This post is dedicated to all of the professional caregivers – on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. These are the healthcare professionals who don’t have the choice to stay home and keep a safe distance from others. Their work involves putting their own needs (and concerns for their family) aside while tending at the bedside. Providing care for the sick even while they experience the same anxiety as everyone else about where this pandemic will take us. They are charged with remaining calm and steadfast in the face of the unknown while preparing for the health care system’s worst case scenario.
So I felt quite humbled this week when my co-teacher and I sat in the lotus position in front of a room full of nurses taking our Mindful Self-Compassion training program. We were saying good bye and wishing them a self-compassionate week knowing quite well what they might be facing in the next seven days.
“Do you have any suggestions for us?” one of the nurses asked.
My co-teacher and I suggested a couple on the spot practices that our students have learned over the last few weeks – but we knew that there would be a struggle for them to remember to practice when the stress level started to escalate at work. So I suggested this little practice; PPE for the heart.
PPE for the heart is a prompt to become self-compassionate. The suggestion is that every time you don your personal protective equipment (PPE) you ask yourself – “What am I doing to care for my heart? Is there something I need, in this moment?” Putting on your PPE becomes a little prompt to engage in self-compassion in the midst of the workday.
Suggestions for on the spot practice could include noticing the breath. Noticing if you are breathing quickly, taking shallow breaths from the chest? Can you slow down by engaging in three deep breaths? Are you firmly connected to the earth? Can you feel your feet? Can you take one moment to feel your feet firmly on the ground before rushing off to complete the next task?
What’s going on in your body? Can you do a quick scan and take note of what you are feeling? As you scan your body do you notice spots where you are feeling discomfort? If you notice places of stress and tension can you then ask yourself “What does my body need?”
Maybe what you need is to use the toilet; have a glass of water, stretch your back a little, rub your neck or just acknowledge to yourself that what you are experiencing is really tough.
Finally, just offering yourself a brief little moment of kindness and self-compassion because it is so tough to do this work; now more than ever.
Thank you for the care you provide to us every day. May you all be kind to yourselves this week…..and remember in for me and out for you; one for me and one for you...
In kindness, Patricia