We are in a particular situation in history when working in health care is tense, unpredictable, changeable and unprecedented.
Is it helpful to ask the question of whether in this environment we are hapless victims of all that is going on, or whether we can hold ourselves in a way that will mean we do not simply survive the next months but actually learn, grow and thrive, ready for whatever is needed and strong when this is all over?
If we go for the latter option then what do we need to do?
Maybe it is very simple…
Can we build a responsive, listening relationship with our bodies and take care to stay connected to a quality that supports us to move and breathe in a way that does not heighten the atmosphere around us, but actually makes space for steadiness and true care? The challenge is the sustaining of a rhythm in our daily lives that supports us to be steady, sure about the significance of our work and therefore at ease with taking responsibility for the way we take care of ourselves so that we move in a way that is not nervous, fearful or anxious.
If we ask the question, ‘What keeps me well?’ and start super simply we would probably come up with similar aspects of life to look at. Diet, hydration, exercise and sleep (rest), for example.
So let’s look at the 4 categories suggested above.
We do know (however much we pretend otherwise) what food does and does not nourish and support us and that there is no perfect diet ‘out there’. If we listen carefully to our bodies we will be guided clearly and, by way of a playful example, if we were to ask our liver whether it would like us to consume alcohol (a known toxin) what do you think it would say? The great thing is that with this respectful, listening, responsive approach we will soon gain a great understanding of our bodies and what supports them from one day to the next.
I am sure we underestimate the significance of staying well hydrated. Supporting our biochemistry to have the wherewithal to transport and excrete effectively requires efficient hydration and we all know what it feels like to feel dry. So let’s not go there. Let’s make it part of our everyday to stay well hydrated and we know that this primarily means consuming plenty of water. Because be honest, do caffeine, alcohol and sugary drinks really support us?
Exercise has become such a buzz word in the world and there are certainly many ideals and beliefs about it and what our bodies should look like. What if exercise is actually about building a body that is strong and fit for our unique lives and that it needs to develop and change on a day by day basis; that exercise is an opportunity for us to get to know our bodies and how to move with gentleness and care and what if exercise is actually our every movement throughout the day and not isolated to the daily/weekly slot we allocate?
Sleep is an integral part of our daily cycles and is the culmination of our days. It provides the time where our bodies rest and refresh for the following day. Our sleep is influenced by how we move through our days, how we wind down from our day and what we engage in as we wind down and how we prepare for bed. Working shifts can interfere with this very important body cycle, so it is important that we bring our awareness to how we navigate this in a way that supports our body to rest and sleep. Being aware of the way we live during the day, the choices we make, the care we afford ourselves, will bring much clarity to the patterns in our lives that do or do not support rest and restorative sleep. Again, by way of example, we know that stress is an agent of adrenaline (our fight and flight hormone) and if that is coursing through our bodies it is unlikely that we will rest well.
We can get to know ourselves well; know what truly supports our bodies and move in a way that reflects this to others. We have the opportunity to explore what self-care is and how it is not only a foundation for wellbeing, but a way of living life fully and vitally. This relationship with ourselves is something that is never ending and it is fun to realise that there is always more we can learn and explore. We do not need to shoulder this alone either… we can resource each other for support and actually deepen our relationships and care for one another.
Could it be that all or some of these things could support us to continue to adore our work, thrive in the strangest of situations and come out stronger and wiser at the end of it?