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It’s Time To Take Your Own Advice

Posted by David Couper on September 24, 2015 9:45 AM

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I’m not a doctor or a nurse, I don’t even play one on TV, but one thing I have noticed about my caregivers over the years is that they have given me some great advice about staying well. They have all suggested exercise, weight loss, stress reduction, and even counseling and yoga to deal with life’s issues; yet, so many of them don’t seem to follow their own advice. When I visited my local hospital recently, I noticed how many healthcare professionals seemed stressed and unhappy. In fact, many research studies and my own work experience with healthcare companies show that many healthcare employees are in crisis about their own health and well-being.

A recent documentary entitled “Resilient Nurses” shares how nurses work “12 hour shifts which can lead to sleep deprivation and in turn cause physical problems like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Seventy-seven percent of nurses reported they do not eat properly on a regular basis.”

Our current healthcare system is going through some of the most challenging times we have ever known. One of my clients, a senior executive in a very well-known HMO, said that he had never known it to be this busy in his 25-year career. Everyone is demanding something from you, and it has to be now or earlier. 

Why don’t you follow your own advice?

Here’s the thing—if your patients don’t find the time to take your well-being advice, you know what the consequences will be. Don’t the same consequences apply to you, or have you somehow developed or created a different treatment that we non-healthcare types don’t know about?

My bet is you feel like you don’t have time. Maybe you are thinking, ”I don’t have time to go to the gym, or to the farmer’s market and buy organic kale, or take a vacation in Vail or Venezuela where I get the chance to switch off. I exercise when I walk the halls of my hospital or organization.  I don’t have time for a food break, so I eat food from the vending machine – yes, even those mystery meat sandwiches.  I’ve heard of vacations, but they are a waste of time. People need me!”

Your limiting belief systems will impact your health. Maybe not now, but possibly in your near future.  How can you shift your mindset to taking better care of yourself? How can you find some relief? Here are some suggestions:

1) Shifting Your Beliefs

If we believe that we don’t have time, if we talk about how busy we are, if we think that we won’t get everything done we should, then probably that is what we will get.  Without diving too deep into metaphysics and woo-woo, most healthcare professionals know that patients who talk about positive outcomes, are connected to others and doing things that make them happy, have better recoveries and heal faster.

I would say that is true about how we think of time. 

When I go to the airport and worry about the lines at the check-in, security and even Starbucks, that’s what I will find. I will be rushing, worried about being late and stressed.  When I shift my mindset and start being open to it all being fine, sometimes it is fine (and sometimes it’s not), but at least I have not spent time worrying about it. My stress levels are reduced, and I’m more peaceful.

Don’t focus on how much time you don’t have, but try to bring your attention back to the time you do have.

2) Take 15

Healthcare professionals think about other people first—their patients—but if they do this at the expense of themselves, they may be not serving those who need healing.  Not taking the time to go for the 15 minute walk around the block deprives us of reflection time, fresh air, and exercise, and it potentially deprives the patient of having the healthcare professional in a positive, caring and focused space.

I make time on most days to meditate, reducing my stress and keeping my focus. I spend 15 minutes whenever I find the time because I know that I feel better, I am less stressed with my team, and the day just goes better, and I am less likely to snap at my son when he comes home from school. I don’t do it for me as much as for others.

Think about how you help yourself first so that you can help others better.

3) Have to vs Want to

Some of us are not clear about what we have to do as opposed to what we want to do. ”Have to” do something is when someone orders or insists we do something. “Want to” is when we want to do it. Is the pressure coming from inside of us or outside of us? 

I can find myself doing things that I have to do, when in reality no one made me do them. Sending holiday greetings cards to all my clients was on my list of something I had to do. When I stopped to think, there was nothing that demanded me do it. Of course, it was a nice thing to do, and I wanted to do it, but was it essential? No!

I have seen doctors and healthcare professionals who attend committees because they think they have to, do an extra shift to make some more cash because they have to, or cancel their plans for vacation because something important comes along and they think they have to. 

Ask yourself whether what you are doing is being dictated by someone outside of you or whether the desire actually comes from you.

It’s challenging—that’s corporate speak for “it sucks”— to find time for ourselves. But if we don’t look at the reasons behind our lack of time and see what we can do about changing how we spend our time, we will just be like one of those annoying patients (that some of you may see) who never seem to listen to what you say to them.

I encourage you to take care of yourself so you can help take care of others. It’s a win-win for everyone, especially for you.

Click here to learn more about David’s 21 Day Meditation Program for Healthcare Professionals, Caring for Others; Caring for Yourself.

Image: Aletia/Depositphotos

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