May 5, 2009 – Think about it; you are managing a personal service business and spending all of your time helping others.
|Photo by Megan Morgan,
Think about it; you are managing a personal service business and spending all of your time helping others. It can be an incredible high, and wonderful reward, to make a positive difference in the lives of so many people. As a health-care professional, balancing giving to others with giving to yourself is critical to good health and a long career. Without balance you risk burnout – mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion, accompanied by a diminished sense of personal accomplishment, dragging spirits and lagging passion.
Patients present to your office with their physical complaints, and emotional and psychological baggage. Not all patients are happy, healthy or on maintenance plans – some are in considerable pain and discomfort. There is Martha, one of your favourite patients. She’s perky, responds well to treatment and easily expresses her gratitude for your skill and expertise. After her visit, you feel good! Conversely, there are patients like Mildred, who presents with chronic low back pain, borderline depression, and a disempowering attitude. She tests your skill, compassion and inner strength. She drains your energy! Ongoing personal assessment, awareness and inner healing are critical to performing at your best.
Here are five strategies to help you maintain your balance.
1. Acknowledge Your Emotions
How do your staff and patients make you feel? Happy? Frustrated? Energized? Drained? What emotional reactions and past memories are they stirring up in you?
Are you effectively processing your emotions before, during and after patient visits? We can learn much about ourselves by observing and acknowledging our own emotions with a caring and compassionate eye.
Emotions hold a great deal of energy in our psyche and physical body. This energy, if not expressed, becomes suppressed and can manifest into physical, emotional, and mental illness and disease. While this is an idea that has long been suspected, today, researchers are gathering scientific evidence documenting the physiological changes in blood pressure, heart rate, immune system response, and hormonal levels in correlation with emotional reactions.
Suppressing our emotions is a learned behaviour. In our busy world, we consciously, and often unconsciously, suppress our feelings, hoping that we will have time to deal with them later that day, or at some time in the future. Small emotional wounds and feelings of insecurity can lead to big ones over time, disempowering us and creating negative patterns and behaviours. By recognizing and expressing these emotions, we promote self-healing, inner peace and happiness.
2. Find an Outlet for Negative Emotions
I used to regularly play squash and could always tell my partner’s mood by the intensity with which he returned my serve. On the days when he was frustrated, the ball came back hard and fast. Recognizing the game was his outlet, I never took it personally. I, on the other hand, have always taken solace near water. The calming property of this element promotes both self-awareness and self-healing.
Finding an outlet such as nature, sports or a creative hobby, to regularly express your negative emotions is a blessing to those around you and your own emotional, mental, and physical health.
3. Explore Your Creative Side
Creativity exercises areas in the right brain that promote superior problem-solving skills, holistic reasoning, and intuition. Exploring your creative side can also bring balance into our predominantly “left-brain” world.
Since the right brain is responsible for image processing, mental visualizations are as creative as art, drama, gardening, or cooking. Envision yourself playing a musical instrument, painting like Rembrandt, or building sandcastles on a warm summer day. It will boost your energy, calm your nerves and help you find better, more inclusive solutions to current challenges.
4. Care for your Mind-Body-Spirit
Few of us leave the house in the morning without having had breakfast and brushed our teeth. Many of us slip in some time to exercise, check the weather, catch the headlines, and prepare a to-do list. If this is part of your routine, you’ve prepared your body and mind for the day. What about your spirit?
Feeding your spirit is a unique expression of who you are. It may mean 10 minutes of quiet time, meditation, or prayer, which stills the mind and allows you to connect with a greater energy force and your inner joy. It may be lovingly getting your child ready for their day, or dancing around the living room to a favourite feel-good song. It’s that spiritual boost that lifts you up, opens your heart, and puts a joyful smile on your face. Small doses of spirit-boosting activities every day, and larger doses on a weekly basis, lead to a constant state of happiness and overall good health.
5. Set Aside Time for Reflection
Take regular opportunities to reflect on your actions, interactions, successes, failures and dreams. Ask yourself: Am I happy? Are my thoughts and actions aligned with my desires and intentions? What needs to be healed in my life? How can I grow emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually? How can I become a better doctor, a more concerned citizen and a more compassionate human being? Inner wisdom and guidance will come to you if you are open and willing.
Have courage, dig deep, acknowledge your own uniqueness and worth, be kind to the people in your presence, and you will feel more joyful and passionate about everything in life.
Janet Blanchard is a speaker, coach, and communication specialist in Toronto. She offers workshops for improving patient-provider communications and increasing job satisfaction and passion to health-care professionals. She has worked with health-care professionals for more than two decades, and has spent the past decade specializing in health-care communications. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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