Self-Care in HealthCare: More Important Than Ever Before
February 3, 2023
Each day in the life of healthcare professionals brings stress and risk along with feelings of satisfaction when making a difference in the lives of others. Giving so much time and dedication might come at a cost to their health and well-being. According to the National Institute for Health Care Management, 79% of physicians reported burnout - starting before our most recent pandemic.
While many contributors challenge healthcare professionals' mental, physical, and emotional health, there are also aspects that support it. Healthcare professionals continuously provide care and, as demands on them increase, they reduce their own care. A 2022 research article in Social Science & Medicine – Mental Health identified that healthcare professionals have been unable to return to their pre-COVID strategies for work-related stress and to return to their “normal life outside work.” The disruption required individuals to find new self-care strategies and mindsets.
February is a month especially suited to helping explore and practice self-care methods due to the many national heath-related days spread throughout this month.
The surveyed healthcare providers identified the most helpful ways in these challenging times. A few of these include:
• Focusing on their mindset, finding ways to embrace “positive thinking, optimism, and calmness as important forms of self-care.”
• Appreciating “the value of kindness, empathy, and compassion for self, and others.”
• Reclaiming time to care for themselves by intentionally “taking time to engage in activities that are relaxing, revitalizing and show care for themselves, those they love, their patients and their colleagues.”
Starting with one of the most important ways to practice self-care for healthcare professionals, February is recognized as American Heart Month - encouraging all to focus on heart health. With cardiovascular diseases being the leading cause of death globally, there are a variety of local and national organizations offering programs to help remind, educate, encourage, and support them to take care of their hearts.
Here are three sources of support for heart health:
• CDC Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
• Million Hearts 2027 Initiative
The month of February also honors Random Acts of Kindness Day which began on February 17, 1995.
A 2022 study by Ohio State University, recently published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, Healing through helping: an experimental investigation of kindness, social activities, and reappraisal as well-being interventions, identifies the positive impact on mental health by doing acts of kindness.
David Cregg, co-author of the study, explained: “Social connection is one of the ingredients of life most strongly associated with well-being. Performing acts of kindness seems to be one of the best ways to promote those connections.”
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation helps everyone by providing a wide variety of random acts they can consider for their home, work, community, and world. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation slogan is: “Make kindness the norm.” This month, make kindness toward yourself your norm! Let their ideas help spark intentional kindness for you and those around you.
Check out their ideas here: Random Acts of Kindness.
Another essential day in the middle of the month is Valentine’s Day. Having grown into a $24 billion dollar industry, individuals enjoy shown love and affection. This year, healthcare professionals are encouraged to intentionally celebrate love and care - for themselves, as well as others.
Through exploring various ways to practice self-care throughout the month of February, curiosity might arise on other ways to throughout the year. There are a variety of websites that provide what each day, week, and month of the year is being recognized for. Here’s a simple one to get started: DaysoftheYear.com.
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