This week we would like to spend a little bit of time talking about self care. This has been a wild month and last week gave us a glimpse into what the new normal might look like for the foreseeable future. As we find ourselves with kids at home who should be at school, a stressful workplace, alarming news around every corner and restrictions around the ways we socialize a few posts about taking care of ourselves felt right.
Today we are addressing those of you who work in the treatment or therapeutic world, in helping professions. As we have wrestled with decisions this week one of the questions we keep coming back to is simply, are we doing what is best for those in treatment?
One of the lenses we try to view this question through is how safe our clients/patients feel. As Dr. Barnes often reminds us, without a save environment people can’t do the work they need to do in treatment.
With this in mind it is important to ask how WE are doing. If we, the staff, are bringing our stress and worries into work with us those we are treating will absolutely feel and react to that stress. Remember, they are in an unfamiliar place with new people trying to do one of the most difficult things they will ever do, get sober. In order to give them the most we can in our short time with them it is crucial that we fully show up for them.
This is a tall order and doesn’t happen on its own, we need to be in as healthy a place as possible and that requires work.
I’ve been talking to friends in this field all week to learn what they are doing to help their staff stay grounded and while I haven’t heard a silver bullet I have heard lots of good ideas. In addition to discussing this subject frequently and openly we have done a few things to help encourage our staff to stay mentally and spiritually healthy in this time of increased stress.
All of us find peace in different ways so what follows isn’t comprehensive, just a few suggestions to help you stay healthy in order to promote the healing of those we serve.
While going to the gym likely isn’t an option, exercise doesn’t have to be forgotten. No matter how small a space you are in there are ways to get your body moving that will help. From simple body weight exercises (pushups, sit-ups, planks, etc.) to online yoga and fitness classes you can still be active inside! You can also walk/run/bike outside, just keep some space from others.
Prayer and Meditation
Our lives are so busy in normal times that this practice is often one of the first to be forgotten, but now you likely have some free time! People often balk at taking this time because they think it has to be some huge commitment, they don’t want to spend 60 minutes listening to spa music and sitting still. If that’s you try not making it so hard, especially at first. Start with a minute or two of sitting quietly and see where it goes from there.
Just because we aren’t getting together to watch a game doesn’t mean we can’t still connect. I have had some awesome conversations with friends and family this past week on the phone and via FaceTime. All of those calls that we don’t get to because we’re running around are things that we can find time for. They are also often safe places for us to talk through how we are feeling and doing and to get advice.
Almost all of the therapists I know are still offering virtual or telephone sessions. If this is a part of your life let me encourage you to keep it so. If it isn’t, maybe now is a good time to start!
For those of you looking for ideas about how to help your staff, I'll share a few things that we’re doing. I also hope that you take a minute to share what you’re doing here, we could use more ideas!
We have opened up our fitness facilities for staff outside of normal programming hours so they can still access the gym.
We have figured out a way to hire a few more support staff to make it easier for people to take off or call in if they aren’t feeling well.
We created a specific place to post updates about changes we are making and for everyone to ask questions and offer feedback.
Our amazing admissions director, Becca Zimble, is doing a yoga class just for staff and has made sure that they all feel welcome to participate in the classes on campus.
We brought in an outside therapist to hold group sessions online, and individual if requested, with our staff to help them process everything that is going on out there in a safe place.
This is way too long for a social media post so I’ll close out with this; I think it’s our responsibility to be as healthy and present as we possibly can for our clients/patients and encourage you to do what it takes to get and stay that way.
From a safe distance,
Ben Cort CEO