Self-Care Helps Us Stay the Course - Hope 103.2

Self-Care Helps Us Stay the Course

Self-care is not about a recreational activity. It’s about good stewardship of the resources that we have, writes Valerie Ling.

By Valerie LingMonday 17 Apr 2023LifestyleReading Time: 3 minutes

I was asked thought-provoking questions at two great events which I spoke at recently. 

Here, I’d like to unpack one of them.

The students I addressed are preparing for a life of service in Christian ministry.

Most of them would have come from a different training pathway leading to professional and financial success.

For them, it is a pretty big deal to actually disrupt that pathway and train again for a life of service.

So, here is what they asked: “We’ve made the decision to really dedicate our lives to serving others, so is it actually okay to think about self-care and resilience, and pacing or pulling back if our health is compromised?”

I have been thinking about their question.

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I’d like to share two concepts.

Firstly, self-care is not about a recreational activity.

It’s really about good stewardship of the resources we have.

If I were a carpenter, I would take really good care of my tools.

You invest in good tools, so that you have the confidence that those tools will deliver the service that people have engaged you to do.

When you are in a helping or caring profession, the tools are your voice, your body, your health, your eyesight, your ears and, of course, the knowledge you bring.

Much like a workman who looks after his tools, we need to look after our bodies and minds.

We need to steward these resources we use when we serve.

“Self-care is not about a recreational activity.”

The second concept is about preventable and non-preventable attrition.

Both of these types of attrition will cause us to exit or stop what we do.

However, in the latter (non-preventable), it is because of things simply out of our control.

If in the course of providing a service, you have non-preventable experiences such as sickness, a pandemic or a change of circumstances, there’s very little that sleep, exercise or other resilience strategies can do to prevent an exit.

We Have a Choice to Put Measures in Place

In preventable attrition, we can actually put some things into place which prevent or slow down the reasons for exiting our work.

These can include good hygiene, looking a little bit deeper into what we need, and thinking about how relationships are going,

I suppose that I put burnout in this category. Because it is an occupational health hazard, there are some things which we actually can be doing.

We can learn to manage stress, learn to cope and understand the expectations we place on ourselves which are unrealistic.

By being aware of these things and working on them, we can be good stewards of the resources we have when we’re serving others.

We can endure longer, and hopefully, serve more.

Article supplied with thanks to Valerie Ling.

About the Author: Valerie Ling is a clinical psychologist and consultant with The Centre for Effective Living (a psychology and mental health practice) and The Centre for Effective Serving (a workplace wellbeing consultancy).

Feature image: Photo by Rinke Dohmen on Unsplash