As a practicing physician, I work with many talented healthcare professionals and support staff. Many of these people would put their lives on the line on any given day to save someone else’s….even if it means sacrificing their family’s needs, their kid’s baseball game or music recital. I’ve seen this happen more often than I would like to admit.
What I have discovered in my years as a wellness advocate is that the people that spend their waking hours and more often, their lifetimes caring for others, are usually the ones that spend the least amount of time doing self-care. That my dear friends, is the astounding fact.
It’s funny, I have to remind them that in fact, you cannot pour from an empty cup. That in order to care for others…effectively, you must first care for yourself. To underscore this point, if you have flown before, you might even recall that during the pre-flight announcements, the flight attendants say:
“Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.”
You would presume that since they have this amazing skill of taking care of other people, it would make sense that they would recognize when they need care, and how to care for themselves, right? Sadly, that answer is no, actually. It turns out that this anomaly is not unique to just healthcare providers alone, but across many disciplines where people “take care” of other people. They may be first responders, teachers, military personnel…the list goes on and on.