‘An empty lantern shines no light, self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly’ — unknown.
Do you find yourself consistently meeting the needs of a roster that just keeps pulling you in: your friends, your family, the children's school, the local footy or netball team, giving only to the outside world?
Life as a compulsive carer has many rewards: a smile from a child, the relief when you promise a friend you will be by their side in a time of need, or the gratitude families feel when you go the extra mile for their unwell loved one.
However, if you expend your energy without ‘filling your own cup’, you will quickly find yourself suffering from more ailments than if you came down with the winter flu — such as burnout, stress, physical exhaustion, loss of motivation, reduced productivity, detachment, or food or substance abuse.
A 2016 survey, ‘What Nurses & Midwives Want’ by Monash Business School’s Australian Consortium for Research on Employment and Work (ACREW) found over a third of nurses and midwives have considered leaving the professions due to rising work demands and burnout. We are an industry that is having an epiphany: we need to change.
Back in the 80s, I took my two-month-old child on a trip to Sweden. Listening to the flight attendants’ safety demonstration, I reflected deeply for the first time on the instruction to make sure to put the life-saving oxygen mask on myself first. At the time, this seemed absurd. I was young and confident: saving my boy would absolutely be my priority. Now, with a little age and wisdom, I know that I would be useless to my son if I could not breathe myself.
Are you wearing your oxygen mask?
The desire to help others is what draws people to the service industry. That need to help is not only our collective strength but our greatest vulnerability.
Stress, anxiety and burnout are rising to the level of an epidemic. The time has come to listen to your cabin crew and put your oxygen mask on first.
10 powerful steps to go from surviving to thriving
- Fill your own cup.
- Shift your mindset: self-care is not selfish, it’s self-less.
- Take up meditation. Meditation is making its way into every industry. Play with the tool that is changing lives everywhere.
- Get out in nature. Nature nurtures and has the ability to regenerate just by being in it.
- Remember what you are grateful for and feel it with every cell. Gratitude has been shown to support immunity.
- Movement and motion. Your body was born to move. Regenerate and renew by allowing your body to do what it was born to do.
- Remember you are worth the love you give to others.
- Turn off the TV. Our world is full of drama and working in health care takes you to the front line. Give yourself some love by turning off the drama when you get home, you are worth it.
- Limit processed foods. The more processed they are the more work it takes your body to digest. When your immunity is down, that added effort is the last thing it needs.
- Remember to breathe.
“Those who think they don’t have time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” — Edward Stanley
The Evolve Yourself Institute delivers the only teacher, nurse and midwife CPD accredited self-awareness and self-care education in Australia. Programs and information can be found on their website.