Welcome back to another academic year at UBC.
In our efforts to be our best professional selves to the populations we serve, we often overlook an important element: ourselves. It’s tempting to prioritize everything and everyone above ourselves, particularly during busy times of the year like September. The general sense of overwhelm can lead to increased stress, and if we’re unable to manage this stress, we tend to fall into negative behaviours that can result in ill health (mental, physical and emotional).
So what’s the solution? Instead of a one-off activity (that will ultimately find its way to the bottom of our to-do list), utilize self-care as an ongoing stress management tool. It’s best implemented through activities and practices that are small, manageable and either low-cost or no-cost; you’ll reduce as many barriers as possible and increase success.
There are effective ways to incorporate self-care in both personal and professional settings to enhance your overall resilience and reduce stress. If you are finding it difficult to come up with self-care strategies of your own, use some of our ideas below.
Strategies to inspire self-care in your professional setting: [1,2]
- Set clear expectations of self and others.
- Be open to help offered by others.
- Share your feelings (with someone or with yourself).
- Find ways to infuse humour into your day. Can you see the lighter side of situations or interactions?
- Make a fulfillment list: write down the aspects of your job that you find the most rewarding, fulfilling and nurturing. Keep it handy.
- Try the ‘3 Things a Day” rule. Start your day by listing three, non-negotiable tasks that you want to accomplish and schedule your day in order to prioritize them. It gets things done while producing a sense of accomplishment.
Strategies to incorporate personal self-care: [1,2]
- Make gratitude Post-it Notes.
- Start eating breakfast or add protein to your breakfast.
- Spice up your water. Try flavoured or fizzy water to encourage hydration.
- Stand, stretch or change the position that you are in at the top of every hour.
- Create a sleep routine to encourage quality sleep.
- Take a 5-minute digital detox (no devices!)
This month, I invite you to try implementing just one new self-care strategy using the examples above. I hope that it will help to keep your own wellbeing in mind while you’re working and serving our broader UBC communities.
Happy school year!
All my best,
 The Resilient Practitioner: Burnout and Compassion Fatigue Prevention and Self-Care Strategies for Helping Professionals, Skovholt and Trotter Mathison, 2011.
 Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization, Pearlman & Staff, 1996.
Photo Credit: UBC Communications & Marketing