By Lisa M. LaPlante / For The Herald
Every time we welcome a new physician to EvergreenHealth Monroe, one of the questions we ask our providers is, “What is your philosophy of care?”
For some providers, teamwork is an exceptionally important part of their care philosophy; they’re highly communicative and intentional about welcoming patients as partners in making health decisions. Others also focus on bringing a holistic viewpoint to patient care, while yet others emphasize the importance of well-being and cutting-edge technology integration. Every care philosophy is deeply personal and unique.
Since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, I’ve often thought about the monumental changes we continue to experience as a community, locally and globally. Nothing is the same, but despite this volatility, our health care providers have continued to show up with the same dedication, skill and heart as they always have, guided by their individual philosophy of care (as well as their bravery, selflessness, and too many honorable adjectives to name). This got me thinking: is a dedicated care philosophy one of the key elements to resilience? What does it mean to have a personal philosophy of care for how we care for ourselves? And how does this play into our own personal resiliency?
As we continue to weather the pandemic I’ve had good days and not so stellar days. Days when hope on the horizon is palpable and there is a lightness in my step, and others that have seemed cloudier. It’s in the cloudier moments that I’ve reflected more on what my philosophy of “self-care” is. Between raising families, work and staying socially connected, it’s easy to distract ourselves, keeping busy every waking moment. Though as we’ve quarantined, watching birthdays, anniversaries, outings with friends and vacations get cancelled, I’ve realized that self-care is no longer a trendy hot topic you glance at on the cover of a magazine in the grocery line: it’s a necessary survival skill.
Not unlike a physician’s philosophy of patient care, each philosophy of self-care should be deeply personal and unique. What fills one person’s glass with contentment and happiness, might hold a fully different experience for someone else.
Practicing self-care is about learning what keeps you personally fulfilled and prioritizing the time to do so. Self-care can mean doing something, or nothing at all.
For me, my philosophy of self-care includes spending time by myself, swimming. Swimming is one of the few opportunities I find myself completely alone, without interruption. I swim either early in the morning to start my day, or in the evenings to wind down. I let the water rush over me as I swim through the current and reflect on anything and everything. I focus on celebrating the good, acknowledging the bad, and letting go of things I cannot control.
It’s time that is just for me, recharging and connecting with my body and mind while I am doing something good for myself. I’ve always used swimming as an outlet, but now I do so with more intent, and I find the experience even more meaningful and fulfilling. Now, throughout the day, if I find myself feeling tense, I think about swimming and the emotions, peacefulness and breathing that go along with it, and practice positive self-talk, too. I also take moments to be alone when I can, even for five minutes of peace and quiet to decompress.
While it’s comforting to think about leaving everything negative that the pandemic introduced in the dust as we return to a more normal state of life, I am grateful for the growth I’ve achieved in developing my philosophy of self-care and will continue to work toward evolving my philosophy.
I encourage everyone to develop their own philosophy of self-care, whether that involves prioritizing time to meet up with old friends, taking long walks, watching a comedy series and getting in some good laughs; think about what makes you tick, and do it. Write your philosophy down to keep you grounded or decide to come up with a different philosophy every day!
The point is that self-care is kind of like life; it’s what you make it. There’s no better time as we re-enter whatever we considered “normal” life to be. Now’s the time to recreate your own normal and infuse your self-care themes at every opportunity.
So, what is your philosophy of care?
Lisa M. LaPlante is the chief administrator of EvergreenHealth Monroe.
Help is available
If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health challenges stemming from the pandemic or otherwise, please reach out to your primary care doctor for support. Your primary care doctor is a great first step on your journey to living well. If you do not have a primary care provider, find a physician that meets your personal needs and preferences at evergreenhealth.com/primary-care-monroe. For those struggling with addiction, reach out to EvergreenHealth Recovery Center. We are here to help.