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Do you want to be:

  • Aware
  • Ready
  • Committed

To setting and sticking to professional self-care goals for 2020???  Then read on…

Why not take a leaf from the clinical practice book and try using

  • Circles of Control
  • Stages of Change
  • SMART goal setting

to establish and stick to a professional self-care plan!

Have you ever…

  • Read a blog, article or talked to colleagues, and gone ‘yeah I should do that’, or maybe start a new habit or try it but don’t stick with it?
  • Feel like sometimes you maintain good self-care or that elusive work life balance, but not always?
  • Don’t really know what professional resilience and self-care is, or whether you are doing it right?
  • Used to do it well, but then life happens or changes and then you can’t do things how you used to, or fit in what you used to?
  • Know ‘what’ you ‘should’ be doing but find it hard to know ‘how’ to fit it in?


Why is it essential?

Many AHPs will remain registered and practice for over 3 decades, and often have competing important life roles and demands over that time, including:

  • Being a care giver or parent
  • Supporting aging parents, a partner or family member with a chronic health condition
  • Managing their own mental health or chronic condition
  • Choosing to travel or save for a home
  • Taking on a research role or dedicate large amounts of time to sporting, music or artistic achievements


So, what is self-care and why is it so important?

What is self-care?

  • Self-care for professionals is about actively looking after your own mental health and wellbeing so that you can more effectively support the people you work with. The concept of self-care is similar to the safety procedures on an aircraft:

“In the unlikely event of an emergency, fit your own oxygen mask first, before attending to children or dependants”

Even the WHO has realised that Burnout is a real occupational phenomenon, see more on this at:


Burnout is defined in the ICD-11 as follows:

“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;

  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and

  • reduced professional efficacy.


So, need to know what your current self-care menu looks like?

Need to change it, add in new habits? Not sure where to start?


OK so now you know what the current status is, how do you go about adding/changing habits? 

Spend some time looking at what you can ….

  • Control
  • Influence
  • Be concerned about

to help set goals to change your current habits..


Are you concerned about the funding program’s audit requirements? Yes.

Can you control it? No.

Can you influence the outcome of a team meeting agenda item? Maybe.

Can you control whether you take your lunch break or join the gym? Yes!


So, once you have worked out the difference between things you are concerned about, things you want to influence and what you can actually control, let’s see if you are ready to make a change…


Set some time aside to think about

How ready you are

  • Are you just thinking about maybe you could at some stage, do something different to add to your self-care menu?
  • Are you ready to act, just need to do it?
  • Have you started but have had a lapse, got sick or life just got busy?


Once you know if you are:

  • Just contemplating a change
  • Ready to make a change
  • Have started but need a boost


Then you can set some goals that reflect your readiness to change, and keep you on track!


We use SMART goals with our clients, why not with ourselves, or in supervision, with our partner/peers/team?

It really does help to know what you are going to do by when with a high degree of confidence at getting there soon, and knowing that you made it!


Take the plan you have made from:

  • Reflecting on current self-care
  • Knowing what you can control
  • Checking in if you are ready

Then actually write it down, tell it out loud to someone and be held to account to make it happen!


Chose where you set your goals, who you tell, who you ask for support:

Is it in supervision, mentoring, peer group, with your partner, your friend or your boss?


OK, you’ve given all that a go, still not feeling great, actually feeling a bit concerned….

Is it time to:

  • Take leave?
  • Get some professional support?
  • Resign?
  • Consider seeing your GP or a psychologist
  • Know what you can access through your employer, online, or what is available in your community.


Professional self-care – keep it on top of the to-do list!


Julie Carlile Occupational Therapist

Content author




Blog written by JULIE CARLILE

Occupational Therapist, Positive Action OT

Connect with Julie here





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