Healthcare providers discuss how they practice self-care
When it comes to our care providers, there is an implicit expectation that they can always take care of us. However, when their jobs become stressful, how do they manage that stress so that they don’t bring it into the exam room?
“We get to decompress when we go home but when you’re on the 12 hour shift it becomes harder to decompress in that moment,” says Kate Messenger, Director of Occupational Health at Foundation Health Partners.
Jacob Merritt, Pediatrics Practice Manager at Tanana Valley Clinic, adds more. “There’s in the moment things like that too like ‘hey, why don’t you take a walk because that was a really tough situation and it seems like you need a couple minutes to kind of calm back down,’” he says.
Kellie Dixon, with Environmental Services at FPH, was charged with cleaning surgical rooms. She says that COVID-19 made her job stressful. “Are we going to take it home to our families? Are we going to catch it?” she asks.
“I found over the years that I was doing no self-care,” says Jessica Aldabe, Lead CNA Mentor at the Denali Center. “And then I got taught that it’s a mindful practice, you have to actually train yourself to think ‘I need a break right now’. We’re in the industry where we’re caring and caring and sometimes we just need to take a step back.”
Danielle Plante, a Clinical Manager with TVC, adds that for healthcare workers, self-care is “really a time to reflect on their own personal health spiritually, mentally, we want to make sure that they are taken care of as well.”
“Spend time with the family, walk the dog, just go out and get some air, and just breathe,” Dixon says, regarding how she practices self-care at home. “Meditate, listen to music, dance with the kids or play X-Box.”
Aldabe notes that many people believe that self-care means something elaborate, like going to a spa. She says it can be something much simpler. “I would suggest that you would take your lunch break and take a breather before muscling on,” she says. “You have to take care of yourself first, you can’t pour from an empty cup.”