindful movement has been shown to relieve stress in countless studies.
  6. If you’re stressed out, talk about it. Talk to a co-worker or peer who has likely been in your shoes and understands your stress.
  7. Start a compliments notebook. Any time a patient or colleague gives you a compliment, jot it down and reference this notebook when you need a pick-me-up.
  8. Have some me-time doing what you love. Read a book, do a hobby, etc.
  9. Consider making a small diet change — what’s one small change you can make this week?
  10. Stretch. Give your body a break and stretch out the kinks. If you’re at work, take five and do this in the bathroom if you want to avoid strange looks.
Find what works for you to strike a balance. Don’t wait until your battery is drained to practice self-care — be proactive and prioritize yourself. You’ll feel better, and you’ll be a better care giver for it.
“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by myself.” - Brian Andreas

Topics: allied health careers, professional tips