It’s no secret that the theme of this blog keeps stretching beyond what’s conventionally painted as “physiotherapy” or even ‘health-care” – which is good (in my opinion). It’s my profession, and my industry, but I am also running a business, having life experiences and all these parts make up the bigger whole so they almost can’t be pulled apart and oversimplified – also if WE don’t speak about these issues, who will? In this post we’re talking about “Self Care” – it has been an trending phrase recently, aimed at having us look after ourselves a bit better, having more balance in our life, managing our stress and mental space, despite all the chaos of everyday life. What does it all entail though, how do you start to look after yourself better? For me, it’s a lot more than not wearing makeup on Thursdays and being a social justice warrior on World Mental Health Day. Here’s what qualifies me to unpack this topic…
In 2014, I moved to a new province to work in a sports physio setting, this involved being the junior in a professional sports team while simultaneously working in an outpatient clinic. Working 6 days/week, sometimes 7 – travelling, starting work at 7.30am, getting home from a midweek match after 11.00pm, this went on for the better part of 2 years, roughly 50-60+ hours in a week, for the better part of 48+ months. Work life balance, completely out of sync. I sunk into a massive slump, less exercise, poor eating, less time with friends, less enjoyment – all led to essentially a massive burnout episode, with some mental health issues sprinkled on top. Depression and Anxiety paired with no concept of self care at all. This story might resonate with lots of people and it’s something that we don’t feel comfortable sharing but we all go through at some point. I got an email from an old friend recently who highlighted a similar problem where we slowly move away from all the good things because “there’s no time”, “we’re too busy”, “work is hectic”, “I’m tired”, “it’s not a priority” and before you know it, welcome to SLUMP CITY.
Adversity or problems that arise can either move us in two ways – either we don’t realize its potential to derail us and we slip further into the proverbial hole, or we use it as a catalyst to change. In my case, it was a new situation, but the tipping point was my mental health being compromised – I never understood how these imaginary things in peoples minds could make them feel or act differently, but WOW – a truly scary insight into what the brain is capable of doing in its control of our thoughts, experiences, hormones, pain basically how it can tint the lens through which we see the world. Personally this experience was a massive catalyst for a life change on multiple fronts, these are not all relating to self care per say, but I do feel that these are some values and characteristics which can help to dig yourself out of the hole, or allow you to leave SLUMP CITY for good! Here’s some of the lessons I’ve learnt that I’ve made part of my life going forward as part of a “self care” strategy or rather a strategy to “Treat Yo Self”:
Take responsibility, assume control and don’t make excuses. It’s so easy to believe the stories we tell ourselves, that life is conspiring against us to make things hard and that your excuses are justified – you have to look at what you can control in the situation, which is YOURSELF. There’s a saying that I quite enjoy: “Nothing is either good or bad, it’s our perspective that makes it either way” – which is very true. The minute you take responsibility, recognize that you need to act, start to make changes, you’ll gain forward momentum and you’ll see that things will start to “feel better”. This is probably the hardest thing in the world to do, because our ego’s don’t like to admit fault in any way, but if you can overcome this – you WILL see some change.
Kaizen. A Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement. Striving for growth. Life is always changing, my profession of healthcare is a science that keeps gaining new insight daily – even with 2 years of post grad work under the belt, it’s made me more mindful of what I NEED to know more of and how I can keep improving and learning. This can be applied to every facet of life, but it’s a mentality that needs to be cultivated. When you think you’ve arrived, that’s when your journey will end. A culture of constant growth and improvement needs to be developed.
Solve your own problems. It’s literally in the name “self care”. Taking care of your self. Taking action and steps to improve parts of your health or well being that are important to you. Our instant gratification lives solves so many problems at the click of a button or pop of a pill, so much so that we would rather pay people to solve problems for us. In my industry, its almost seems counter intuitive to give people the tools to fix themselves, but that’s what all my most successful cases have involved. It’s linked to taking responsibility and assuming control – there is nothing wrong with getting advice along the way but no one can solve your problems for you. Whether its your chronically painful shoulder, or your lack of enjoyment at work – there’s no magic pill to fix this (although I’m sure you won’t have to look hard for people selling magic pills).
Focus on your own journey and don’t make comparisons. I recently read Mark Manson’s: The Subtle art of not giving a F*** – and he aptly points out that comparisons are using random value systems of other people to evaluate your own progress. This will literally break your spirit and is a separate discussion on its own, but in a nutshell the only person you need to be better than, is the person you were yesterday. Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for unhappiness. I used to compare myself to my peers and people I saw on social media and it breeds resentment: “how did they get there, they don’t deserve it” – meanwhile there are a million reasons why they’re in that situation (all unique to that person) – If we can paradigm shift to seeing the success or progress of others as inspiring for our own personal development, instead of their success highlighting our lack of progress, the world would be a completely different place. I’ll cheer for anyone taking responsibility and trying to make positive changes to their life or health, because at the end of the day we’re all on our own personal journey and should be supporting each other while we all figure out how to ‘Treat ourselves’.
If you’ve made it this far – kudos to you! I really appreciate the support, and appreciate any personal stories or insight – get hold of me @Enhanced_Physio, or firstname.lastname@example.org –
Take care and be kind to one another,
***” Treat yo self = Pun intended, if you’re a Parks and Recreation, or Aziz Ansari fan, or know my sense of humor – power to you, otherwise do yourself a favor and watch this clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsABTmT1_M0“