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Treat Yourself Like You Would Treat Others

We all know the saying of treat others like you would want yourself to be treated, but how about treating yourself as well as you treat others?

I know that many people are guilty of taking better care of others than they would take of themselves. This may be sacrificing time for their family, skimping on themselves so they could afford things for others, shorting sleep so you can be somewhere for someone else, or being more committed to helping someone else then they would be for themselves.

When someone asks you to do something, you are more likely to do it. We all want to be fulfillers of reasonable requests, and for those that are important to us, we wouldn't think twice about giving up something of ourselves to do what's best for someone else. We would rather do things that make others happy instead of what is actually in our own best interest.

This is human nature for many, and it is particularly prominent in healthcare. Most healthcare workers are natural givers. Most healthcare workers spend more time and energy solving a problem for a patient than they do taking care of themselves.

This leads to multiple faults, and while the giver may have some satisfaction with being dependable, overtime this leads to neglecting their own health and happiness, and that leads to burnout.

Burnout is a serious issue in healthcare. Doctors, nurses, therapists, and counselors all have high rates of burnout. One study reports physician burnout alone costs healthcare $4.6 billion a year. You can read that study here.

Burnout is exhaustion from prolonged and excessive stress. This can be emotional, physical, or mental, and this results in feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, drained, and unable to meet constant demands. This creates negative feelings about the job and results in reduced efficacy of work.

This post isn't about burnout though, but instead is about how we can combat burnout. Burnout is certainly not specific to healthcare, and any job and any person can experience this. Often it happens when the demands of the job outweigh the self support created outside of work. How then do we reduce this burden on healthcare and our society as a whole?

We can start with treating ourselves as well as we would treat others. Unfortunately, burnout can be somewhat self inflicted. Yes, we can have excessive stress put on us by our boss, our company, the system, or even the clients we work with, but we also magnify and compound that stress by not taking care of ourselves. Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to avoid this downward spiral.

When I think about taking care of myself as I would take care of others, I find myself needing to treat myself like I would treat the clients I work with. Throughout my career, I have spent more time solving problems for others than I have spent solving them for myself. This has led to poor movement patterns, pains, and limitations throughout my body. If I had adopted this practice sooner, I could have even avoided surgeries to myself that I frequently help others avoid.

I never took the time to sit down, evaluate myself, and create a plan like I would do for someone else. Instead I would spot treat problems, quick fix myself, and go back to poor habits that led to worsened conditions. It's always difficult to treat yourself, but I have developed new strategies that have been more effective even as I've aged.

My main strategy change was to look at myself like I would look at a client in my clinic. Instead of evaluating and making a plan for myself, I started to evaluate and make a plan for a 38 year old male with a history of right knee pain, left hip tightness, and right shoulder weakness. I would write down my surgical history, any other medical concerns (high blood pressure), and assess and record how I did with specific movements. I also started video recording myself during certain movements.

By using this approach, it was easier for me to look objectively at the subject, and not think about it being me. I was able to identify deficits I didn't realize I had, and then use my normal solutions to those problems. I was able to make a treatment plan that was specific to what I needed to fix, and not just to treat what was bothering me at the time.

I also was able to make recommendations for this client to scale down how much weight was lifted and instead work on technique. I was able to identify that sleep needs a higher priority, and that hydration also needed to be improved. I was able to objectively track changes overtime and see what was working and what didn't.

It came down to not just looking in the mirror, but actually stepping away from the mirror completely and looking from the outside in. It was easy for me to see this client on paper and piece together the shortcomings. It was easy to see how things correlated. Only when looking objectively from the outside was I able to identify what I actually needed to do.

This happens in humans all the time. We do more for others than we do for ourselves.

How often do you see the mechanic with a car that barely runs? How about the banker who stresses about money? The counselor who can't get their own life in order? Even the sports coach who doesn't appear to have an athletic bone in them?

If we use our skills to address what we know, we can better ourselves and show others the value of what we do. Instead of telling people what you do, show them. While it's important to treat others well, it's also important to care for ourselves just as much.

Figure out how you can treat yourself as well as you treat others, and you will find that you have more ability to solve your own problems than you realized. #snowbeastperformance

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