Last week, I was presenting at a Lunch n Learn for nurses on Compassion Fatigue. What I realized as I prepared this presentation, is that we can all learn a lesson. And that lesson is particularly needed around the holiday season. So, my holiday gift guide only contains one present and it is the best gift you can give yourself – the gift of self care. The following are highlights from the workshop, that anyone can and should incorporate. No shopping or gift wrapping required 😉
Moving yourself up the list
One of the first things I tell my clients to do, is to take a step back and assess what is not working. And the very first exercise is understanding where you rank YOURSELF in terms of your life’s priorities. So, here is a really quick activity for you:
- Take a blank piece of paper and jot down the following categories – WORK, FAMILY, FRIENDS, COMMUNITY, YOU
- Next, rank all of these categories from 1 (highest priority) – 5 (lowest priority)
- Where do you rank? Chances are you are not at the top of that list. In last week’s presentation, surprisingly, there was only 1 person out of a group of over 50 nurses that put himself at the top.
- Finally, how do you move yourself up the list? And make yourself the #1 priority? If you’ve placed yourself 4th or 5th, it might be overwhelming to try to go from the bottom all the way up to the top. Start by figuring out how you can move yourself up even just a notch or two, then over time you will find ways to move yourself even closer still to that top spot.
Develop a Self Care Plan
Self care should be a daily ritual. The simplest way to do this is to take time out (at least once daily, or as needed) to breathe. It doesn’t have to be any longer than 2 – 3 minutes for you to feel more centred and positive thoughts.
Be specific in the self care plan you prescribe for yourself by determining what, how often and when you will do something that is entirely devoted to you. What things do you currently do to practice self care? Or what would you enjoy? How frequently do you take time out for yourself? Review and revise your schedule to find the time for you. That might mean saying no or not now to other people’s requests or your daily tasks that have been standing in the way. If you are not doing anything (or not enough) for yourself, you need to schedule it in like you would any other important appointment and stick with it – no matter what!
Make certain to re-assess this plan you create for yourself every 3 – 6 months (or even monthly if you find you are at the bottom end of that prioritization list mentioned earlier). It will help keep the self care plan top of mind and move you to making it a regular habit.
What self-care gifts are you currently giving or planning to give to yourself? And not just for the season but always?