Self Care is an ethical issue

As a massage therapist, I often work with clients who are in dire situations. My work with them becomes part of their self-care program, either in grappling with their own illness or as caregivers. Yet when faced with my own predicaments, I often forget about the tools I know.
I recently responded to a question about self-care tactics that prompted me to take a fresh look at this important topic.  I conjured some self-help tools that work for me in my life.  This list is a summary reminder of all that I can do for myself.
Everyone is different, but some ideas that can work for me (and some of my clients):
• Eat nourishing foods
• Get sleep: even if I have to take an occasional benedryl or melatonin, though acupuncture can work well to bring me balance as well)
• Eliminate or seriously limit my alcohol consumption: especially in dire circumstances, it only makes things worse later
• Exercise: especially walking helps remind my whole self that I am moving through this day, and for better for worse it too will pass
• Walk with my dog:  he is always in the present moment and glad for it
• Talk with friends/ therapist/ spiritual leader: I ask my church group to pray for my loved one, and think it helps to share the load), spend time with people and things that I love
• GET MASSAGE: I need nurturing touch, as do my clients, and believe there is no substitute
• Pray/meditate
• Write/journal
• Sing:  I have playlists for different moods and needs
• Laugh
• Self-gifting: Every day I try to give myself a gift, even if it is a better quality cup of coffee
•  Breath:  finally and firstly, remember to breath
Just like massage therapy, self care is not just a series of techniques.  I have come to realize that self-care is not just a tactic, a set of actions to make me more productive or increase my longevity.  It is an ethical and spiritual issue. It starts with an awareness and an orientation.  I really cannot take care of anyone else if I don’t take care of myself.  For me, how I travel these streams calls up a powerful dynamic on how I define myself and how I see my contributions in this lifetime.
Self care is about boundaries. As I grown, I become more aware that boundaries are not just a protective shield, but a statement of my own identity.  As a professional, I believe in exploring and crafting boundaries so I can do the best I can do. Good boundaries are good for me, but also fair to my relationships, and allow me to honor my work and my life.  This has to be true in personal relationships as well working ones, especially the really hard relationships in hard times.
Like regular maintenance, I take an occassional look at my boundaries. I love to re- read Ruiz’ The Four Agreements (1997)/ I find it to be a wonderful guide to my underlying foundation for the techniques, tactics, strategies I use as a care-giver and as a person.
I welcome ideas that my readers can share on this important question.  Please share your own methods and resources, as well as your methodology and philosophy.

1 Comment

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One response to “Self Care is an ethical issue

  1. Thank you for these reminders – and I like the idea that it’s an ethical issue. It makes one think more deeply about the impacts of self-care and lack of self-care on others with whom we come into contact.

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