Here’s a newsflash: It’s only mid-February. And if you’re like many of the health professionals I regularly talk to, currently you’re feeling something akin to jet-lag but rather than just your circadian rhythm being out of sync, it’s bigger than that, it’s your whole calendar rhythm. Your resilience tank is already too close to reserve. Just last week I heard from another Sydney practitioner, ‘that 1st week back seeing patients almost broke me’. For anyone providing healthcare in Australia or in other parts of the world where the ‘holiday season’ delivered almost everything but a holiday: fires, floods, trauma, tragedy, please understand that your early year fatigue is expected and proportionate. Not only are you dealing with your own circumstances – many of you work in fire & flood affected areas, so not only were you robbed of an opportunity for off-loading your year’s burden, you, in fact, faced a ‘pile on’ – and your waiting rooms are also full from the fallout.
I’m going to make a big call:
No health professional routinely receives enough psychological support given the care we provide and the supportive roles we fill.
While some of us working outside of mainstream medicine, might have a verdant ‘grass is greener’ picture, about the structure and support offered ‘on the other side’, in my conversations with doctors, nurses, midwives etc, I’ve not found that to be true. My one exception here are psychologists & social workers but I am not sure adequate supervision and support is a universal experience there either. My point is this: We need to ensure we get the support we need. We need to be proactive about organising professional supervision and work-related counselling ourselves. Never has self-care been more crucial.
And you need to know that your February Fatigue is proportionate, in fact healthy, and that you should not be hiding that from anyone, your colleagues, your patients (sharing only in a considered and constructive way), and least of all yourself.
I heard back from that Sydney practitioner about a week after our conversation and she said,
I’ve been thinking a lot about supporting myself through practice since our talk.. so thanks for the kick up the butt to do more self care on this. the holding space for clients becomes so murky sometimes…The problems we face as a profession to be holistic practitioners with our traditions and strong philosophy and having that align not only with modern medicine ethos, but entrepreneurship as well is so complicated. It puts way too much stress on usI’ve been having good conversations with praccie friends in the last week about this.. finding ways to practice how naturopaths do the best work, and not lose the ability to do so through burnout or lack of time… it’s complex…
Please make ensuring you are truly supported, a priority. Imagine yourself on the other side of the desk from you and all the empathy and good advice you would be offering. Listen to it. Any cost associated with formal support is likely to be tax deductible as well but check with your accountant. Choosing to be a health professional, means you are an extraordinary individual with an incredible capacity for high levels of care. Don’t forget the old one about the putting your own oxygen mask on first and risk becoming the (wo)man down.