Helping Professionals Need Help, Too!

January 17, 2016

Have you ever wondered how your physician stays healthy, or how your psychotherapist maintains equanimity in the face of stress? We often take for granted that our health care providers maintain wellness in some mysteriously superior way, thus enabling them to take care of us. However, we are all human beings, and we all need to take care of ourselves regardless of our professions. A recent New York Times article on physicians and depression (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/upshot/silence-is-the-enemy-for-doctors-who-have-depression.html?_r=1) brings this point home. What are some things that healing professionals can do to maintain wellness? Here are four suggestions:

  1.  Have friends, hobbies and ways of spending time that are totally unrelated to your field of expertise. Take a little time to break away from your role as a helper, and enjoy the rest of the world. and what it has to offer you.
  2.  Take time for yourself each day to regroup. Make it non-negotiable. You say you’re too busy? If you break down physically or emotionally, you will probably wind up taking more time off work because you have to, than if you proactively and preventively take the time now. What do you do this time? Meditation, prayer, centering, all come to mind. Something that reminds you of your humanity and interconnectedness to everything else in the world.
  3.  Along the same lines, don’t over-schedule your time off. Delegate some of what you have to do or if you have no one to help you, decide if all the things you “must” do really have to be done now. Learn how to manage time in a way that is humane to you and those around you.
  4.  Avoid people who drain you. I know, that sounds like the opposite of what makes you special and unique. However, there are some people who, no matter how assertive and clear you try to be with them, keep doing the same things over and over that drive you up the wall. That creates unnecessary stress and ultimately resentment. This suggestion might be difficult if they are people who are close to you, but in the long run it is more humane to disengage from people who need too much, than to randomly explode verbally on them because you’ve suppressed your resentment and tried to be “there” for them. If you haven’t learned to balance your needs with those of others, this is as good a time as any to begin learning.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section. If you’d like help with taking better care of yourself, please give me a call. I’d love to help.