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Avoiding the self-care bear traps

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Good self-care intentions can often crumble when it’s Monday morning again and you find yourself in the hustle and bustle of practice. So…

…be wary of people pleasing

Some of us have a strong desire to do things for others and look after them, or simply to be involved. Are you saying yes to things without even thinking? If so, buy yourself time to make a more considered decision: ‘Can I get back to you?’ is a really useful phrase. If saying no seems impossible for you, think about other words you might be more comfortable with: ‘I don’t have time today, but I could do tomorrow’; ‘I can if you can find someone to do x because I don’t have time to do both’; ‘Yes if…’; ‘No, but…’

…prioritise

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have a long list of tasks in front of you (and to think the easiest way to get them done will be to skip lunch). The urgent/important matrix can help here, enabling you to see what really does need doing straight away and what can wait. Make a note of roughly how much time you expect each task to take and diarise it.

…guard against procrastination

If something seems too big, difficult or intimidating to tackle, break it down into small steps. If, for example, you have to arrange a meeting that is going to involve a difficult conversation, work through on paper why you need to do it, what happens if you don’t, what you’ll say, what responses you might get and how you will handle them. Always make sure the first in your list of steps is an easy one. In this scenario, it might simply be planning the meeting date.

…know when you’re at your best and schedule accordingly

Some of us are morning people and some are at our best in the afternoon or evening. Do the things that you find difficult, challenging or require focus during your best time. Think about this when scheduling tasks.

…plan your food and drink

Skipping a meal or not drinking enough becomes far more difficult if you’ve planned everything out in advance. Carry water with you and consider a holster if you find it an inconvenience. If you find water boring, then try adding fruit or mint to liven it up a bit. Plan and prepare your food in advance, including snacks you enjoy which are nutritious and help to maintain energy levels. Try to avoid the sugar highs and crashes of cakes and sweets.

…schedule your breaks

Factor in your lunch break as you would a consultation or visit. If things change direction with emergencies, push it down the list, not off the list.

…take practical steps in any area in which you’re less confident

If you lack confidence in an area, or find something difficult – whether something clinical, or dealing with a particular situation – talk to someone who finds it easier. Then make a development plan, asking for feedback to help you recognise progress and build confidence or mastery.

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