4 Questions for Self-Inquiry

Take Care of Yourself, and You’ll Have More to Give

By Kate Mackinnon
[Savvy Self-Care]

I’m a physical therapist (PT) with 27 years of experience specializing in working with children with disabilities. Bodyworkers often ask me how I can see so many people in a day, back to back, without getting exhausted. I hear that same question from concerned clients when they are letting go of emotional pieces during a session. My simple, and somewhat flippant, answer is: “I don’t need to be involved in what somebody is working through.” Concentrating energy on my self-care makes it possible for me to have a full caseload and not get burned out. You can do it, too.
Having worked with my hands and my heart for all these years as a PT and craniosacral therapist, I found it was my mistakes and missteps that I have learned from the most. Following are some questions I would like you to ask yourself. You will come up with your own unique answers; what’s worked for me may not be best for you. It’s important that you delve into your own self-inquiry with these questions, so you can customize your self-care.
How Do You Take Care of Your Physical Self?
Body Mechanics
Body mechanics is something we’re taught in our training; however, once we start working, we can slip into unhealthy habits. Recently, in my yoga practice, I noticed how much I spill forward by anteriorly tilting my pelvis. I noticed I do exactly the same thing when sitting on my stool. It felt so much better—both physically and energetically—once I became aware of this and could regularly correct myself throughout the day. Take a moment to be aware of how you align yourself when you are in your working groove.
Food is another important way in which we can physically take care of ourselves. Learn how you function best—is it with regular snacks or substantial meals? How much protein and fat do you need to include?
How you schedule your day dictates your eating times, bathroom breaks, your ability to answer inquiries, etc. At what times of day do you work best? What length of breaks do you need? Setting your appointments with this kind of thoughtfulness will directly influence your physical well-being and help you avoid getting overwhelmed.
Movement and exercise have their roles here as well. Yoga and swimming help me maintain my physical health and connect me to the present moment through my body.
How Do You Take Care of Your Emotional Self?
We bodyworkers tend to be very good at advising and taking care of our clients, but don’t always walk our talk when it comes to our own emotional well-being. I have heard myself talking to clients about what they can do to foster emotional equilibrium, and found myself thinking, “Yes, and I had better do that, too!”
Over the years, I’ve seen that it’s crucial for me to receive bodywork of my own, not only for my personal health, but also for the health of my practice. For nearly a decade, I belonged to a group of craniosacral therapists who met frequently to work on each other and provide peer support. This is vital when you are a solo practitioner. I also schedule individual craniosacral sessions and many other forms of bodywork for myself. A side benefit has been getting to know my local colleagues and their skills, and being confident in referring to them.
My meditation practice also helps me stay present and level in my thoughts and emotions.
How Do You Take Care of Your Energetic Self?
How you manage your physical and emotional self clearly influences your energetic self, and vice versa. What I’m asking you to take a look at here is what your default energetic tendency is when working. For the vast majority of us, it will be to send energy from ourselves to our clients. It’s important to be aware if you are sourcing energy from within yourself, because it will deplete you.
We tend to go to our default tendency when we are tired or working with a challenging client. But it’s at these times when we should be even more vigilant, check in, and ask ourselves, “What am I doing with my energy right now? Am I grounded and present?” For myself, I continue to actively work and learn about different ways to stay grounded, manage my energy, and bring my whole self into the present moment.
How Do You Take Care of Your Spiritual Self?
Take a look at spirituality from a broad perspective. Are there images, thoughts, sayings, or mantras you use? Having a work space that supports me spiritually is important. I have objects in my office that have meaning only to me and help create a sacred space. You may have rituals that support you. Perhaps music is important to you. Whatever it is, be sure to create a space that feels nurturing, supportive, and sacred to you.
Committing to You
I hope you now have a clearer sense of what steps you can take to improve how you feel at the end of your workday. Perhaps you now have a better understanding of my statement: “I don’t need to be involved in what somebody is working through.” It’s my way of expressing that I’m committed to supporting my client, but I don’t need to be burdened by their process. I do, however, feel responsible for how I am in my physical, emotional, and spiritual self when I show up to work.

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