Your lack of self-care harms others, so what are you going to do about it?


Advent and the end of the year provide opportunities for some self-reflection in preparation for the start of the coming year. So…how are you doing? Are you taking care of yourself? This is especially important if you are a service provider such as a counselor or caregiver. 

Last October, a meta analysis of healthcare providers’ self-care (or lack thereof) and its relationship to quality of service indicates a clear negative relationship: lack of self-care leads to great likelihood of harm to patients. 

Eighty-two studies including 210,669 healthcare providers were included. Statistically significant negative relationships emerged between burnout and quality (r = −0.26, 95 % CI [−0.29, −0.23]) and safety (r = −0.23, 95 % CI [−0.28, −0.17]). In both cases, the negative relationship implied that greater burnout among healthcare providers was associated with poorer-quality healthcare and reduced safety for patients

What is even more telling is that patients can tell and do perceive when we are burned out. You think your bitterness, your lack of sleep, your losing your first love of helping isn’t showing? It is. 

Now, there are many reasons why we don’t steward ourselves (hearts, bodies, and minds) well. Sometimes we are in systems that actively discourage taking care of the self. In Christian settings, focusing on the self doesn’t seem to comport with “being poured out like a drink offering.” Others of us never learned how. Still others struggle with guilt. How can I take care of me if others have less help than I do? Yet others don’t take time to pour back in to self because it isn’t comfortable. Serving others is easier and provides more immediate rewards.  

What is your reason? 

If you were going to do something on a consistent basis to recognize your need to be cared for, what would you do? For your spiritual needs? Professional growth? Physical needs? Relational needs? See if you can come up with one thing for each arena–things you can do on a consistent basis. For example, you might decide to read Diane Langberg’s daily devotional for the next 40 days, In Our Lives First, as a means to do something for both your ministry skills growth and spiritual vitality. 

Don’t over-think it. What is just one thing you can do (or stop doing if it isn’t helping) to make your self a bit more refreshed? 

2 Comments

Filed under christian counseling, continuing education, Meditations, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Your lack of self-care harms others, so what are you going to do about it?

  1. Robin

    So true. So rarely discussed in the Church.

  2. Thank you for noting that the idea of “being poured out like a drink offering” is often used by ourselves and others to push us past the boundaries of genuine servanthood to the place of exhaustion and burnout. I have been working on this for years. Still not great at it, but better than I used to be. Blessings to you in the new year.

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