Burn-out, compassion-fatigue, second-hand trauma, bureaucratic-overload, toxic-stress, smiling-sadness, and all of it’s variations, paired with an innate desire to serve, can create situations where one wants to bring his/her best self to important work, but simply cannot do so because his/her own personal state of being requires support of its own. This is normal and is a known problem within all professions in which human interaction is required on a consistent basis.
For many who serve in any capacity, but especially in a capacity where high-compassion work is involved, this accumulation of stress, can not only lead to frustration, and even guilt, but also has the potential to spiral into jadedness and mental/emotional exhaustion if left unchecked for a long period of time, a state of being that is the farthest thing to what a service-worker intends to accomplish when engaging in their work to begin with.
As a care professional, on the front line of life, interacting with your clients, students, and the people who you serve within your community each day, you are an indisputable asset to the infrastructure of our civilization, and this is not a grandiose but an absolutely factual statement that the CoVid 19 pandemic has only emphasized. With your innate desire to serve in the creation of positive change, and your willingness to bear witness to and provide support for, the most difficult situations imaginable, you often hear, “thank you for your service” on a day-to-day basis, but are you thanking yourself for your work by giving yourself what you need in order to fully honor what you have the capacity to bring forward through your presence and efforts each day?
Please always remember that it is vital, as service professionals, to be our best in our work in order to best serve others, not just in terms of the skills that we bring to our work, but also in terms of our state-of-being our best-cared-for self as well. After all, it is only you that you offer in support of your cause in most cases, your amazing skillsets honed from years of study and application, but most importantly, your empathy and willingness to help reduce suffering and/or struggle using your expert skills. The best way be your best, most healthful, self is to always ensure that your own needs are served by you at all times as well in order to then enable you to have the capacity to give more to others.
You know the old saying: “you can’t pour from an empty cup?” Why then, with this knowledge, do you try to do so continuously with yourself?
You: your most valuable resource, are the primary tool that you hone, and craft, and improve, in order to be of greatest service to others, so your well-being matters above all other things when it comes to preparing your tool-kit.
Always prioritize your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self-care when you are tasked with serving others.
Ask yourself: What batteries within myself need recharging?
Then, find a healthy source for replenishing these depleted part of yourself each day, and remember that this important, essential, work can only be done by you (both the work of replenishing your drained inner batteries, and the important work of the service that you provide to others).
Are you lacking in sleep, or is it a replenished sense of purpose that you are missing?
Today, take some time to really evaluate where you are right now and ensure that you are not on the verge of burnout or fatigue that can create suffering within you that hinders your ability to best serve those you care so much about.
Remember that the best way to Love others, and to show your Love for them, is to truly Love yourself.
Set aside at least 2 hours (and I mean it, do not short-change yourself) to focus on the task of only giving to the source within you that motivates and strengthens your reserves to keep moving forward. Devote one hour to something kinesthetic (meaning involving movement and your body) and one hour to something reflective, or mentally/emotionally fulfilling.
For example: If you have lost your passion for your cause due to some bureaucratic roller-coaster ride that you have been on for years, or even a few weeks, and it has you feeling like change will never be made within the realms of your work, consider martial arts, kick-boxing, or dancing as a way to replenish your fighting-spirit and consider gratitude journaling as a means for reigniting your passion.
Singing, walking, Yoga, working out consciously, meditation, therapy, prayer, drawing, painting, sewing, reading for pleasure, and so on and so forth, provide a wide range of things that can count towards your Self-Care Hours, but it is vital that you log these Self-Care Hours hours into your life/schedule each day and show up for them.
Never neglect to acknowledge the important role that your well-being plays in the lives of others, and always keep in mind that keeping, you, the most important tool in your toolkit, in great condition, is the best way to effectively do your work.