Self-care: recharge your batteries

Christopher Byrne, President of FHT, offers six top tips to help therapists preserve and boost their energy levels

As a therapist and training provider, I know all too well how juggling work/life responsibilities and dealing with clients who are unwell or emotionally draining can take their toll. Below are some suggestions to help you maintain and boost your energy levels throughout the day...

Be prepared

As therapists, we all know that ‘prevention is better than cure’, so start your day as you mean to go on. Before treating clients, use visualisation to protect your energy levels. I was taught a great exercise by one of my first therapy tutors: imagine you are putting on a new pair of overalls before your first client. The overalls will help to protect you from absorbing any negativity. When the day is done, you can then ‘take off’ your overalls and leave all that stress behind.

Thirsty work

Make sure you stay hydrated, as a surefire way to feel drained, stressed and physically fatigued at the end of the day is not consuming enough water. Make sure you have a bottle on hand throughout the day and know how much you are drinking. Most of us overestimate the amount of fluid we have actually taken on and if you typically only drink when you are thirsty, bear in mind this is your brains way of warning you that you are already dehydrated. I have a water bottle with 2-hour intervals marked on it, so that I know I have drunk enough throughout the day.

Pen to paper

Keep a journal. You can use this for reflective practice at the end of the day – writing down what went well and what didn’t go so well, so that these thoughts don’t stay running round in your mind, stopping you from relaxing and recharging your batteries. You can also write down all the tasks you need to carry out the following day - clients you need to speak to, follow-ups, suppliers you need to ring, and so on. Then leave this journal on your desk or in your bag for the following morning, so that you learn to ‘leave work at work’.

Tackle that task

We all have at least one task we don’t like doing! It might be filing things away or tidying the leaflets in your clinic. Always make sure you do this before you head home or close the treatment room door. This will help to prepare you for the following day and is another little niggle that you don’t need bouncing round your head all night.

Get some air

Whatever the weather, aim to get out of the treatment room or clinic for at least half an hour to an hour each day. Walk round in the fresh air and relax a little. Use this as time for you, not answering messages or looking at Facebook. If you have the flexibility and time, schedule in something specifically for you. This may be a fitness class, tai chi, yoga, or a treatment swap with a fellow therapist.

A to Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Aim to get a good night’s sleep. Turn off the TV, laptop, tablet and phone in your bedroom, as all of these things can steadily rob you of your ability to sleep soundly. Have a routine or process for preparing for bed, such as dim lights, soft music and essential oils. All of these will help you get to sleep and sleep soundly - your body will thank you for it the following day.