Today marks the end of week three at my internship. The staff was immediately welcoming, my supervisors are spectacular, and I love the other interns. I've already met with several patients. My site is a clinic that treats people with trauma histories. Painfully sad stories come with our profession; I am continually affected by the things that my patient's have endured and by how resilient they can be. In this profession, it can be very difficult to "leave work at the office." I try my best, but two weeks ago a patient entered my dreams - that I can't control.
I went to a domestic violence training several months ago and they addressed self-care. I forget the exact elements that they said were required for "complete self-care" - probably physical activity, social support...maybe something soothing/relaxing? I DO remember the area where I was lacking: release. The presenter talked about finding a way to release the emotions that we hold for our clients. Her example was watching "The Biggest Loser" on TV and just crying. Her tears were not related to the domestic violence stories she heard, rather they were caused by inspiration she felt watching the contestants on the show. But for her, the experienced offered emotional release. She went on to say that this experience does not have to involve tears - going to a comedy show and laughing uncontrollably could also work.
Laughing, crying, singing our hearts out...these aren't things that are usually mentioned when we think about the thing we're going to do to care for ourselves after a particularly tough patient, class, or week. Give it a try - it might make your day a little brighter.