In Session #4 of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists/ Support the Front series, Well-being for CRNAs and SRNAs, Claudia Garcia and Dr.Jessica Zinder chatted with moderator Rodrigo Garcia about ways to stay healthy, relieve stress, and manage our day to day needs to we can be more at peace within ourselves and more helpful to others. While this series was developed with healthcare workers in mind, anyone will find Claudia and Jessica's recommendations helpful and informative. this video is free to watch here.
Both Claudia and Jessica emphasized throughout the session that self-care must be a priority for all of us, now more than ever. They explained that this is especially true for caregivers - professional, personal, or both. Both agreed that self-cate may feel hard at first, especially when there's so much pressure to always be doing more. Claudia said, "Sometimes as healthcare providers, we think that's maybe selfish, that you're putting yourself first before you're taking care of patients. Or maybe if you're a mother, 'I should be taking care of my kid before I take care of myself.' But it's really the opposite." In reality, caring for oneself gives us the physical, emotional, and cognitive ability to give more of ourselves than others. As Jessica said, "I think if you can buy into that....in the long run, I'll be able to help others by helping myself, then that's going to help you to create a self-care plan - to always be assessing, 'How much of myself do. have to be able to give to others?'
But what does a self-care plan look like for a busy professional juggling family, work, and other responsibilities? Claudia and Jessica shared some of their tips for staying healthy and reducing stress.
Both Claudia and Jessica agreed that exercise of some sort is paramount, every day. Whether it’s getting in a full workout, going for a short walk, doing some gardening, dancing, or whatever activity brings you peace and joy. Movement keeps our bodies healthy and reduces stress. It can be hard to prioritize exercise when we have so much on our plates, though. Claudia learned that for her, scheduling exercise directly into her daily agenda helps her keep it in her routine. Jessica works exercise into her day by doing it with her children, whom she’s homeschooling
Of course, both also described the value of healthy eating, getting a good variety of produce every day, and providing your body with the nutrients and fuel it needs.
Both Claudia and Jessica also extolled the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Practicing mindfulness can involve meditation, but as Claudia describes, even spending five minutes away from the stress and bustle, taking time to just breathe, can help us calm our minds and be more resilient. Claudia recommends using a mindfulness app such as Calm to help us manage stress.
Jessica said, “I am a true believer that being kind to others, we’re being kind to ourselves.” By taking the time to appreciate the good in our lives and in others, we are better able to keep challenges in perspective.
Jessica also said that research demonstrates that people who are more spiritually engaged also tend to be healthier. She explained this doesn’t necessarily mean practicing a religion but includes any effort to look for meaning beyond the material world. “What makes this life meaningful to you?”
Seeking Help When Needed
Both Claudia and Jessica emphasized that seeking professional mental health support is nothing to be ashamed of, and it can help immensely. Jessica said, “There is a stigma that if you see a therapist, a psychologist, a social worker, a counselor, even a pastor or a minister—if you go and reach out for help, then you, in some way, are broken. And that is not true. You are more resilient when you know where you’re at, and you know what you need, and you reach out for that. That makes you stronger as a person.” Claudia agreed and shared how she and her family have all reached out to mental health counselors at times, and that has taught them all “when you’re in trouble, if you need help, you ask for help, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Other Stress-Reducing Suggestions:
o Maintaining Healthy Relationships
o Daily Affirmations
To enjoy the full discussion and hear more of Claudia’s and Jessica’s stories and suggestions, please enjoy the free video. Don’t forget to visit Support the Front on the AANA website to review past sessions and register for upcoming events!