On Taking Care of Ourselves

This week I started listening to the radio in the car again. I’m surprised to say reluctantly, but it is true.

In any case, a program I’ve never even heard of before was on CPR this morning called “Human Kind.” The story was “Resilient Nurses.” You can read about it/listen to the podcasts here.

Basically, the story was exploring ways to help nurses be more resilient and specifically how intentional and supported self-care can contribute to that goal. Various nurses in the program talked about strategies like exercise, rituals, mediation, healing touch, aromatherapy, healthy eating, deep breathing, and prayer. It was fascinating. I’m not a nurse. But I do care for a little person everyday. And so while my situation is not the same as these men and women, I did appreciate the reminder that to care for other people, we must also care for ourselves.

Now that Lent is over, I can officially say that my Lenten experiment was a wonderful success. Although it was often hard to spend so much time with my own thoughts in silence, I found that not listening to the radio in the car allowed me to really prayerfully and intentionally prepare myself for what I was about to be doing. During my long drives to school, I also had the time to let my thoughts wander to friends and the days ahead of them. During short drives to the grocery store or meetings, I was able to really focus on the person I was about to meet or the task i was about to perform. I was able to process lingering thoughts that might interfere with my being present. I was able to hear Remy sing when he was in the backseat.

why yes, those are dogs on his pants

sometimes we help each other relax

I found that these minutes of quiet intention-setting helped me to be more present once I arrived. One of the segments in the Resilient Nurses program talked about dealing with stress. The nurse being interviewed suggested that stress was best dealt with in the very moment that it is created in. She explained that this required being present in each moment and aware of your own reactions to the situations in which you are working. When you begin to recognize your own triggers and responses, you can take a moment to deep breathe and release the stress that is beginning to build.

This made so much sense to me. I’m a law student and a parent. I could be stressed out all the time. And sometimes, of course, I get overwhelmed. But I have recognized in my own practice the importance of being present, and allowing things to happen in their own moments, and to leave things that need to be left. And taking time to be quiet has definitely helped me do that. I’m sure that I will go back to listening to things in the car sometimes. But i hope to at least intermittently continue my Lenten practice of prolonged quiet.

How do you take care of yourself so you can care for those who need you?

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