“Is It Okay for Health Care Professionals to Take Time Out to Rest?”

One of the hardest challenges for some dedicated health care professionals is being able to take some time to just “be”.  Often the stress of caring for others who are ill, or leading others who do, makes it difficult to even think about taking time out to rest and relax.

Time for self-care and reflection often is put on a back burner or is just relegated to the “not important” task.  Eventually what seems to matter most or has even become the all-consuming aspect of a professional life can transform into a source of resentment, an energy drain, or even one cause for a myriad of our own chronic illnesses.

Young woman relaxing on the beach

If you want to keep your energy high, be able to appreciate the importance of what you are doing to help others, while enjoying your life more in general, here are some suggestions for brief relaxation breaks:

Five Minute Vacation Suggestions:

For most of the following techniques, sit comfortably with your hands in your lap and both feet on the floor.  Closing your eyes enhances the relaxation response if this is comfortable for you.

  1. Slowly breath in through your nose, making sure your “tummy” rises.  Hold the breath for a second or two, then slowly exhale through your nose.  Repeat several times.  If you start to feel light-headed, return to regular breathing and resume at a slower pace.
  2. Learn a practice a few Yoga or other slow moving stretches, that can both quiet the mind and increase flexibility. (This can help reverse the problem most professional women have from sitting for long periods of time.)
  3. Repeat a word that symbolizes a peaceful state for you, such as “peace” “calm” slowly to yourself.
  4. With your eyes open, focus on a picture of a flower or other simple nature scene, or a color swatch of blue or green which are peaceful colors.  When your eyes get tired, close them and just imagine the symbol.
  5. Make a gentle fist with either one or both hands and hold for at least five seconds.  Then release, relax for at least thirty seconds and repeat. You can add other muscle groups if you wish such as arms and shoulders or feet and legs.   One note of caution:  If you have a chronic pain issue, please check with your health care professional before trying this technique.

Allowing yourself to take a little time to rest your brain and body every day can help increase and sustain your energy. In turn you can actually become a more enthusiastic healer!

Funny how taking a little time off from work can actually help increase your ability to be more caring of others!

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