Information for professionals – self-care
Without caring for oneself there can be no caring for others.14
We can prepare and maintain ourselves to work with people suffering trauma in a way to keep ourselves healthy. The key thing is that one needs to deal proactively with oneself and be aware of the risks.
Proactive care of self includes:
- eating a nourishing diet
- regular exercise
- getting enough sleep
- regular respite from work with joyful activities i.e. things that replenish you
- seeking medical and psychological support when needed
- integrating mindfulness and mindful practice into daily life
- cultivating our awareness. To be in the moment we can use awareness to respond rather than react to witnessed suffering.15
Papadatou suggests we function with a healthy degree of vulnerability when caring for a sick, dying or deceased child and their family; that we are 'vulnerable enough'. To neither be overwhelmed or appear invulnerable to others. To be 'vulnerable enough' means we can offer our strengths and our weaknesses in the caring relationship.16
Papadatou states that when we are vulnerable enough in our caring relationship with others we are 'open, permeable, available and authentic; that we relate with empathy and compassion and offer secure attachment in our relationships'. At the same time, in our relationship with ourselves, we are open to self-awareness, confront our own mortality, accept our strengths and weaknesses, and accept being 'good enough' in our caring role.17
14 Liben, S & Papadatou, D. 2011, Self-Care: The foundation of care giving,
in Textbook of Interdisciplinary Paediatric Palliative Care, p.168.
15 Liben, S & Papadatou, D. 2011, Self-Care: The foundation of care giving,
in Textbook of Interdisciplinary Paediatric Palliative Care, p.174.
16 Papadatou, D. 2012, Healthcare providers responses to the death of a child,
in Oxford Textbook of Palliative Care for Children, second edition, p. 412.
17 Papadatou, D., On being vulnerable enough: A path to self understanding,
presentation at the 19th International Congress on Palliative Care, Montreal, 2012.