by Turpin Mott
CHIEF COMMUNITY OFFICER
WELLNESS & SELF-CARE · May 11th, 2021
In January, many of us set a new year’s resolution to improve our personal health – eat better, exercise regularly, sleep more. While the intent is noble, by the year’s end, only one in five of us will have kept our resolution. And as a member of the veterinary community, you may encounter an even greater obstacle to self-care – your own nature. Caregivers can care so well for others, they neglect themselves. You provide comfort, healing, and positivity for the animals and people you serve, surrender all your energy, but leave none for yourself. So how can we make our self-care goals stick?
One way to overcome distractions and improve self-care is by focusing on the three R’s: routine, recognition, and reminders. Here’s how:
1. Make goals ROUTINE.
Engrain self-care into your daily life. This isn’t a flippant objective or short-term commitment; it is what keeps us safe, stable, and sensible. Our family can only be properly cared for and nurtured when we are at our best in mind-body connection and mental clarity.
On average, it takes nine weeks to form a habit. For some, it’s much shorter and for others, longer. Regardless, if we start today, in a couple of months, we can be well on our way to a life of caring for others, as well as ourselves. Whatever your self-care goal might be, work to ensure it becomes part of your daily routine.
2. RECOGNIZE progress and setbacks.
There are two important things to consider when setting self-care goals: recognizing when we’re off-track and recognizing our progress. First, we must recognize when we’ve strayed away from our goal. We miss a day of exercise here and there, we sneak in snacks a little at a time, we dupe ourselves into thinking it was a full push-up vs. a partial one. Little by little, we eat away (pun intended) at our goal and weaken it until it is an unrecognizable dilution from the original. I suggest a weekly self-checkpoint with your goal in mind – stop, analyze, adapt, and continue.
Second, it is beneficial to recognize your progress. Set goals and reward yourself as you accomplish certain milestones – large or small. This provides incentives throughout your program to help keep you motivated.
3. REMIND yourself to care for yourself.
How will we remember to care for ourselves? This is usually overlooked because, as I said in my opening, life moves quickly. In the first few months, it is critical that we remind ourselves that we are forming a new habit. It can be as easy as posting a sticky note on the refrigerator s a reminder to skip the late-night snacking. Be sure to also stick with positive reminders. Focus on how good you’ll feel after the exercise instead of how difficult it may be to step outside to begin your jog. My dog certainly helps me get out for a walk – I just look at her lovable eyes and wagging tail!
When you care for yourself, I encourage you to deliver in all the areas of your whole person – Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual. Self-care that discludes anything less, does not deliver what you need. All four realms are connected and therefore all four must be embraced for us to receive the full benefit. Bottom line – prioritize you. Here’s to your health!
5 resources to help recognize the warning signs and support those experiencing distress.
Maintaining connections to the people we care about helps improve our personal wellness.
by Turpin Mott